ALL I REALLY WANTED TO DO was read The New York Times and enjoy my “simple Mexican breakfast” of rice, beans, eggs, salsa and tortillas when I stopped in this morning at one of my favorite Berkeley lunch counters.
But the African-American man with salt-and-pepper beard, droopy but penetrating eyes sitting next to me just had to talk to someone, so I politely obliged him.
“Had your coffee, young man?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, “first thing, have to have it when I get up or I can’t function.”
“I used to be like that,” he said.
“But after one cup,” I continued, “I am usually good for the whole day. Maybe I’ll have another cup in the afternoon, but not always.”
He laughed. “I only drink coffee every other morning, but I drink brandy every night. Brandy keeps you looking young. But you got to drink it every night.”
Somewhat incredulous, I prodded him, “how’s that?”
“Look at me,” he replied holding up 6 fingers, “this is how old I will soon be. Can you believe that, young man?”
“Well you only have 40 years to go,” I answered.
I thought about telling him that I’m 67 but decided not to. Didn’t want to ruin his day or his perceptions. I turned back to my newspaper, and he soon found someone else to talk to.
Seems strange to think of 60 as old. I think of 60 as young. 70 is middle age. At 80 you are older but still not old. 90 and above is old.
Death, when it comes, should only happen after age 100.