About 713 million years ago, on the west side of Houston, Texas, three girlfriends and I were drinking vodka martinis as if our lives depended on it.
It was a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon.
We were seated in the atrium at a T.G.I.Fridays.
Our conversation was lively and probably grew louder, as the martini consumption tripled and then doubled again.
Flat out, we were getting lit.
It was that time of the day where restaurants have lulls…after lunch, but not quite the dinner rush.
Back then, anyone over the age of 27 was considered older than dirt to us, and there was a table with three “old,” well-dressed women having a late lunch and drinks of their own, at the next table away from us.
We laughed and drank and laughed some more, and couldn’t help but draw attention to ourselves.
We didn’t care.
Inevitably, the conversation turned to the usual topics of 22-year-old women who each tended bar for a living; Slinging drinks and guys.
Sometimes we talked about guys who slung drinks, but you get the gist.
Any time young women talk about young guys, the subject of clarinet lessons WILL arise.
(See what I did there?)
Of the four of us, we had everything from the avid enthusiast to the head-shaking, flat-out refusal and the lukewarm-to-tepid, “I’ll do it, but I’m not going to suggest it or offer to do it.”
Engrossed in conversation, it wasn’t long before the bread sticks on the table were being used as props for proper grip and technique.
After a while and even in our drunken haze, we noticed that our “neighbors” had taken an interest in our conversation.
Judging by the way our male server hovered, he was just as interested in the topic as our nearby neighbors were.
Misjudging as our fellow diners being prudes, we — being the young, we-know-everything women that we were way back then — became more animated in our demonstrations, in our mock efforts to get our friend to talk into the microphone because she wanted to; Not because her boyfriend begged or bargained with her.
Man alive, we could not have been more wrong on every dang level.
First, our friend — no matter how wasted she got — wasn’t have any part of the Lewinsky initiation.
And second, the diners at the table next to ours were sword-swallowing old birds, and who reveled in the deed.
Not. Even. Kidding. A. Little. Bit.
Before long, the three women at the adjacent table were offering tips, giving demonstrations with their own table props, and the prettiest woman of them all showed off how she relaxed her gag reflex by “sword swallowing” her butter knife, right there at the table.
May God strike me dead right here and now, if I’m lying.
Obviously, more drinks were ordered, and our server brought us more appetizers — on the house — just to keep his in-house entertainment, well, in the house.
I don’t mind telling you I learned A LOT from those three sword swallowing old birds that day.
We pushed the two tables together and the seven of us spent the next hour or so laughing it up.
Not only were those sword swallowing old birds a hoot, they were a wealth of information!
These days, I still wonder if my friend still refuses to turtle snorkel. We lost touch many years ago.
More often these days, people ask me why I have such an affinity for my elderly friends and neighbors.
“Respect, first and foremost,” is my standard reply.
But just between you and me, I learned, all of those years ago, that if you listen to what the “old folks” have to say — the folks who have lived on this blue rock a helluva lot longer than you have — what you’ll learn is invaluable.
And they’re happy to share their knowledge!