Dinner, March 16, 2013 Saturday night early dinner, 7:ish, with old friends, literally, reconvening a conversation begun

some 40 years ago without so much as a hiccup of incontinuity. Dean and Kathy, once married, long ago divorced, yet eternally together, bedeviling the tabloid version of life while marching toward the misunderstood, promised sunset as if none of the drama of their middle years had ever occurred, yet at the forefront of conversation, no trauma offlimits, no truth a secret to be withheld. Dean wearing the battery packs that power his mechanical heart, it is a dinner promised some time back to prove his reentry to normal life, that all the medical procedures and years of “maybe” were worth the pain and discomfort and indignities which are all a part of the promise to live a normal life. Frank with his newly worked shoulder, his one testicle from an almost forgotten cancer, lost partially to the bigger issue of his drug and alcohol recovery, more comfortable in his skin now than probably any other time in his life, sits across the table from Bill who is trying to be not good, but better, in a late life attempt to curb the appetites that once promised a short but large life of excess. Donna takes her place at the table, which is anywhere she wants, as there has never been a table which she does not grace. No words were slurred, many wars stories were retold, and the discussion of medical procedures was kept to a remarkably low level, although Dean and I commiserated a bit about my recent stent and its relative insignificance to his multiyear journey that led to the mechanical pump that now pushes the blood through his veins to the arm that ends at the hand that hoists a pint of Guinness in a toast to old friends in perfect mimicry of a day some 40 years earlier which hosted this same cast of characters at a table not unlike the one that seats us now. Much the same as what should seem another lifetime, our dialogue is about music, food and places. Places we have lived, together and apart; places we worked near and far, places we dreamed of both realized and not. My wife Jean, the Queen Bee, orders the food, allows the space for laughter and interruption, as the need to be heard bubbles up in each of us, the competition and camaraderie of a lifetime transcending biological imperatives. No admonishment to the indulgence of those of us who still drink, we are allowed to be, for the night, the same group of friends who have no gray hairs on their full heads, who lived every day with a vision or idea of something fresh, be it scheme or dream. Living in the moment for one night, remembering a lifetime of precious moments, we have denied the intransigence of age, have forced the clocks to spin backwards, erased wrinkles, restored the appetites of youth and proven that you are only as old as you feel.

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