Recently, I was invited by my mom and aunt to be their guest at the Long Timers’ Luncheon. This group gets together once a month (some say it takes the place of that other thing that happens to women once a month that none of the members have to worry about, “thank Heavens!”). These lovely ladies visit, eat, and compare aches, pains and funny memory lapses. For example, at the most recent luncheon, the third I have attended, our table was called to enter the line for the buffet. We all got up and toddled over. When a certain lady with whom I share DNA returned, she placed her plate down on an empty table near the one at which we had been sitting, prior to getting up. I spied this from my vantage point at the correct table, the one that the rest of us had made it back to. I immediately leaned in and whispered into the ear of the gal sitting next to me:
“Hee hee, look at ________. She went back to the wrong table.”
Just then, ________ looked up, rolled her eyes and laughed out loud. Then she hustled over to her spot at our table.
“I wondered where the hell everyone went! You guys were ahead of me!”
The Long Timers are an exclusive club. Applicants are subjected to an intense screening process. This interrogation, I mean, interview, takes place in a broom closet, which is lit by a bare light bulb swinging from a frayed wire hanging above a wobbly card table. At the center of the table sets a candy dish with a crocheted doily underneath. The interviewer is all business. I won’t mention any names, but it rhymes with “Margie Piccardo.” Rumor has it that not only did Margie hold the pink slip of the “Straight Talk Express” bus before eventually selling it for an undisclosed amount to John McCain for his failed presidential bid, but she was his first choice as a running mate. Unfortunately, her refusal to disclose the coordinates of her favorite fishing spot at Silver Lake during the Secret Service’s vetting process eliminated her from the running.
Here is the complete transcript from a recent Long Timer inductee’s membership interview:
Margie: Do you have anything better to do?
Margie: Have you been alive a long time?
Margie: Congratulations! You’re in!
Applicant: In what?
My first experience with the Long Timers was in November of last year. That luncheon was held at St. Sava Mission. I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than some good grub, since the Lady Serbs were cooking.
Settled into my chair, nestled between my aunt and my mom, with my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law at a nearby table, the event’s hostess began calling off the November birthdays, including age. I was beaming—not because I had a November birthday, but because every name/age they called was decades older than me. I felt younger by the minute—right up to the moment I overheard this from across the table:
“For God-sakes! I can’t seem to ever use that cross-town freeway in Stockton without missing the exit to Hwy 88!”
Hold the phone! Had I found my people? Was I home? I looked around, into the soft eyes of those seated near me, and began picking up snippets of conversations. I noticed the confused look on the faces of the people asking the questions:
“How ya doin’?”
“Been pretty regular, so I can’t complain.”
“How’s your bunions?”
“Great! I planted two rows yesterday!”
It was the very same look my kids display when they talk to me.
“What time will dinner be ready?”
“You need dinner again tonight?”
I noticed other similarities, too, such as the 10-second threshold for reapplying one’s lipstick after the last bite of food is finished. My weapon of choice may be lip gloss, and not the opaque, coral-colored glue-stick preferred by my new pals, but nevertheless, I proudly applied it several times throughout the afternoon, knowing that nobody was judging.
Back to my most recent visit to the Long Timer’s Luncheon. With Maura behind the bar, and Bart on the food (literally…what a mess) what could go wrong? I breezed in at the end of cocktail hour, which meant that I ran past my mom, waving, as I hurled myself in the direction of the bar before it closed. What happened next was not my fault.
I ordered a glass of wine. Maura poured it. Everything seemed fine, until I sat down at the spot my mom had reserved for me at her table. My glass was twice the size as everyone else’s. Crikey! Maybe they wouldn’t notice, I thought to myself. No such luck. Not only did they notice, but it was the first thing they noticed! Comments flew in every direction:
“Look at the size of that!”
“Well! I guess you rate!”
“Super-buddy courtesy?” I said meekly, shrugging my shoulders.
Luckily, just then, one of the gals near me spilled her wine. I jumped at the chance to leave the table and get her a refill. Off I went.
“Maura, __________ spilled her wine. She needs another glass. And they all want to know who I had to sleep with to get such a big glass. I told them Bryant.” (Maura’s 23-year old son, who happened to be standing right next to her, wearing an apron.)
Me: “I’m not joking. Four of them have already asked me for his number. ”
Bryant: “Right on!”
At the end of the day, it was, as always, a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend a couple hours. Not unlike a spa day, a forty-something like me walks away from the Long Timer’s Luncheon feeling wrinkle-free and (almost) fertile.