Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Day USA 2018

The atmosphere here today was typical of a Thanksgiving holiday - less traffic, grey skies and a sudden eruption of children everywhere. The occasion did not however impede my normal curmudgeonly schedule.  It was breakfast as always then bicycling.  Again today I made it to Longboat Pass bridge and back (about sixteen miles), a distance I had initially thought was beyond my scope after similar outings yesterday and the day before.  Apparently I am adjusting to the new limit (which formerly extended only half as far to the 5000 Block just past Bayfront Park).  We have succeeded to accommodate the familial absorption associated with this festive day by arranging to dine on Holmes Beach this evening.

As I bicycled this morning I passed by an elderly lady on the sidewalk.  She was walking her two small dogs (which looked to be miniature Collies).  She had a cane. I am quite certain I have seen her before. She probably keeps the same routine of morning exercise as do I. Though I am always careful to ring my bell when coming up behind pedestrians I am never sure whether - especially if they are elderly - they hear the chirp.  And I don't like to ring the bell enthusiastically lest it gives the impression I am about to attack.  Given the advanced age of the woman (I am assuming she was as old as she and her gait looked from behind - plus she had the obvious mobility issue exemplified by the stick) and that there were too lethargic dogs in tow, I decided instead to slow down to a crawl as I passed (and having wrung the bell gently).  The dogs were clearly accustomed to similar disturbance and did not seem startled by my appearance.  I suspect the dogs and their mistress have endured this routine many times in the past.  As I came alongside the pedestrians (and briefly drifted awkwardly into the rigid grass bordering the sidewalk but recovered without catastrophe or embarrassment), the old lady said, "Happy Thanksgiving!" which I found winsome. My suspicion is she is a local - by which I mean she has been here before the developers discovered the place in the early '70s. She hadn't the reserve of a well-heeled tourist or the synthetic ebullience of someone "from away". My romantic inclination is that she has a story to tell but naturally I shall never know.

Competing with that expectation is what transpired in the hot tub later this afternoon.  I reunited there with a woman (probably about 65 years of age) whom I had met several days ago with her daughter and husband. When we met we all quipped about the method to remember someone's name when you first meet.  The thesis - often reported - is to repeat the name immediately following the introduction.  Frankly even that never assures me success.  But in this case it worked - likely because we had talked about it so extensively.  So when the woman arrived she gleefully addressed me by name, a celebration I returned to her!  We both laughed.  I told her I had been rehearsing. Our conversation then descended into a discussion of travel and other personal matters - though none of which was especially intimate.  To my surprise - and for no apparent reason other than the obvious one of unadulterated curiosity - the woman then asked where my wife came from.  To which I replied, "Which one?"  She of course added, "How many are there?" to which I retorted, "I'm damaged goods; I've been around the block three times!"  All of which is technically true - though perhaps somewhat lacking in detail. The interrogation then diverted to a more general discussion of the frequency of marriage, divorce statistics and the like.

At table this evening we began chatting at the end of the meal with a married couple seated next to us.  They are from Philadelphia but have lived on Anna Maria Island for the past ten years.  He is a healthy-looking 75 years of age and a golfer; she is 65 and recovering from a knee operation last week (and still in great pain following the expiry of the narcotics). Earlier I thought I heard him say that they had lived together for about 21 years before moving here. So I asked him whether they were still shacked up or married.  He said they were married. At which point he asked me, "Are you partners?"  I wasn't ready for this line of investigation any more than I had been earlier this afternoon in the hot tub.  I replied, "I guess you could say that.  We were in jail together."  Following which I swear I heard him murmur, "It's Okay".

The restaurant had a limited menu, classified as its Thanksgiving Day Menu. There were a number of choices designed to attend the traditional repast of the day - squash soup, turkey with all the fixings (including a very acceptable stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce) and pumpkin pie.  In addition there was deference to Floridian taste - such as grouper and spare ribs.  I opted for the turkey dinner and was not disappointed. My penitentiary acquaintance chose more exotic fare - duck confit, scallops and a cheese board for dessert.

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