Monday, August 04, 2003

The Stranger

There wasn't any reason to look at him closely, so I didn't. What I could make out -- smallish guy, a little paunchy, balding, fleshy of face -- was completely unremarkable. I was more interested in the lovely young girl sitting across from him in the back corner of the hip Boston restaurant where we were dining on our recent vacation. Flowing dark hair, deep dark eyes, and a stylish black tank top. Very attractive -- and surely not with this old guy. As in, you know, with him.

"Hey," I said to Mrs. Shallow Center, "father-daughter dinner behind you." It could be nothing else. The missus, meantime, was eyeballing the groping young couple seated behind me. We gave each other updates as dinner progressed. At one point, I excused myself to use the men's room, and when I walked in and stepped to the urinal I found myself standing next to Mr. Old Guy himself. Still no direct view -- it was a men's room, after all, and there are certain unbreakable rules governing behavior in men's rooms the world over.

I did my thing, washed up, returned to the table; he did, too. Dinner continued. And then a movement caught my eye -- a graceful gesture that put the lie to any notion of a plain old dad treating his Harvard-attending daughter to dinner. Gracefully the lovely young thing unfurled her arm and extended her hand across the table, whereupon he grasped it and planted a kiss on it.

This ain't no father-daughter dinner, I informed the missus. She raised her eyebrows.

As we finished up dinner with dessert and coffee, I noticed activity. They were preparing to leave. As he stood from the table, he knocked a glass over, and the noise gave the missus and me the perfect excuse to steal a closer glance.

At the same time we realized the identity of the apparent sugar daddy seated behind my wife.

Squiring a woman who certainly appeared young enough to be his daughter was Mr. Billy Joel.

The Piano Man. A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. And the guy who single-handedly tore me out of the dark ages of my folks' oldies records and wooshed me into the world of contemporary music. (Granted, I've left Billy behind as my tastes have matured and grown more complex, but still. The dude, like, influenced me, man.)

In the flesh, at the table next to ours, with his young hot girlfriend. Standing next to me, as intimately as two heterosexual men can, in the freakin' men's room, for chrissake.

Still rock and roll to me, indeed.


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