Here’s Looking at You

Scene: a table for two in the assisted living dining room. Rick, a 75 (or older man) with a high voice, takes out his sitting donut (is that what they’re called) from his walker, places it on the seat and sits down opposite a woman – I may as well call her Elsa – I don’t know her real name anyway.

She is well into her 80s, has flat grey hair that hangs down as if it were cut by placing a bowl on her head, measuring 10 inches and snipping from there. I know that beauty is only skin deep, but you would have to dig very deep to find it.

Her favorite activity, is to sit and watch the trains go by out the window, and every once in a while tell Rick: choo choo. As if she’s discovered something no one has seen before. But she’s not demented. She just notices things. Things she’s noticed the day before and the day before that.

At table, Rick reaches over and takes her liver spotted hand.

“You have the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen. Do you know that?”

I can’t describe his voice, tho I’ve thought about it for days. Is there something slightly menacing about it? No, how can that be. At first it sound sugary. High-pitched, but not too high-pitched. In a former life, I can see him selling insurance. Or maybe snake oil. I really can’t tell.

She looks out the window while he goes on.

“You know, I love everything about you, dear . Do you know that?”

No response that I can hear. They are at a nearby table. And I have to listen to the same dribble or wooing or whatever you want to call it every single day.

“You,” Rick continues, smoothing the hand, “are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Your face, your figure, and your brain. Do you know who I’m talking about, sweetheart?”

No response. The waitress walks by and says: Chicken or Pork?

This thankfully puts an end to the lovemaking for a while. The waitresses generally don’t tell you anything more about the entrees. And they’re always in a rush.

So if you’re fast, you say, what kind of chicken? Or what kind of pork? Or you’ve already tried to get a glimpse of the food as it speeds by on a cart.

After a lot of questioning, Elsa ends up getting a p&j sandwich. And Rick goes for the chicken. (In case you care, it’s chicken on a bun.) It’s a small chicken patty, preprocessed from chicken parts and always over-fried. Sometimes you need a scalpel to cut it.

Rick says to the waitress, “Oh, that looks delicious. Thank you dear!”

Then he turns back to Elsa.

“How is that sandwich sweetie?”

She responds but I can’t hear her.

Rick: You know who I love don’t you?

She shakes her head, no.

Rick: Oh you know. I’m head over heels in love with you. You know that.

So you get the idea. I do have to listen to this day after day, lunch and dinner. My own table companion is quiet, and deaf or going deaf. And I’m really not sure that I want to make fun of this scene that takes place several times a day.

She likes the attention, and saves a spot for him wherever they go by placing her sweater on the adjoining chair.

He loves having someone to love.

In fact, I’m the only one that minds. It reminds me of the mushy parts of all the adventure movies we watched as kids, before girls became interesting, when you’d go out for candy during the love scenes and return for the mighty battles.

But like the guy chained to the mountain with an eagle eating his liver, and the liver regrowing each night (one of those Greek guys) this dialogue continues everyday and I may have to take to wearing my noise-cancelling headphones during meals.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid.

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