Sunday, September 30, 2012

Food and the aging process

Kim and I were in a Winston-Salem restaurant for brunch recently when something caught my eye.

An older woman, perhaps in her sixties and wearing a beautiful white blouse with her jeans, was sitting alone at the counter enjoying her breakfast. Nothing unusual about that — until she reached around the back of her neck and untied a small bow that held her bib in place.

Her what?

"Kim, look at this," I said, because the woman was sitting off to the side behind my wife, who couldn't see what was happening. Kim never got oriented fast enough to see the woman carefully folding her bib and stuffing it into her pocketbook.

Seriously, it was about the size of a lobster bib. The woman was finished with her breakfast and presumably had just saved her blouse from, what, a spillage of cheesy shrimp and grits? Ketchup drowned home fries? Runny Eggs Benedict? A breakfast lobster?

I don't know. I chuckled to myself over this for a moment until I started thinking about all the times I've unwittingly splattered ketchup on myself or somehow slobbered coffee onto my prized Gettysburg T-shirts.

I am getting older and sometimes the food I try to eat occasionally (and mysteriously) wrestles me to the ground. I mean, how can I possibly miss my mouth? And yet, I have the stains to prove I not only missed my mouth, but just about everything close to it. The more I wondered about this woman having no fear of wearing a bib in a public restaurant, the more I started to admire her for her ... her ... her wisdom.

"Maybe," said Kim, "we ought to invent bibs for older adults. You know, with a pocket or trough on the bottom to catch the food so it doesn't fall on the floor and you can still eat it. That way, you don't waste anything that costs a lot of money. We could be millionaires."

"Yeah," I said, catching on. "We could call them 'Elder Aprons' or 'Senior Savers' and put little slogans on them, like 'I stop for slop' or, 'I've got it, I've got it' like baseball players. Or 'You can't mess with me.'"

It was about this time that it struck me that the aging process is cyclical. We wear bibs when we're infants, then go through adulthood so full of ourselves by trading in our bibs for napkins (if we use anything at all), and then back to bibs down the homestretch because by our golden years we shake, rattle, roll, can't see and can't hear.

Sometimes I wonder if, in fact, I really need to wear some kind of jumpsuit when I eat.

I'm sure it's only going to get worse. I guess it's only a matter of time before I start wearing Depends with my bibs.

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