There has been very little work for me during the Pandemic but life is getting busier again. Last week I worked an evening event in downtown. I had a couple of hours to myself so went to the restaurant next door, found a quiet place in the bar and sat down. Then I people watched. It was as though my life was flashing before me.
Like most of us, I haven’t been out to an event or party for a long time. This was a midweek night but the joint was jumping. A very loud party was on the patio close to the bar. They looked as though they were at some type of conference; certainly they were work colleagues with briefcases or whatever you call them now… As I gazed at them over the top of my glasses with a slight frown, I pondered how old I was and how much I looked like my auntie in Ireland! The booze was flowing and I recognized myself in past decades. How much fun it was to meet colleagues or even better friends after a long absence! Everyone was talking over each other and screeching with delight.
Then another party started arriving – equally fascinating to stare at. They were all Latino and they could have been attending a Quinceneara but I didn’t notice a teenager in a vividly colored prom dress. I then surmised it was something like an engagement party. They were all dressed beautifully with glamorous gold lame and shimmery high heels (not the men). The ladies make up looked like it was professionally applied. It was a fancy schmancy restaurant and some of these guests looked a little ill at ease but at least they were following the dress code.
A young white couple came in; she was wearing a lovely summer dress but he had shorts and a baseball cap on. The host asked him twice to remove it – I wanted to swipe it off his head and give him a lesson in etiquette which again proves how ancient I am. I was wearing a uniform of sorts so looked business casual but I had comfy shoes on. You reached the restaurant by precariously climbing wooden stairs (it was a historic building) and I have no idea how the ladies with stilettos did it. I had to walk sideways and hold onto the stair rail because it was so dimly lit. The next day my thighs hurt as though I was doing squats.
We moved to Egypt in our 40’s and went to some very glamorous events and restaurants. After two decades in rural Scotland with rubber boots and anoraks, I took great delight in my new wardrobe full of fluttery dresses and so many shoes! Egyptian women have wide feet and for the first time I could buy ‘Burberry’ slides, kitten heels in embossed leather with a matching bag in every color. It was even better in Texas and I still remember my glittery pink cowboy boots. At the time I was prepared to suffer the discomfort of uncomfortable shoes just to look pretty – not any more.
Teddy and I used to indulge ourselves with very frequent meals out and enjoyed the buzzy atmosphere of a busy bar or restaurant. Now we have a no salt/no alcohol/no nothing regimen. I doubt that I would truly enjoy a restaurant meal again except on a special occasion. When I was a child, we never went to restaurants. All we could afford was a coffee at a café or maybe a real Coca Cola with the swirly bottles. I still love egg sandwiches with a soupçon of sand in them. Such happy memories of Nana, Mum and I taking the train to the beach with a picnic on sunny days (the sand came afterwards).
Bit by bit, the customers started to leave. Darkness falls early in the sub tropics so I sat there longing to be in my bed watching ‘The Gilded Age’ or somesuch. In the past I would have taken the opportunity to chat to the hostess or if I wasn’t working, I would happily engage someone in conversation at the bar. Now I just want to sit in silence. Finally, there were three people left at the other work event on the patio. The noise level had decreased but the drunkenness had increased exponentially. I watched with great amusement as a handsome young Irish man tried to wrangle his two female colleagues out of the restaurant and safely into Ubers. It was a struggle not to laugh as the following scene played out in front of me.
Woman staggering as Irish Man tries to hold her up, “I hate it when I drink and everything is fine and then suddenly, I am so drunk! Why does this happen to me?” Irish Man, “You’re alright love. I understand. Let me help you down these stairs and into an Uber.” “No, no! I don’t know what’s happening!!” Meanwhile his other drunk colleague is barely managing the narrow indoor stairs that lead up to the restrooms and heading in the wrong direction. He was herding cats and it was hilarious! No judgment from me, however, as it took me many years to figure out exactly how much I could drink. Two glasses of wine are my limit and even that is pushing it.
Suddenly old age and retirement seemed so appealing. You should enjoy life to the full when you want to because one day you will be tired – like me! So, this leads me back to the title, ‘A Simpler Life’. It seems as though I have come full circle and I am happiest leading a quiet life full of squirrels. The two pictured at the top were exhausted after another hot day. One is named ‘Tail’ because hers was fractured at some point and is wonky (medical terminology) – the other is her boyfriend or sibling? They snooze together and gently play tumbling their wilkies while giving each other wee love bites. We look at them and just melt. Who needs fancy nights out when you can look at wildlife all day?