I used to have fun. I used to have LOTS of fun. Srsly. Like, any place I went ended up bringing a ridiculous amount of fun. Especially if it involved dancing, friends, and good food.
Now…I’m old. There is no fun to be had. Oh, it’s there if you’re 21 years old (or younger and have a fake ID) and a constitution of steel.
My friend and I made plans to have dinner. She will usually text me to see what I’m wearing, mostly because (it never fails) we will end up wearing the exact. same. outfit. I picked out an oxford and my favorite jeans. The oxford is so incredibly soft, light blue, and from Gap. The jeans are also Gap and I found them at a consignment shop. Much too long for me, but not when I wear my giant wedge boots. So, with the outfit on I felt it was missing something. I proceeded to try on a blazer. And then another blazer. And then every blazer I own. Nothing was working. I tried a sweater. No. I put on a belt. It was all bad. I decided to go with it because it was late. As I was about to walk out the door, I realized I felt like a 60-year-old professor; a man.
I went back in and changed into a black sequined skirt. Left on the boots. Added a black tee shirt. A black sweater. And my camoflague coat (black and grey with a hot pink liner). A complete 180 degree turn from what I’d started to wear. I walked out the door thinking Who am I, even?
Poor friend had been waiting for me forever at a new restaurant downtown. The owner has a second restaurant that I thoroughly enjoy. Sadly, this restaurant had nothing that they could adapt into a gluten free dish for me. After many questions, and my urging my friend to go ahead and eat, we left. The Shet Celiacs Say is no more annoying to anyone than myself. There are a handful of restaurants where I can eat and not pray for a swift death over the next few days.
As we were crossing the street, two girls came toward my friend and me. They were wearing the shortest dresses and the highest heels. No coats. Lots of hair and makeup. I looked down at my outfit and wondered if what I was wearing was age appropriate. It is a fact that I have never dressed like anyone I know, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten dressed asking, “What can I wear that will accentuate my lady garden.”
It was then I realized…I’m old. O-L-D. There is no denying it. After dinner, we went to a bar where there is a deejay and dancing. This “club” possesses, hands-down, the worst deejay ever. Another sign that I am old is the amount of joy I felt when I discovered there was no cover. It seems there are no covers anywhere anymore. It almost makes me a little angry that these young people are so free to come and go as they please; no coats, barely dressed, drunk as hell. They should feel the punishment we felt 20 years ago trying to look in the window of clubs to see who was inside and was it worth it to pay the five/seven/ten dollar cover.
My friend and I suffered through a playlist of AC/DC followed by The Beach Boys followed by 69 Boyz and then The Isley Brothers “Shout.” I mean…really? Are we at a freaking wedding reception? What a HORRIBLE song! I have never in my life seen the appeal of this song. And especially do not when all the girls are wearing skirts that would make better belts as they’re getting a little bit softer now.
My friend looked over at a girl dancing and said, “Oh yeah. She’s gonna vomit later.” And I have to admit, it didn’t take me long to empathize with her. What a horrible feeling, but she was powering through. She could barely hold her head up, let alone focus, but her grip on her mixed drink wasn’t wavering. Several people started to walk up the two stairs past us and would then change their mind and go a different way. My friend even made the comment, “Ooh. Can’t do the stairs. Nope. No stairs for me. Too drunk.” After the fifth or sixth person opted to walk another way, I realized oh. mah. gawd. they. think. we’re. cops. We look old. The worst part is, we don’t feel like we look as old as they think we look. I knew I was old when I immediately recognized the deejay’s offering of duh duh duh duh duh dum dum as the beginning of a Queen tune. The whole place erupted in cheers and arms were flung in the air. I leaned over to my friend and said, “There is going to be a lot of embarrassment when all these kids realize this is not Ice Ice Baby.” And, thirty seconds later, there was a veil disappointment.
We went to another bar I used to frequent years ago with a friend. You had to be 24 years old to get in (if I recall). I was and would always get carded. My friend, who wasn’t even 21 years old would never get carded. They let her right in. The crowd is much younger now, and they are packed in the place like sardines. Those who try to squeeze through just end up stopping and standing in the way. I told a guy to think like a 20-year-old girl and push through. It was all coming back to me.
We left immediately and my friend asked the doorman where the “adults hang out.” He listed a few places prefacing it with “you might like,” and “this might be good for you.” Translation: old people hang out at these joints.
I’ve never been crazy about places where all you can do is stand around and drink. I need to be entertained. I prefer to dance with no drink. Nothing in my hands. Not a coat, not a purse. Twenty-somethings are a smart bunch, to leave their coat in the car, even though they would freeze when they left. And, where did the girls keep their IDs, money, and lipstick? In their pockets? Those dresses don’t look like they have pockets. How did I used to do this?
At the doorman’s urging, we drove to another bar where they had live music and little else. We could see from the warm interior of my car, through the bar window, that this was not going to be much better. I said, “There is no one there. I can see a drummer and a keyboard player, but there isn’t a soul in there.” My friend said, “I can’t see anything.” I said, “There’s the bartender, on the right, doing nothing with his back to no one.” She said, “This is so disappointing. We might as well call it a night. All this ‘looking around’ has sobered me up.”
And that was it. I drove her back to her car and we went our separate ways.
Is this really what it’s all about now? Do I have to wait for someone to invite me to their wedding reception before I can go out dancing with a group of people my own age? Am I relegated to eating dinner at 5.30 p.m. on a Friday night? What do people my age do for fun? I am officially my parents. Square. Remembering how sorry I felt for them, sitting at home on a Friday night, in their recliners, watching TV and…talking to each other. My mother would ask, “Why are you just now going out when the everyone else is getting ready for bed.” She didn’t understand.
Or did she?
The next evening, I made dinner for my girlfriends (as I do at least twice a month). And it was so lovely. Sitting at home eating food I knew wouldn’t make me sick, drinking cheap drinks, listening to good music, and the laughter of our children.
I tried a new dish: Hearty Vegetable Soup (serves 4)
2T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used the frozen Trader Joe’s portioned cubes)
2 C peeled butternut squash in 1/2″ cubes (I will not get married just so I can have someone with upper body strength to cut this sucker up for me)
1/4 tsp. allspice
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 sprigs of thyme
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable)
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
2 C lightly packed kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped (I shredded by hand)
1 C chickpeas
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the butternut squash, allspice, salt and cayenne; stir to combine. Add the thyme, broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kale and the chickpeas, and cook 10 minutes more until the squash is tender and the kale has wilted. Pick out the thyme sprigs and discard before serving. (Adapted during cooking from Ellie Krieger recipe.)
Ah. Maze. Ing.