Saturday, June 8, 2019

What we need

There is a bagel place I go to when I am in south florida.  It's a couple of miles from the condo my brother and I inherited.  It sits in a strip mall and two doors away from the bagel establishment is a Starbucks.  A fancy restaurant anchors one end of the strip mall and a bank sits at the other. Near the bagel place and Starbucks are outdoor tables for sipping on coffee or eating bagel sandwiches while sipping on coffee.

Outside of the Starbucks there are two tables pushed together. And there, every time I have gone to this spot, a cluster of what I take to be octogenarians sit and hold court.  The thing is that while often the octogenarians are different; the conversation and reason for convening is essentially the same.

Yesterday for example, there were 8 of these fellows who chatted about politics, tv shows, and-- until a woman crony joined them-- their assessments of the asses of the women who went in and out of Starbucks.  One woman with high heels and very tight jeans--easy pushing 50 and maybe 60--who came over and gave one of the fellows a hug and a kiss--drew several quips once she walked away. Close your eyes and forget where you are in the country, and these could be fraternity boys based on the chatter.

Today I went back, in part to see who all would be there one day, and a few hours, later. Yesterday I had arrived around 8; today--a Saturday--it was closer to 1030.  Same two tables pushed together. Different octogenarians holding court.  I did not hear much kibbitizing about the sexual allure of the passersby.  (Because, maybe, it was shabbas?). Today the conversation had to do with the starting salary of pharmacists-"straight out of college, and they don't mix a damn thing, they just pour pills from one jar to another!"; problems with the tenure system; the mandatory retirement age which forced one of these fellows out of work; and the quality of hamburgers at two competing restaurants in the area.

So, why the clustering and kibitzing? These folks could have consumed their coffee and sandwiches at home.

Yesterday--when I went into Starbucks for the smallest coffee they had (and wound up wired until 4 pm)--I noticed several folks camped with computers at the indoor tables. This, as I blogged once before, is standard at all Starbucks.  Why are they sitting there long after their beverages have been consumed.  Just hanging out by others at nearby tables.

They are hanging around others for the same reasons the octogenarians gather--they need human interaction. We need to interact.  There are fewer encumbrances when we travel and sit alone. Nobody can irritate you with their own brand of craziness if you are at home.  Yet we travel and seek out the interaction with others because such contact is a balm despite the potential for off putting behavior.

Yesterday, one of the fellows at the table (I sat one table behind)--twice offered his opinion about two women who had walked by on separate occasions looking combative. The 80 year old's comment-twice, was the same. "She needs to get laid" he said. That, he seemed to suggest, would solve all problems.  I think this was this fellow's standard refrain. My bet is the next time I sit at Starbucks and he is around, he will comment similarly about some other annoying pedestrian.

In the general sense of the phrase, and generally speaking, the fellow is correct. That is we ALL need to "get laid." We need social intercourse. We need to shmooze, opine, chat, tell stories, try out jokes, and touch others.  Stay at home and you won't have to deal with a person pontificating about how all doctors are rat bastards because of one episode in a life, but you will miss the nourishment of the intercourse.

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