Thursday, November 09, 2006

In the park I’m watching 6 older men hunched over a picnic table. They are contemplating moving that table. It’s more complicated than it would appear. There is a fair amount of coordination and working well with others. You can’t have one guy hold the table over his head and the other one dragging his end on the ground. Speed needs to be monitored and readjusted every so often. Carrying a table up a flight of stairs is rocket science. The only difference is that rocket scientists don’t ask each other repeatedly ‘you all right?'

The older men stand around the table, their large belly pushing against the sides of the table. They lift the table and immediately set it down. That was a practice run. They are ever mindful of their aching lower backs. They straighten up, confer, regroup and laugh at something one of them said.

“Hold up a second,” shouts a lady wearing a maroon apron as she runs towards them. She has been working the grill and shouting out orders in a fast paced but good-natured way. She is full of the joy that comes with being very busy with thing you know how to do well like cooking and bossing others at a picnic. She kids the men and seems to chastise them. The men look at the ground or the table sheepishly. They are more than willing to play the part of naughty boys caught doing something they shouldn't. A couple of the older men play the part of the grumpy curmudgeon but you know it is all an act. They aren’t curmudgeons, curmudgeons don’t go to picnics. Curmudgeons stay home and curmudge; there isn’t time for much else. They smirk out of the sides of their mouths with each wiseass remark. The discussion is over. Five men get on one side of the table and push while the 6th gets on the other side and pulls. The 6th probably realizes that he is not really moving the table at all but there is no more room on the other side and no one likes to feel left out at a picnic, including or perhaps especially curmudgeonly older men.

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