We are having lunch, well, dinner at the ABC Restaurant. I last ate at ten in the morning and now it is four in the afternoon, so dinner.
Breakfast really. That’s what Denny is ordering. Lucky for Denny there is a place that serves breakfast all day. He loves his sausages and eggs. Denny orders the lumberjack breakfast. I order the farmer sausage and fettuccine. It comes with a Caesar salad. That makes me feel a bit better about my choice.
“It’s nice to see you smile,” Denny is smiling at me across the table. We have finished our food. Through most of the meal I talked about my job. I tend to obsess about it and can’t seem to help myself. I constantly feel like I’m preparing for an exam I think I’ll fail.
I try to take my mind off it, for Denny’s sake, and make an attempt at a joke. I’m not really good at telling jokes but at least Denny recognizes it as such. Lately he has started to clue in to my humor.
“That wasn’t really funny,” I admit as the joke falls flat.
“But it’s nice to see you smiling.”
I think Denny’s life is pretty centered around seeing me smiling.
Denny doesn’t like it when I’m not smiling.
Sometimes he gets frustrated at me, like when I ask for something he can’t give me. I used to take it personally, but I’ve learned to let it slide. I tell myself it’s a symptom of his love. Honestly, Denny would give me what I wanted if he could. Things like a bigger house.
I appreciate that Denny likes his life to be simple. Get up, shower, get dressed, go to work. Come home, eat, sit at the computer, play banjo, go for a walk, go to bed. I try to be more like Denny. I try to have fewer aspirations. Simpler wants.
Tonight he wanted to take me to a movie. The one I wanted to go to was a sniper movie, but he said no, because it was R-rated.
“Anything with an F-word is R-rated.” The waitress arrives just as I say F-word, and I’m embarrassed. She hands us our plates. Denny prays.
“We each pray over our own food?” I ask him.
“Well I prayed when I got my salad.”
“We can pray more than once a day,” Denny has a focused look.
Denny is forgetting a few things these days, like that we already prayed.
“You know I’ve watched a lot of PG-13 movies that should have been R-rated,” I tell Denny.
Denny is eating.
“But I like snipers, you know,” I go on talking about the movie I’m interested in seeing. “My life is all about snipers, don’t you know?”
“No, I didn’t know that.”
“Don’t you know how I’ve always told you that in my mind I’m always shooting those little soldiers.” I see them lined up in the distance, like the toy soldiers Denny used to play with as a child and I shoot them. I thought it would be fun to watch a sniper movie.
He wants to watch a movie about solving a code in war time.
“Haven’t we watched one like that?” I ask.
“I don’t think so. We haven’t watched this one.”
I seem to remember watching a similar movie and thinking how challenging it must be for the producers to find enough filler material to hold the viewers’ attention while they progress the plot of solving a code.
Besides being R-rated, Denny doesn’t like action movies, especially if the camera is a bit quick and jerky. It makes his stomach sick. Once he walked out of the theatre a few minutes into an action movie. The action doesn’t bother me. I kind of like action movies. My grandmother’s favorite show was Dukes of Hazard. Maybe I get it from her.
We forget the movie and go home.
I ate too much farmer sausage and fettuccine. I topped it off with rhubarb pie—strawberry-rhubarb, the waitress corrected me. Now my stomach is hurting. I’m sitting in the living room with a blanket wrapped around me.
“I thought I saw you stop in the middle of your meal,” Denny tells me. “I saw you moving your fork around in your plate. I thought you were finished.”
My eyes widen. This man is becoming really observant in his old age. I think I like this change.
“Yeah, I should have stopped then. I heard a little voice tell me to. But I didn’t listen. Now I’m paying for it.” I vow to listen next time but the idea is making it hurt more.
Denny knows the routine. He goes and gets my corn bag and puts it in the microwave. It is like a bean bag, except it has corn in it.
I’m feeling nauseated and I’m thinking about Denny’s philosophy on dying. During a recent drive I told Denny that my health problems are making me wonder if I will die young.
“We live till we die,” he replied, eyes on the road.
I question him about that now. It sounded a bit fatalistic to me. He explains that what he means is that we should be thankful for each day that we are alive.
“Oh, I thought you meant, death is our destiny.”
He agrees that in a sense he did mean that too. “I think some people, when they have lived a full life, are ready to go. They’re tired. They’ve done what they wanted to do. They’ve had a full life.”
Somehow this doesn’t sound like Denny. Ready to go? Done with life? Maybe he thinks of death like an on/off switch. Lights out. Not really a negative.
“But don’t you think it’s wrong to want to go before your time?”
“I don’t know. It’s not that cut and dried. You get tired.”
I pause to think about this.
There was a time when Denny couldn’t wait to get old. I didn’t get it. He spent his youth wanting to be old. Recently he’s changed his tune and started telling me that getting old is not everything it’s talked up to be. Not that it was ever talked up to be anything, as far as I’d heard.
“When you get older you have all kinds of aches and pains. If it’s not one thing then it’s another.”
I think hanging out with his bluegrass buddies has influenced him. They’re all older.
“You know, David in the Bible pretty much despaired of life in his old age,” I tell Denny. “He had all kinds of trouble. His son tried to take his kingdom from him. He had to fix that and it couldn’t have been much fun.”
“And he couldn’t keep warm either,” I go on. I can relate to that. “He had to have that young thing sleep with him, to keep him warm. But they didn’t even have sex. Yes, I think he had pretty much packed it in by that time.”
Denny is quiet. No comment from Denny. I get up. The blanket comes off. Now I’m having a hot flash. At least David didn’t have this to deal with.
At 9:30 p.m. Denny suggests to me that we could go and see a movie. I am comfortably cocooned in the corner of the couch and my stomach is feeling better. I thought we had given up on going out and were planning to watch a Netflix movie at home.
“There’s still time to get there,” he tells me.
This going to the gym is really changing him—asking me to go to a late movie? He is full of surprises.
“All you’d have to do is put on a bra.”
“Why would I do that?”
“You don’t have to.”
“Nobody would notice.”
“No, only I would know.”
The movie about the code turned out to be better than I expected.