HE DIDN’T LIKE being considered middle-aged, let alone a senior citizen. Not that he minded the savings now and again, ordering off the seniors’ breakfast menu and getting his sunny-side-up eggs, bacon and wheat toast, no butter, for ninety-nine cents cheaper. But to hear himself say ‘senior’ seemed somehow incongruent with how he knew himself to truly be. He could still chop and carry his own winter firewood, and quite often woke up to his own morning wood – not bad for sixty-three. Only the black-habited nuns who taught him to read and pray at St Francis’s stopped him from telling the ditzy waitress all about it: the wood, both kinds; if she cared to see he would show her and she sure wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
She had hurt his feelings. Before ordering he had neatly folded the paper, disgusted at the protesters marching against the most recent action in the Middle East. When he mentioned being an MP in Korea, she talked about M*A*S*H being a great show and Alan Alda a gorgeous man. He was stunned that she thought he was a veteran of the Conflict, when he had just been stationed in Korea during the Vietnam War. He’d spent three years breaking up drunken fights between raging soldiers on R&R and one year lazily driving the ranking officer from meeting to meeting. Not combat glory, exactly, but nothing to hang his head over. Just like that, the girl had added over a decade on him. So he wanted to shock her, let her know that it was a red-blooded man she was dealing with, not a shrivelled-up codger. He swallowed the saliva in his mouth. Instead of reaching into his pants, he carefully tore the edge of a creamer packet and tapped the contents into his coffee. The powder snowed down and dissolved in a clumpy swirl. He ignored the sugar packets at his elbow.
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