It was, more or less, a typical Saturday.
SOB and I disposed of a week’s worth of scam mail that Dad receives. Official-looking scams targeting the elderly. Here is three days’ worth on its way to the shredder: Dad was affable enough about our rummaging through the house in search of mail and chucking it. I guess he was hungry and wanted to see his pals at COTUD (Coffee Shop of the UnDead).
Yes, the Coffee Shop of the UnDead
(cue suspenseful music)
En route, we bumped into a man who was once our upstairs neighbor and our playmate 40 years ago. His mother, who always seemed a lovely woman, still lives in Dad’s building and she is sick. And he is taking care of her. I wanted to think kind thoughts but he is a convicted pedophile. He wanted to hug and kiss us all hello and I wanted to vomit. I kept my distance. I was so close to screaming and beating him about the head and face.
(Cue clip of Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: SVU ‘cuffing him.)
He served some (not enough) time and was released. As a citizen, I believe in a criminal justice system that gives convicts a second chance. As a mother, I believe in the death penalty for pedophiles and other predators.
Sidebar: Ain’t the old neighborhood great? There are scary, bad secrets scattered all along the sun-soaked streets of the East Side.
I decided I didn’t need to remind my father of this former neighbor’s felonies. I didn’t think Dad could process it. There are some things Dad doesn’t need to remember. I, of course, was thinking about castration.
We were late to COTUD. I wondered if any of the regulars wondered whether Dad might be more than undead, as it were.
(cue suspenseful music)
No table for us. It was bustling at COTUD. But, because we are regulars and we don’t stay all afternoon, the management likes us. So do the main waiters, Nick and Vassily.
Vassily asked an old woman with a walker to get up and move, so they could put tables together and accommodate us. I was mortified. I went over to the woman and apologized and thanked her.
(cue sadess about the indignities of being old in a fast-paced, youth obsessed world)
We saw Sam and his long-time companion, Norma, who were eating with Norma’s daughter and sons. We had never met Norma’s family.
(cue immediate suspicion)
It was good to see Norma out and about. She is frail. As people grow older, their face lifts and other work seem so distorted against the natural aging (and sagging) of the rest of their bodies. (Just a note to those who are considering “face work”. Even her daughter’s face work could use a little — how do you say? — refreshment.)
Last time SOB saw Norma at the COTUD, they had a pleasant conversation, after which SOB overheard Norma say about Mom:
“Elsie was a special person. It was the first time at a funeral that people used superlatives and they were true!”
(cue sigh and teary eyes)
Ok, so we love Norma. And Sam.
Vassily didn’t even give us menus. The only thing that needed to be said was “french fries, too”.
The fries came. I offered them around. Something was stuck to the underside of the plate.
It was gum.
First, what cretin sticks gum on the underside of a plate and, second, what dishwasher doesn’t clean that?
And this place has an “A” health rating.
(cue visions of the horror flicks like, ‘Wilbur,” about a killer rat.)
Ugh. I scrubbed my hands raw in the less than Grade A bathroom.
Then Harvey came in. He had to take a cab the 1.5 blocks from his apartment building to the diner because it was uphill and he has two canes. (I saw him through the window.)
He took a table right next to us. We greeted him warmly and asked about his wife and (now middle-aged) son.
Barbara, his wife, was at home. “She has dementia and cysts on her legs. But me, I turned 90 and I still work and drive!”
OMG. This is the second public menace we have met today.
I was worried about the driving thing but he can’t get in and out of a car without assistance, so I am pretty sure he doesn’t really drive.
He said to SOB, “you look great — just the same — and still working hard, I am sure.” He looked at me. “You look different.”
Harvey, whom I never liked, was telling me I looked old. I liked his wife, even with her screechy voice. She was always making a jello mold. She always had a bouffant “do”. She perpetually lived in 1969. Even in the 1990s, she brought jello molds to my parents’ Yom Kippur break fast. By then, it was totally cool and retro.
By the end of lunch, SOB and I staggered out. Overwhelmed by the faint smell of peppermint. Horrified at seeing the pedophile free among us. Wistful about time gone by for Sam, Norma, Harvey, Barbara and Dad.
Dad, however, thought it was a fine time in the neighborhood. And that is how it should be for Dad at 93.