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I don't often eat at one of the much-advertised fast-food restaurants; but not more than a week or so ago, I found myself enticed by one of those better than life commercials. "How could one satisfy his appetite for only one dollar?" I wondered. Well, I just had to put the advertisement to the test, so I drove my Hyundai Sonata the 18 miles to the restaurant.

It wasn't quite lunchtime yet, but the place was starting to fill with workers from nearby businesses who, I'm certain, appreciated the speedy preparation and serving of their meals. I wasn't in any particular hurry, and that seems to be the story of my humdrum existence, so I allowed several to enter the order line before me.

Once at the register, a nice enough looking young lady asked if she could help me.

"Hi, I'd like something from that side of the menu board. You know, over there where things cost one dollar."

"Sure," she said. "What can I get for you?"

I selected two items and, of course, a drink from another side of the menu board and, much to my surprise, the total was, well she said, "That'll be $5.43 please."

Somehow my one-dollar lunch had become a greater than five-dollar meal; that darn sales tax, I reckoned.

I gathered up my purchases and found a nice corner table near a window. I like to peer out of the window as I eat but, after all these years, I don't recall ever seeing anything astonishing. Well, there was that one fender bender back some 20 or so years ago, but it wasn't then or now much to talk about. However, that day several weeks ago, and I can't recall why, I scanned the inside of the restaurant paying particular notice to the people seated at the other tables. Suddenly, I came to the realization and after some mental calculations, that I was most assuredly the oldest person in that eating establishment.

I find that I, more often than not, purposely avoid eating in restaurants. Ill at ease with thoughts that pairs or groups of people find me worthy of some silent pity, as I have no companion, causes an uncomfortable feeling to come over me. I recall feeling that sense of pity years ago as my friend and I enjoyed each other's company while seated in one of our favorite restaurants. My friend often expressed her sympathies for that sad old man or woman eating alone. How terribly lonely they must be!

I finished, although quite a bit more hurriedly than I preferred, my more than one-dollar meal and left the restaurant feeling, all the while, as if the younger clientele were watching every step I took. As I walked to my car, I silently vowed never again to eat alone in any restaurant regardless of the enticing advertisements.

While driving home, I couldn't help but think of all the things I no longer choose to do as a result of my advanced years and the single lifestyle imposed upon me. I here and now freely admit that the list was somewhat longer than I would normally care to acknowledge in public but, after all, I started this discussion, therefore, I must afford to you all the pertinent facts.

With purpose and after careful deliberation, I have concluded that I will avoid all soirees of any type for, you see, I find the unaccompanied attendance at my age to be quite awkward and uncomfortable.

I occasionally find that the release of a new film strikes my fancy. I and my friend regularly visited the local cinema and relaxed as we enjoyed a newly-released movie. I now find the thought of attending the cinema alone distasteful. After all, to whom would I express my displeasure with the cost of the stale concession-stand popcorn?

I recall that, some years ago, my friend and I enjoyed swimming. We laughed and splashed each other with the cool water and reassured ourselves that the exercise would keep us young. Time has a way of setting things straight, and so it has with me. I am no longer young, and the face that was once the target of my splashes has left my life.

I miss my younger days and the carefree attitude of youth. I seem now unable to remember my childhood ways, and that may be the cruelest and deepest cut of all -- my gradually fading memory. The years have stolen my youth and now those accumulating years and decades are pilfering my recollections of better and brighter times.

I suppose that, and for all to see, I am exposing my seemingly unreasonable fears, my paranoia if you will, but each of us has our own fears, our own demons, now don't we?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once remarked, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," but then he didn't dine or swim alone; Eleanor was by his side.

I fear that I will never cease to mournfully lament the untimely passing of my dear wife and save finding myself in a drowning situation. I find no plausible justification which would cause me to ever again swim alone. The once inviting water just doesn't seem as clear and cool as it once did. Hence, I don't swim anymore.

Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel. Stan's connection to Noel can be traced back to his grandparents who lived most of their lives there. Stan began writing after the passing of his wife Robin in 2013. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 05/31/2018

Print Headline: I Don't Swim Anymore

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