An elderly couple walked into the lobby of the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and spotted a piano.
They've been married for 62 years and he'll be 90 this year.
I've always been a fan of much older people, "elderly" as they're known in our society. There's something about their charm and their ability to regale me with stories of a time I wish I'd lived in and their ability to see right through someone's malarkey. The elderly of our time can remember when there were no t.v.'s, so the card and board games and just plain ole talking were the entertainment of the day. Long before the checked out communication of email, twitter, and facebook, they just know about talking and talking to communicate. They have some crazy wisdom about certain things. And, other just have some plain ole crazy.
I used to hang out in Father Demo Square "with all the old ladies" (as my friends would say to me) before it was all fancy and renovated and fountain-y and long before September 11th, 2001, a day that seemed to scatter everyone as much as the gentrification of the square did.
My neighbor, V., introduced me to all the local bench-sitters: The sisters, Marion and Marianne, who grew up around the corner and never moved out; Annie who gave me her pearl necklace to fix because she heard I was in the "biznezz"; Tony's wife and her friends who told me things were much better when the Mafia ran the neighborhood; and Tina, who dressed like everyday was sunday-go-to-meetin'. She was also V's best friend, so the three of us were quite a team. I started calling Tina "T" pretty early on, 'cuz it seemed to fit. And then V, who'd called her Tina for about 60 years, started in with it too and it stuck. One weekend, V, and T and I headed down to South Street Seaport and had ourselves a real blast. I'd never been there been there before. And I've never been since.
I grew to know these women as young people in this crazy, divided city: Irish over there, Italians over there, unless you were dating someone from the other side. They had strict parents and yet from a very young age were allowed to run for milk six blocks away. It was a city, after all. They'd regale me with stories of what each and every store front used to be on Carmine Street, on Bleecker Street, and half way up 6th Avenue. They could tell you who lived where, when and for how long and what happened to them. I lived for these stories. I'm fascinated by the past and I listened for hours.
Much to my chagrin, I never found that here in SF.
It's strange, but there doesn't seem to be quite the same emphisis on an older community here. They don't come out and sit on their porches in a tanktop and people-watch. They don't all occupy the same bench at Dolores Park. They're not hanging out in front of the local bodega calling out everyone's name. Wow, I miss that.
Now that my time is my own, I'm thinking about volunteering at an elderly home and what I'd love to do for them is read-aloud.
But, I think my real motivation is to hear them instead.