Some students had wanted to interview me for their class assignment on authors. So we set a date, time, and place.
It was the exact date and time Tony was scheduled to meet his classmates in grade school (yes, grade school!). It was their monthly (yes, monthly!) big boys’ night out.
He suggested that I joined them for dinner after my interview was over so I could have a ride home. I had the option of being the only girl in a big boys’ club or of taking public transportation during rush hour.
It was a difficult choice.
What could I contribute to the conversation?
I have nothing in common with these men, well, except Tony.
I could always concentrate on the food and allow my mind to wander, which isn’t difficult.
Or I could listen and learn a thing or two from men who go back a long, very long, way.
And I laughed. I was amused and amazed at the same time. Here were eight oldish men (one of them is now a congressman; one is a DJ; a lot of them entrepreneurs; four or five couldn’t make it but they kept calling and wanted updates on what was happening) talking like little boys without a care in the world.
Their topics ranged from the old shops they used to pass by on their way to school, the pretty teacher who was their common crush, the bullies and the nerds among them, how the political situation is still the same even after so many years, and oodles of other topics that kept me mesmerized.
They talked as though I wasn’t there. But I picked up one great nugget of wisdom: nothing—not age, not political affiliation, not religious beliefs, not time, not tragedies and comedies—can break up friendships forged in early life.
On our drive home, I told Tony: “The dinner was great but the jokes and conversation even better.”
“Same topics and jokes month after month,” he said, snickering.
I wanted to ask why, then, would he always look forward to attending those dinners if the topics and jokes were the same month after month for, uh, ten years now.
I bit my tongue; I knew better.
Old men (and women, for that matter) must never really grow old. They are able to weather life’s earthquakes and quicksands only because they keep the carefree little boy they once were in their hearts.