Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I have to admit it right off the top. At my advanced age, I managed to develop an interest in a lovely young waitress at a local eatery. Not without good cause, mind you. This particular head-turning delight would easily capture the attention of any healthy heterosexual male between the ages of 14 and 94. Well, that certainly qualified me, and for that reason I did not consider myself out-of-line.

To my increasing annoyance, the incessant tsk-tsking of my grown-up brain was frustratingly unwelcome. Floating in and out with its repetitive warnings, the intrusion only served to disrupt the lovely illusion I was busily forming.

Naturally, this all took place between us in utter silence. No one outside of my inner-self needed to know that I hosted these internal conversations on a semi-regular basis. The unrelenting brain, in its typically pointed fashion, continued to ask such questions as “just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Before long, whenever the brain insisted upon breaking through the wall and barging into my consciousness, another factor from within was prepared to deal with it. The raging hormones of my inner 16-year-old, the very same adventurous teenager who continues to remain active (all the while refusing to get a job), was ready with his response.

“What’s the problem? What could be healthier? It’s perfectly normal! Don’t be so old-fashioned! Hey, man … ignore that tired old codger. LET’S LIVE WHILE WE STILL CAN!”

Refusing to address the hyperactive kid directly, the grown-up brain countered with a snort of contempt. “You hear that? He makes no sense. You could easily be the girl’s father! Hell, maybe her GRANDFATHER! You already have two terrific and special women in your life. Aren’t you the one who says openly and frequently that you’re damned lucky to have them? So grow up, you silly old fool!”

This phenomenon, it’s amazing. But I must be honest. In the end, there would be nothing the brain could say or do that would mute the sense of possibility, spurred on as it was by the overanxious kid’s imagination. The tug-of-war would continue, but the “wouldn’t it be nice” dream the kid kept pushing never stopped driving that message home. A politician running for office should be so persuasive.

Approaching the restaurant, I once again thought of the young waitress’s lovely unblemished features, made all the more appealing by her sparkling blue eyes. Her hair positively glimmered as sunlight bathed it. The work-ordained ponytail she sported merrily bounced along to an inaudible but insistent rhythm. It all conspired to create a symphony of loveliness in cadence with her movements.

By the time I'd entered the gastric emporium, I had already made the decision to put my best foot forward by simply going with the flow. Jauntily striding in while still attempting to organize my thoughts, I quickly noticed the waitress in action. Her arms were extended as she expertly carried dishes full of tempting lunch fare. The thoughts I entertained had nothing to do with the food.

Soon after the hostess seated me, the waitress approached with a menu, all-the-while flashing her warm and inviting smile. None-too-cleverly, I began building towards the real purpose of my visit. You know the bit … a hello, intended to be perceived as smooth, a little joke and a wink of approval. She returned the greeting, politely giggled at my attempt at humor, and acted as if she hadn’t noticed the wink. Maybe she hadn’t.

When the busy waitress returned minutes later, rather than placing an order, I told her I had a question to ask. That was just fine, she stated. No doubt anticipating that the query was related to a menu item, she seemed slightly taken aback when I said, “My dear, are you married, engaged or otherwise seriously involved with someone?” In my mind, I congratulated myself for not coming across as too much of a jerk (at least in my eyes).

The look on her face confirmed that I’d indeed caught her by surprise. But she also recovered quickly and responded with little hesitation.

“Yes, I am. I have a pretty wonderful boyfriend, and he’s a very remarkable guy.” She lowered her shimmering blue eyes slightly and added softly, “I know you understand.”

“Of course I do,” I said, perhaps a bit too quickly, adding, “Actually, I fully expected something along those lines.” I didn’t believe my own words.

Concluding with as much gallantry as I was able to muster, I added, “He’s a very lucky fellow, he is. I want to wish you both nothing but happiness.”

“Thank you,” she said, again flashing her killer smile. “I’ll be back in a few minutes to take your order.”

You know, it’s amazing how the brain is wired. The waitress’s blonde ponytail, still bouncing with the precision of a metronome, hadn’t yet faded from view when the brain dropped by for a visit. True to form, it was only too anxious to drive its triumphant point home. "Was I on the mark?" it asked. "Well, was I?"

“For crying out loud,” I grumbled, gritting my teeth. "Not now, all right?" Surely this three pound lump in my head was only too aware that I very well knew the answer to its rhetorical question. Did it really have to be so maddeningly smug when alluding to the obvious?

The damn thing continued speaking in the same tone as an adult would to a perpetually misbehaving schoolboy. “You see what I was saying? There was no chance … I’ll repeat myself … NO CHANCE of ever establishing a connection. But you had to go and give in to your puerile flights of fancy. I kept telling you, did I not, to stop before you started?”

My response, which was accompanied by a mental grimace, came rapidly as I silently shot back, “Okay. Okay. I get the message. Now knock it off!”

“Fine. There’s just one last thing I’d like to add before I finish,” my berating brain proclaimed. “The next time this sort of thing occurs …”

“Yeah?” I responded to the chastising organ with resignation.

“Remember your age!”

“I get it. I'm with you. You’re right, and I’ll try.”

Since having this last conversation some hours ago, I sincerely believe I’ve come to accept those parting words from my good and true friend, the brain. I am now far more cognizant of my years every waking moment.

My back hurts incessantly. Sometimes I stand before an exasperated toilet, barely able to pee. I’m taking a lot of short naps for no particular reason. I get irritated without provocation. Yes, I truly do understand. I now feel every bit as old as I really am.


See? My brain is really very smart..