Earlier today, Alisha began whining about how she wanted Chinese food so badly that she had legitimate pangs of soy sauce-lust shooting through her veins. Tired of listening to it any longer, Henry took us all to Silver Palace to eat amongst the elderly. I mean, there were so many old people there that Henry might actually have been considered young.
Seated right behind us were two archetypical old man. I know this because in the twenty-minute duration we breathed the same MSG-laden air, they referenced young people, arthritis, and “I’ll be right out, I have to take my pills.” They were so perfectly old that if we had gotten there a few minutes earlier, we might have been privy to some D-Day memories, and I can assure you with confidence that there is a handicapped tag dangling off the rear view mirror of the Lincoln in which they likely rolled up. The man furthest from me spoke in bombastic tones, making me shrink down a little in the booth. Once you pass 50, you’re awarded a license to speak loudly in public. I think you can get them at AAA and Bob Evans.
I couldn’t hear the man who shared the same back to the booth as me, but I imagine he must have danced into a liver spot diatribe at least once. Alisha swears she heard one ask the other if they felt like they could be in danger and proceeded to obsess over that for the next ten minutes.
The one closest to us blew his nose. It was crinkly and wet. Very wet. It seemed to reverberate all around us, hanging above our white-clothed table like a cloud saturated with nasal juice, reminding us of its crudeness. At that moment, I became very glad that my Color Wheel was served with a viscous white sauce, so as I ate, I could visualize what that old man shot into his hanky.
Like most people, the adults at our table (and yes, I am including myself in that) sort of hung our heads and closed our eyes. Alisha shuddered a little. Henry, well, I don’t know what Henry did because I was too busy anxiously awaiting Alisha to spooge stomach acid in cupped hands, because she is very critically snot-phobic. As in, earlier when Chooch’s sneeze left him with rivers of gelled waste trickling across his top lip like a babbling brook rushing over a felled log, Alisha had to bury her head in the crook of her arm. Like, one time I mentioned that I’m addicted to coughing up phlegm when I’m sick, and she did the dry heaving dance. I continued to tell her that I love how it crackles in my chest. I love how, if I breathe very forcefully and exhale past average limitations to the point where I’m nearly passing out, I can call up a tiny wheeze. Bronchitis? Love having it. I could play with chest congestion all the livelong day. I told her all of this and I think she seriously considered ending our friendship.
As I was saying….
None of us vocalized our disgust for that man’s clear lack of table etiquette, but Chooch doesn’t yet have the ability to not call a bitch out. So, very loudly, he shouts, “WHAT WAS THAT?” Because I mean, this man expelled his mucous so forcefully that he quite possibly blew out some bones, a treasure map, and the cure for cancer as well, all buoying about in a sea of nasal sick.
Chooch had abandoned the straw skyscraper he was erecting in his glass of watered ginger ale at this point (he doesn’t like the fizziness of the carbonation, although he pronounces it bizzy, as in “I can’t like that bizzy!”). He repeated his question, standing up slightly in the booth, eyes wide and darting around the restaurant. Collectively, we tried to assure him that it was nothing, but you know — that’s not an acceptable answer for a kid. Putting a hand behind his ear, he argued, “No, I heard sumpin’.”
And Chooch, he speaks in old men volumes. He doesn’t yet grasp the concept of table volume, so it became very public commentary to follow the very public nose-blowing.
It was one of those moments where I remembered how awesome it is to have a three-year-old.
After they left, I exhaled and said, “My god, they were like old people stereotypes!” and Henry goes, “Only one was old.”
I never did get a chance to see the nose-honker, so I asked, “Oh, the other guy was young? I didn’t imagine that he was.”
“He was probably only fifty,” Henry added matter-of-factly with a shrug.
And the incredulous look on my face asked Alisha, “Since when is fifty not old??”
Since, I guess, when Henry is only six years shy of it.