At Swann’s tonight, for a change. I’ve been a good boy: a beer and some fries. Much different from anywhere else, the Swann’s Pub offers an insight into senility, and the decade before all that threatens. There was a couple, sitting right in front of me. They were in their golden years, late fifties. He, I bet, was an accomplished academic of the scientific persuasion. Maybe this was his last semester teaching. For those of you who have seen HBO’s masterpiece, Six Feet Under, the man was George. For those who haven’t, allow me to explain.
He reads the ingredients for every piece of food he buys. Sometimes, if he is feeling especially snarky, he will take a trip to the nearest McDonald’s and request an egg McMuffin: “Are these real eggs?”, he asks some fifteen year old kid, who, surely, doesn’t know, much less, care, at 7:45, on his way up to the bunnies. He now pares his finger nails as his girlfriend looks on.
“Does he actually think I am impressed by this elaborate display of detachment?” she asks herself, glaring at him: she is wearing a red sweater. He catches her look and mistakes it for lust. He orders another beer. “I’ve seen a thousand men like him. They present as though they have it all figured out. Those are the ones you’ve gotta look out for. Usually, they’re the ones who’ve been married several times; the ages of their wives drop with every matrimony.” She then turns her focus to the guitarist, who happens to be clad in a Hawaiian shirt.
He’s about the same age, she went to High School with him, maybe. He doesn’t feel that old though. He is channeling people, his contemporaries, who died young, and were immortalized in their youth: Jimi, and the rest, y’ know. To the guitarist’s immediate left, is the singer. She does her best Mama Cass impression: she really belts it out. She doesn’t even look at anyone else in the room, preferring to close her eyes until the break in between sets. She’s been at it for years. She is getting good.
Still, if I was to say that I identify with anyone here, it would be the couple in front of the band. They’ve been at Swann’s since the mid-afternoon. They came here after spending the morning at Value Village, which is just down the road. They didn’t buy anything. Instead, they tried on everything; he even dressed in drag, for a laugh. Actually, they did by something. It is buried in her fake leather purse, right next to the contraceptive pocket (every morning, she waits for menopause so she can quit swallowing these accursed hormones).
They dance. Not noticing the singer, or the intellectual, who has just calculated an appropriate tip. They just dance. He has a beer stain on his left lapel. She just had her period, again. It spills through her cotton panties, upon the hardwood floor like so much wine before. They dance and sweat. He checks his pits, a bit too noticeably. But it is endearing to her, and to all who watch. None of us judge, we just smile, and hope that in thirty years, we too, will be let down by Old Spice.