This week, I tried to be cute. I don’t really do cute in my writing. I hated it the whole time I was writing it but, when it was finished, I hated it less.
But, whether I hate it or love, I finished it. Here is week 2 of my Weekly Writing Challenge.
“The walls in here are so bright.”
“No, I’m sorry I don’t have a light! I didn’t know you smoked.”
“Smoke? No, they’re too pink for that. More like a coral.”
I moaned under my breath from my spot at the bar, the uncomfortable exchange easier for me to hear than the people actually having it.
“Move on,” I mumbled around the edge my martini glass. “Just forget the walls.”
Catching on to their predicament, she could see, from the mirror behind the bar, the man shift his seat closer to his date.
“Is that better?” he asked.
“Better than what?”
“Never mind,” he laughed. “How do you like your wine?”
I cringed inwardly and willed the conversation to go another direction. Don’t talk about going to the bathroom, don’t talk about going to the…
“Oh, it’s lovely. I just have to drink it slowly or I’ll be going to the bathroom all night.”
I sighed but he laughed a big booming laugh.
“I know what you mean. One can of beer means all night in the can for me!”
Ok, that was clever, I thought but I heard a groan next to me. I looked over but the man next to me was staring down into his beer.
I tuned back into their conversation in time to hear her say, “Well, that’s all well and good, but with my hip it takes me just as long to get to the bathroom as it does to actually go.”
“Oh, come on…” this time I said it out loud but luckily not loud enough for the geriatric daters.
“Next he’s gonna start talking about his medications.”
I jumped at the voice next to me but over my shoulder heard, “I believe it. I don’t know which pill does what, I just know I haven’t peed right since the 90’s.”
I heard a groan and looked over as the mystery man took a long pull of his beer.
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” I asked, confused that another human would have has much interest in this train wreck of a date as I did.
“Doubt it,” he said, “But I’m guessing you know the saucy minx at the table behind us.”
“I’m Nathan. That’s my Grandpa Gabe.”
“Oh,” I said, “I’m Amy. That’s my Grandma Rose.”
He nodded as though it were completely normal to follow your Grandparent on a date and eavesdrop on their conversation.
“So, what do you think? A shot every time they mention medication, aching joints, or technology they can’t work?”
I laughed, “That seems dangerous.”
“But fun,” he said motioning to the bartender, “A round of shots, please…” From behind us, Grandma Rose’s voice carried across the restaurant, “I swear I haven’t been able to turn my TV off for a week!”
“Better keep em coming!”
A few rounds later, after they’d touched on Facebook, trying to ask Alexa questions and discussing the weather’s impact on each limb multiple times, we were leaned in with our heads together, waiting for the next topic, when the couple decided it was time for a bathroom break.
“Oh thank goodness,” I sighed, “I need a break and this will take at least 15 minutes.”
Nathan laughed and ordered us a couple of waters.
“So,” he said sliding mine toward me, “What prompts a woman your age to stalk her Grandmother’s date instead of pursuing her own?”
“I could ask you the same question.”
He shrugged, “You could, and the answer is simple, I love my Grandpa Gabe and he’s been pretty lonely since Gram died and I knew if I didn’t do something he’d sit in his big house, in front of his old TV watching M.A.S.H reruns, and yelling at Alexa until it was time to join Gram.”
I nodded, “Similar story.”
He continued, “So, I pulled up that Silver Years dating thing, he saw a picture of your Grandma, grumbled that she had a nice smile, and I set the connection in motion. But now I’m guessing that when I sent that winky face it was not Rose that sent back the blushing face.”
I held up my hands innocently, “Hey, she did actually blush when I said someone winked at her.”
He laughed, a booming laugh like his Grandpa’s. It made me smile.
“I’ve been living with Grandma since my divorce and it’s been a saving grace for both of us but, someday, I’m going to want to move out and move on and I couldn’t stand the thought of her watching ER and Call the Midwife by herself. But I also couldn’t stand the thought of her getting out there for the first time all alone. It’s silly I guess…”
He lifted his water glass toward me, “Not silly at all.”
I lifted my water and we clinked.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Grandma Rose shuffling back to the table with Gabe not far behind her. I nudged Nathan and we shifted toward each other, leaning backward to listen. Immediately, I could sense a shift in the mood at the table. I snuck a glance behind me and I saw Grandma sigh as she settled into her seat looking around the room as though she were looking back through time.
“Oh, this place…” she said.
“Oh god,” I whispered, sensing the change of tone in her voice. I Iooked up and the panic in Nathan’s eyes mirrored mine.
“Dead spouses?” he asked.
He shook his head and took a drink of his beer.
I tried not to listen but after a minute, I heard my name. “It’s been so nice having her there but I know she can’t stay forever. It’s just been lovely not to be so lonely.”
I snuck a glance behind me and saw Gabe nod knowingly and then lean over the table.
“You don’t have to be lonely.” He placed a hand over hers.
I turned away and sighed, trying to hide the tears lining my eyes.
“Is this what we have to look forward to if we’re still dating in our eighties?” I asked softly.
“Well, I guess we better make sure that doesn’t happen.”
He placed his hand over mine.