Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

If you are new to me, you need to know that I do some volunteer activities that involve me taking a group of people out for dinner once a month in a big old 15-passenger van. Every so often I write about it, giving fake names to my people, of course. You can always do a search over there on the right hand side, in the box that is cleverly titled “Search”, if you want to read other posts I’ve written about it. Just type in “senior citizens” or “volunteer” and all related posts should pop up. In news that has absolutely nothing to do with volunteering, if you’d like to see pictures of hot guys who are my friends, type in “Tony” or “Javier” or “Quan” or “Dammit Todd”. That ought to keep you busy for a while.

I had dinner with my senior citizens on Thursday night.* We skipped November and December as most of us have a lot going on and I get maybe two people who sign up in those heavy holiday months. For a while two people didn’t seem enough to merit a trip but when we met in January after our two-month hiatus, I was talking with my group about what they did for the holidays and Lillian said, “Christmas is just another day for me.”

I asked, “You didn’t spend it with your family?”

Lillian replied, “I don’t have any family. When you have no people, it’s just another day.”

I don’t need to tell you that I got a little misty-eyed as I vowed to never skip another month again, and I’ll urge you again, please find a way to give your time to a cause, whatever flips your skirt. Somebody, somedog, somecat out there needs you and I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how much you need them in return.

Anyway, I had dinner with my group and this month I picked Whiskey Kitchen* as our restaurant. I have no idea why I picked it. Probably it was the first name that popped into my head and at the time, it sounded like a marvelous idea because a lot of my people get pretty excited about Golden Corral, and I’d like for them to be a bit more adventurous than that. Whiskey Kitchen is in the Gulch (sort of downtown Nashville), and you can discern just by the name and the area that this was going to be a painfully trendy night. I’m not big on trendy at all. I find that trendy places typically have difficult and expensive parking options, that the waiting time is awfully long and that there is stuff on the menu I cannot pronounce, usually consisting of raw onion and duck liver. My group, in a unique turnaround, was very excited about Whiskey Kitchen, and for the first time in a year I had a full van and a waiting list of people desperate to go. It seems that a whole slew of them have always wanted to go but no one wanted to brave the awful traffic, the ridiculous parking and the long wait time, at least not alone. If I was driving and I was parking and I was there to entertain them, everyone wanted to go (unlike the time I took them to Suzy Wong’s House of Yum – also a painfully trendy place and every one of my group turned up their noses in a sneer at it). I guess it’s time to revisit the trendy places. It seems we have progressed.

As we were leaving the center for the restaurant, one of the directors walked out to the van to see us off. He poked his head in the back and said, “Really? Jimmie AND Jan are going? I might need to chaperone – this night could be interesting.” I was indignant! Well, I was indignant for about 30 seconds. After giving it some thought, I realized he was probably right as Jan is me in 30 years and neither of us ever suffer from boredom or lack of something to say.

I’ve told you about a few of my favorite people before, Lillian being one of them, Jan being another. I’ve got a new favorite – I’ll call her Nancy. Nancy is exactly what you’d expect a typical 70-something type grandmother to be. She’s soft spoken, gets her hair done once a week, wears her heirloom jewelry. She’s very sweet and kind to everyone and, as I learned, just chock full of surprises. I’ve known her for a few years now but I’m learning to never underestimate any of these people. Nancy was talking about a book club she joined online in which she pays a small fee and get wads of books sent to her for almost nothing. She was telling us about a book she recently got: “It looked like it was maybe a romance book, I like those, and once I got into it, I realized that it was a romance book but it was about two men. I thought maybe I should stop reading it but do you know what kinds of things two men get up to in the bedroom? Well, I didn’t and this book told me all about it, so I read it. I wanted to know. I learned a lot.”

And Marge sat there listening to every word with her mouth hanging open, entranced. “Did you finish the book,” she asked.

“I did,” said Nancy. “You want to borrow it?”

“Yes!” yelped Marge, and I just sat there a little stunned. I never . . . .

As we were leaving that night, stuffed full of food whose names I could pronounce, the van was very quiet. It always is on the ride home, a 180 degree turn from the trip to the restaurant where the chatter is so much I cannot hear one conversation over another. We passed Déjà Vu, the strip club on the corner of Demonbreun and something (I’m not so good with directions), and I said “Who’s up for a stop at Déjà Vu?”

Jan piped up from the back seat, “Not tonight, Jimmie. I don’t work there on Thursday nights. Only Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They wouldn’t be expecting to see me with my clothes on.”

And that right there is why I do this. I love these people. I guess next time the center director will have to say, “Jimmie AND Jan AND Nancy AND Marge? I might need to chaperone – this night could get interesting.”

*The group I volunteer with is Fifty Forward. I Highly Recommend it if you know anyone aged fifty and above who needs some excitement in their life. Fifty Forward offers weekly trips, daily activities, health and wellness classes, jewelry making classes, international travel and a lot of camaraderie and companionship. Many of the members are widowed or alone for various reasons, and many, many friendships stem from their meeting at the center. While I’m Highly Recommending things, I’ll also Highly Recommend Whiskey Kitchen. Aside from the man wearing a bow tie and fashionably ugly glasses at the table behind us who hollered “MF-er!” and “F-er!” during his entire conversation, the experience was fabulous. The chef was accommodating, the food was fantastic and the staff was just lovely. Brave the drive and the parking and go. Totally worth it.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Auntie Anne
    Mar 03, 2014 @ 13:03:02

    Good for Nancy! I do sometimes forget, down here in Key West, that there are still parts of this country where homosexuality is remarkable. Nobody I know, even straight white Christian men, remarks on it here. The recent contretemps in Arizona made the news big time, though, for which I am grateful. Because of that, even people who still think they don’t know any gay people might conclude it’s rude to discriminate. XO


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