This weekend Luke and I took off for Reno to have a little “getaway.” We got a hotel room, reservations at a nice steakhouse, tickets to the Adam Carolla comedy show and set aside a little money to play some casino games.
After checking into the hotel and taking a tour of the casino, we sat down for dinner. We were sitting in one of those half booths where you’re more side-by-side than across from each other.
Directly across from our table sat an older man (80 yrs old) who was dining alone. I first noticed him when the waitress came by to take his order and he talked so loudly it was like he was yelling.
Old Man: WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING ON THE MENU?!
Waitress: That would be our fresh-water lobster, sir for $70.
Old Man: OK – GIVE ME TWO OF THOSE. WAIT- HOW WILL I KNOW IT’S REALLY FRESH-WATER AND YOU’RE NOT DUPING ME!?
I didn’t think too much about this conversation- he probably had hearing issues and what 80 yr old isn’t a little picky about his food?
Shortly after our appetizers arrived, we heard another shout- this one directed at us.
Old Man: YOU THERE! WHAT ARE YOU EATING?
Luke: it’s the venison appetizer.
Old Man: ANY GOOD?!
Luke: Yeah it’s great.
This initial conversation opened the flood gates for the old man to basically join our dinner. Throughout the night he would talk to us about once every five minutes and when he wasn’t talking to us, he’d stare intently at our table.
He started off sweet:
Old Man: YOU KIDS ARE A GREAT-LOOKING COUPLE.
Me: Aww thanks.
Old Man: YOU REMIND ME OF WHEN I WAS YOUNG AND MARRIED. I’D PROBABLY PAY A MILLION DOLLARS TO SWITCH PLACES WITH YOU.
This is where it went downhill into depression-mode.
Old Man continues: MY WIFE IS DEAD. (He motions to the seat across from him) THIS IS WHERE SHE SHOULD BE SITTING, BUT I GUESS SHE’S LOOKING DOWN ON ME….OR MAYBE I’M LOOKING DOWN ON HER (imitates looking down on hell)
Old Man: WELL THAT ALSO DEPENDS ON WHICH WIFE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT….
Old Man: I GOT TWO KIDS AND TWO GRANDKIDS THOUGH. I MEAN THE GRANDKIDS ARE ADOPTED, BUT I GUESS THEY STILL COUNT.
Yeah we decided to let that strain of conversation end at that. Sure enough though, five minutes later he bellowed out:
Old Man: HEY YOU! (looking at me)
Old Man: DOES HE BEAT YOU!?
Me: Not that I know of!
Old Man: OH OKAY- THAT’S GOOD. I WAS JUST WONDERING HOW HE SNAGGED YOU. THOUGHT MAYBE HE BEAT YOU.
DON’T EVER LET HIM LAY A HAND ON YOU!!!!!
Me: Yeah- no beating, don’t worry.
And another five – ten minutes later.
Old Man: HEY KIDS. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY YOU’RE YOUNG.
Luke: Yeah we are.
Old Man: GOOD. BECAUSE IT REALLY STINKS BEING OLD- ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR WIFE DIES AND YOU’RE ALONE- BECAUSE THAT WILL HAPPEN EVENTUALLY.
Luke thought this old guy was pretty entertaining, but all the talk about how terrible it was to be old and alone had me utterly depressed. I felt so bad for this man and had scary flashes of the future.
Was this what my life was going to be like someday? Sitting alone, drunk in a Reno, NV casino yelling like a crazy person at a young couple about how I wished I was them?
Just as I was about to get really depressed, the old man bellowed out that in honor of the great company we’d provided him, he was going to buy us a “CREME BRU-BRUBLEE” for dessert.
I was touched that he wanted to treat us to dessert and realized that we really had helped make his night better just by talking with him a little and letting him feel a part of our night.
I ended up even wondering if I thought this cantankerous old man was a little charming? Well, maybe charming wasn’t the right word.
All in all, sure it wasn’t the romantic, intimate meal I had in mind, but thanks to this crazy old man, it ended up being one of the more interesting dining experiences I’ve ever had!