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By Jack Handley
A while back, another old guy in my complex and I sat on my porch and drank a can of Rainier Ale, and wondered why we ever liked the stuff. He’s not a buddy but occasionally we sit and talk, but we tell each other tales because there’s not much we have in common.
He’s a good looking old fart. He’s bigger than me. And he’s a football nut while I hold that an NFL game is just a 200-minute advertisement interrupted by 60 minutes of football.
He can stay up late enough to watch Late Nite whatever, which surely demonstrates that we run on tracks of different gauge.
This time we talked, I got us both into a cranky mood by mentioning that the only televised sport I could watch, and one I don’t even like very much, was soccer.
He tried to be agreeable and admitted that hockey was gone for him because he couldn’t any longer follow the puck. And I said that wasn’t the fault of the TV producer but that, for instance, unwatchable baseball was.
See, the whole screen is full of the pitcher, who glares, scratches, spits, winds up and throws, and then you see another closeup of the batter swinging, then a far shot of the fly ball in the lights, and then a closeup traveling shot of the fielder running - and not a single view of the runner who was leading off second base, edging back ready to tap the base and run, or whatever the shortstop was doing according to his assessment of the play, which is how you get yours, as the viewer.
He let out a tolerant grunt and changed the topic to ladies. (We are too old to talk of women.) You know Peg? he asked.
That plump lady, who putters in the community garden? Lives in Chateau 3, I think?
Yes. It seems I offended her, she won’t even nod to me - hell, she looks the other way when we pass on the way to the trash bin.
Do you know what you did? Hah! I bet you said something insensitive.
I think I wrote something that offended her.
You wrote something? Hoo boy.
Well, couple weeks ago I stopped at the garden to pass the time of day with her and she asked could I carry some potted plants up to her balcony. So I did.
We chatted, perfectly normal. Did you know she is a teacher - she still works. I told her the old chestnut that you can’t misspell correctly and she laughed.
Then, a few days later my phone died and since I had been sick, I knew my daughter would think the worst if I didn’t answer the phone. So I went over to Peg’s and asked her if she would phone Susan and tell her I had to get a new phone.
So, she read the number off my phone and and called my daughter who didn’t answer and so Peg left a voice message and explained the situation and then gave her her number as my temporary emergency number.
Nice of her. Sounds okay, so far, I said.
Yeah. Well, then she said, let me put your number in my phone. I was going to put her number in mine, but I’m all thumbs with those little keys, and I sure didn’t want to stand there and do the old mumble, fumble, stumble, and spill.
Besides, I was sure Susan was sending a ‘Dad! call me!’ email so I told Peg that, and said I would come back later with my new phone and get her number.
I’m waiting for the interesting part.
Yeah. So, I went back a week or so later; it took me that long to get a new phone, and the number transferred - all that rigmarole - but she wasn’t there, so I left a note.
All I wrote was, ‘hey, babe, can I have your number?’
You actually wrote “babe”?
Well, yes, I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I thought it was kind of humorous, you know - an old man who’s forgotten what it’s for, writing a simple note to lady old enough to be in senior housing. I didn’t write, hey babe let’s get together and get skinny, for Christ’s sake.
Perhaps that’s what she read, though.
Sheesh. You think?
Well, you said she’s a teacher. You’re old enough; remember parsing, diagramming sentences and such?
Doubt she is. That must’a been way before her time; she’s not our age.
Women always look way into things, you know: Husband: “Honey, when did you get that new blouse?” Wife: “Why, what’s wrong with it?”
I dunno. I don’t know anything about women, the ladies, the fair sex, whatever. If I did, do you think I’d be sitting here by myself?
He crushed his can. “Got anything a man can drink?”
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