My sister and I went to a neat little place last night for dinner. It’s a pizza buffet place that’s been around in our town for decades, and I guess it’s one of those local secrets. She found out about it, though, and we gave it a try.
We go in and hear loud, New Orleans-style jazz playing live in this tiny little brick restaurant. A woman is dressed as Mrs. Claus and she’s happily welcoming people into the warm, friendly dining area. We’re seated in a booth right in the room with the jazz band, and all around us are tables with senior citizens, clearly there for the band. The band was made up of four older men and one middle-aged woman; she had on a sequined bolero and played the keyboard.
One old dude who played the trumpet had a big handlebar mustache and wore a Santa hat; we also noticed he had two little Christmas ball ornaments hanging on each side of the mustache!
There was one little old lady there with a fur coat on, and a small, gold sequined bowtie pinned to the side of her hair. She was adorable. Everyone in there was rocking out to the band, clapping after each song and having a great time. It was cute as hell. My sister and I decided that it was our kind of place. “This would make a great place to go on a date!” said my sister. She’s right. With the right guy, it would be awesome as hell.
Sometimes, it’s just the neatest feeling to go out and appreciate the kitschy feel of a family-owned and operated business. Someplace that has been there for years and years; something not all shiny, new and sterile. A little place like that, with its brick walls, low ceiling and wood paneling is so welcoming and comfortable. They even had a little salad bar in there, and to reach the dressing you had to basically step up next to the keyboard player–that’s how small the place was. I loved it, though.
The food was OK… nothing exceptional at all, but we’re definitely going to be going back several times. I can tell we found a new family favorite. It’s not as awesome as the other restaurant in our town, the one with the giant organ, organ player who takes requests, the flashing lights and cat marionette puppets. But this is so cool, as it is.
I love old people like that. It makes me miss Granny and Pop-Pop so much, because they’d really get a kick out of that place. They’d be right at home, sitting in there, smiling and talking with friends as a happy little jazz band played.
But with the volunteering thing I’ll be starting this year, I hope to get to know some older people again. I miss talking with people who have been there, done that… people who are willing to tell long stories, and appreciate the little things in life. I hope to make some friends, maybe find a surrogate grandma. That would rock. I’d pick her up and take her to see a movie once in awhile, or go sit in the park and people watch. Writer Ex had a friend like that when I was dating him. I loved that lady. He met her in an art class they both took at the local college, and we went to her art shows. She was 80-something and did abstract paintings and charcoal drawings, and she was GOOD. She was small, with calm, contented eyes and when you talked, she would want to hold your hand and just look intently in your face. She made a person feel so important, and made the art of conversation feel so vital. I loved when we would hang out with her. She was actually one of the first computer programmers, back in the 1950s. She told us about the gigantic computers housed on whole floors of office buildings, and how tough it really was to be a woman doing work like that, during that time period. She had a masters in computer science, or something like that… it was an impressive scientific degree, I know that much.
I lost track of her after Writer Ex and I broke up, and I kind of regret that. I wonder about her sometimes, and hope she is still around, painting and talking in that sweet, meaningful way with her friends. She’s the kind of old lady I’d like to grow up to be, seriously.
Her… or Betty White. Goddess!