The Way We Were

Margaret B. Davidson 


© Copyright 1999 by Margaret B. Davidson 


I do wish you wouldn’t wear that T-shirt, John.”

Why not? I am an ‘Old Fart.’ You should wear yours, Rose. They’re supposed to be worn together.”

Rose patted her prettily coifed gray hair and retorted haughtily, “I refuse to consider myself an ‘Old Fart’s Wife!’ I think our Billy showed very poor taste in giving us those shirts for our anniversary.”

John glanced across the table at his wife and chuckled merrily, “Aaw, come off it Rosie girl. Where’s your sense of humor? You sure laughed when Billy gave ‘em to us.”

I had to. There were lots of people watching us open those gifts. I didn’t want to look like an old . . . Well . . . like an ‘old fart’s wife,’ I guess. She grinned sheepishly.

A waitress hurried up and slapped two tumblers of water down on the table. “I’m Brenda and I’ll be your waitress this afternoon. What can I get you folks?”

Bring us a pitcher of San Gria and a basket of rolls, please. We’ll order the rest later.

Brenda flounced off in the direction of the kitchen, her manner huffy.

They don’t like it when people come in for the ‘early bird special’ and then don’t order right away,” remarked Rose.

You can get the ‘early birds’ ‘til five. We’ll order at one minute ‘til five. Aah, here’s the vino.” John poured a glass for Rose, and another for himself. Then reaching across the table he clicked his glass against hers. “Here’s to us, love.” They each took an appreciative sip.

You know,” said John, “I don’t feel old at all, but I suppose I must be. Why else would we be eating dinner this early? It’s not as if we need the “early bird” to save money. God knows, we’ve got plenty of that to be goin’ on with. We’re eating early because we like to eat early. Didn’t used t’ be this way.” He stared into space reflectively for a moment. Then, grinning at Rose, he said,

Hey old girl, remember how we used to eat dinner at midnight? We used to do that all the time back in the old days. Midnight was just the beginnin’ of the evening back then. I miss those days sometimes. Didn’t we have some fun back then, Rosie?”

Yes dear, it was quite exciting at times.” Her voice lacked some conviction, but John didn’t notice. His gaze was fixed on something in the distance, his mind busy with reminiscences. “Yep, wine and supper at midnight. Lived just like the jet set we did.”

Seems to me we ate late because you did night work. You didn’t want to eat early because then you’d fall asleep in the chair and end up being late for a job. The jet set had nothing to do with it.”

Admit it, Rose. Those years were fun, weren’t they?”

Yes,” sighed Rose, “Some of them were.”

We didn’t have a care in the world. We went through money like water. It didn’t matter how much we spent. I could always get more. I was a good provider, wasn’t I love? We lived high on the hog back then. And I was still able to save enough for us to retire here to Florida and live the good life. I like it here but, still, I sometimes miss the excitement of the old days.”

It wasn’t all fun, John. Those couple of years you spent in jail weren’t much fun.”

I’m sorry about that, Rose. I know it was hard on you. Much harder on you than me. I sort ‘a’ looked on that time as ‘career development.’ Networkin’ you might say. I made some good contacts in the slammer . . . That’s where I met Sticky Malone. Remember Sticky, Rose? I learned a lot from Sticky. Once we got out he accompanied me on that second story job. Couldn’t ‘a’ done it without his expertise.”

The one where you nearly got shot you mean?”

You’re bein’ very negative tonight, Rose. Relax will ya!”

Rose continued to look sour. “I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time when you went to jail. The other kids teased our Billy unmercifully about his old man being locked up. He really suffered, did our Billy.”

Well our Billy ain’t sufferin’ too much now. Not with that fancy-shmancy law degree he ain’t. And he knows his old man’s earnings paid for his education, doesn’t he? I don’t hear him complainin’ none these days.”

Rose finally smiled. “Remember that Police Ball that Jack Hawkins invited us to? You wore a cat burglar outfit and Jack said you, for all the world, resembled the sketches of that guy who’d done those jobs over on Grant Place. The one they’d been trying to catch for two years. We laughed about that for weeks afterwards. Poor Jack. He was a nice guy, and a very dear friend. But his brains were in the basement. Hee hee.”

No, he wasn’t smart. Hear he made Chief of Detectives before he retired. Just shows yer don’t it? Here, Rose, I have something for you.”

Rose’s blue eyes widened in horror as John dangled a pair of sapphire earrings in front of her nose. “These are for you, love. Picked ‘em up yesterday.”

Rose snatched the jewels and buried them hastily in her lap. “John Turner, you promised me! I can’t believe you did this, after all your promises!”

Instead of being perturbed by his wife’s angry outburst, John chuckled gleefully, “Got yer goin’ there Rosie old girl, didn’t I? It’s all right love. Paid for those baubles fair and square I did. Figured you deserved a little extra somethin’ for putting up with me all these years. This ‘old fart’ is definitely retired from business. I just enjoy thinkin’ about the way things used to be sometimes. No need to worry your pretty head about it none. Now, where’s that waitress . . .”

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