Two Old Men

I was sitting on the outside terrace, reading.  At the table across from me, two men were arguing about politics.  Chatter, chatter, chatter.  Chatter, chatter, chatter.  There was a pause in the conversation, and then one of the men spoke again.

“How old are you?” he asked the other one.  My ears perked up.  I peeked up covertly from my book.  The question had been directed at the white-haired gentleman of the pair.  His back was to me.  He began to stand up, gathering his things.

“How old do you think I am?” he asked.  Always an interesting question… The dark-haired man who had asked regarded him carefully.  Momentarily, he said, “Sixty-five?”

“I’m seventy-one,” the white-haired man said with satisfaction, tossing his bag over his shoulder.

“Wow,” said the dark-haired man.  “You look good!”  He eyed the white-haired gentleman’s slim legs and broad shoulders.  For seventy-one, he did look good.  The other gentleman nodded in acknowledgment of the compliment, and began to walk away.img_0594
“How old do you think I am?” the dark-haired man called out to his retreating back.  The white-haired man stopped and turned. He looked the other man over for a moment.  My ears had perked up even further.  This was bound to be interesting.  Presently, he said, “Sixty-five?”

The dark-haired man glowered at him for a long moment, giving him a chance to change his answer.  But there was to be no retracting the guess.  There was only silence.

“A little high,” he finally said, lifting his espresso and taking a sip.  His eyebrows were furrowed over his cup, and when he set it down it clattered noisily on the table.  “I’m fifty.”

The other gentleman didn’t seem overly bothered.  “Well, I guess you do have that dark hair,” he said.

“I color it,” the scowling man replied.

“And I have been traveling for a long time, all over the world, to India…” the older gentleman continued.  “It keeps you in good shape.”

Their conversation ended and I pretended to be absorbed in my book again.  The white-haired gentleman walked away, and the one who remained took several agitated sips at his espresso.  Then he shot a glance at me.

“Hello,” he said across the tables.  I looked up, pretending to notice him for the first time.  “Hello,“ I replied.  And for the next hour, he lectured me on the importance of travel, the absurdity of faith, and the merits and downfalls of the world’s greatest religions.


2 Responses to Two Old Men

  1. Sheila says:

    Great vignette – a peek into the lives of two men I’ve never seen and never will.

  2. Charlie says:

    Dear Sarah,
    It sounds like you are having a great trip. One old man admirer of yours is in Dublin today visiting his grandchildren. Mary Kay and I are taking our 12 year old granddaughter to see Arthur Miller’s ALL MY SONS at the Gate Theater here in Dublin tonight. Next week we are heading over to London for the Queen’s birthday. As you could guess I’ve sipped many a pint of Guiness these last few days since Easter but none has been served by as beautiful a person as you. As a matter of fact all of them have been men many over 65. Happy Easter. Peace and joy.

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