I guess it was about ten years ago that I started noticing old guys sitting in groups in coffee shops in the early morning. Now, I'm one of the old guys.
Maybe you have started to see us too, at the Ozark Café, or at McDonalds, or just about any place that opens real early and sells coffee along with eggs and a side of whatever. I think these groups erupt spontaneously as the result of creaky, short nights of fitful sleep: it is four o'clock in the morning and you can't sleep anymore...so you might as well get up and go get a cup of coffee.
That's the condition my condition is in. Too much stuff hurts to allow me to lie still for very long, and I know that time is growing short. I don't exactly pop out of bed, but it is a sure thing that when the night is over it is over. Thankfully, the coming day presents enough foolishness and wonder to make it worth getting up, and I take comfort knowing that I'm not alone: men all over town are falling in for old guy reveille.
"You get uglier every day," an earlier arrival says in greeting. "My eggs would take drugs at the sight of you if they weren't already fried."
By 6:45 AM, we sit, four hundred years of collective wisdom. Today, the topic of conversation turns to absolute facts, things and ideas that are always true, all of the time. "What do you want your kid to know?" someone asks.
"A woman's love is like a horse turd," one old guy says. "It is as likely to fall on a cactus as a rose."
"Go to the bathroom as often as one shows up," another old guy says." You never know when you'll be caught short."
"Never buy cheap paint."
"Wherever you go, there you are."
"If you don't know who the fish is five minutes into a poker game you're it."
"Man's best friend is an 8.5% return on an investment."
"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly."
"There is no such thing as a large whiskey or a small amount of money."
"My kid got an MBA and this is what he learned: 'A stitch in time saves nine. A fool and his money are soon parted. A penny saved is a penny earned.' I could have told him that, but noooo..."
"Warren Zevon was the best there ever was."
"When a politician's lips are moving you know he's telling a lie."
"If you don't behave yourself in this life you'll be reintarnated as a hillbilly."
It gets worse. But it is still early in the morning and you can only drink so much coffee. Some of us have jobs to go to, and we all have wives who expect a full report of where we have been, even though they know where we have been. Time grows shorter and now, an hour later, groups of women begin to arrive. It is definitely time to skedaddle.