I recently re-posted a piece from a few years ago – “How To Be Old.” I can see the allure of growing old gracefully a la Judy Collins, but I also see the delight of defying old age like Buffy Sainte-Marie.
And this week I saw another approach to old age.
I would call it Gentility.
My husband and I were at A.J.’s, our favorite dive in Goshen, Connecticut. (Yes, there is a Land O’ Goshen here in the northwest corner).
A.J.’s is a cellar. Literally. Upstairs is the kitchen and take out pizza window. You go downstairs to the bar and what you might kindly call a dining room. They did a remodel last year – which basically means they fixed some of the holes in the ceiling.
To put it mildly, A.J.’s clientele is diverse. Lots of bikers and old guys sitting at the bar mingle happily with the families with toddlers. There’s a barrel full of peanuts and the patrons are encouraged to toss the shells on the floor. So walking around is really crunchy. If you have a wobbly table, the waitress hands you a stack of cardboard coasters. Use as many as you want.
But the best thing is the food. The pizza is good, the steak is good, the bison burgers are incredible. And Fish Night – well, Clinton Kelly was there last summer for the oysters. (Good thing I was wearing something cute.)
Sunday night is taco night – $2.00 each. We go there just about every Sunday. We split a big house salad, and have one taco each. Hubby has a beer or two, but I stick with water. We are usually out the door for under $20.00, tip included.
And this Sunday, I was eating my beef taco in the soft shell, when an ancient couple came haltingly down the rickety steps. One foot down, the next foot to meet it. Stop. One foot down. Next foot down. Stop. Repeat.
They finally came into view. Both the old lady and the old man had white hair, bent shoulders, and high-waisted pants. The old guy was distinctly more debilitated than the wife. He could hardly walk, but his gallantry amazed me.
For when they shuffled over to the table, the wife stood, holding the table edge for support (I prayed the rickety thing would hold her), and her husband, with great effort, pulled out her chair, and extending his shaky hand, offered her a seat.
Gentility in a biker bar.
That’s a good way to be old.