Death's Waiting Room


Steve is in his early 40ís, Iím in my late 30ís. Together, I think we dragged the average age in the joint down to something like 87. It was wall-to-wall oldsters in there, boy. Blue hair as far as the eye could see, and plenty of bifocals for those eyes that couldnít. And polyester? Oh my, yes.

Steve and I pondered this as we powered through our breakfasts: Chicken fried steak and eggs, hashbrowns, toast, coffee/Coke. What was it about this Dennyís that drew octogenarians like monster truck rallies draw rednecks? Did the Grand Slam breakfast have secret rejuvenative powers? Was there a Fountain of Youth in the restroom? Was there a "Seniors On The Road Eat Free" special we didnít know about, and did we qualify if there was? We just didnít know. And we couldnít ask. The seniors werenít interested in conversation with young(er) bucks like us; they were too busy blocking the aisles and wandering in confused circles to block other aisles.

Steve and I pondered on that, too, on what it is about old age that makes you stop for no reason in the middle of a narrow passageway and why the internal radar develops a blind spot that prevents you from realizing people are behind you trying to get by. No answers on that front, either, but we figure weíll find out for ourselves soon enough. Too soon enough.

Perhaps itís ageist for me to say this, but it was a little unnerving being surrounded by so much dry skin and blue hair. No particular reason for this dis-ease, it was just really strange. Honestly, it was like an AARP convention in there. On the other hand, my discomfort could have been due to the casket truck we saw on the way in, because we spied it leaving as we ate and I felt much easier after it was gone. Probably the seniors did, too. Itís hard to really get into artery clogging food when thereís a truckload of cemetery gift-wrap waiting outside.

On the way out we had to fight our way through an incoming surge of even more seniors. They were coming in waves, like salmon to the hatching ground, trekking across miles of desert to this one sun-scorched restaurant. It was remarkable. I had to take the picture you see up top.

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