When I was little, my Granddad used to take me to the donut shop sometimes. I was told it was because I was very good, but I now suspect it had a lot to do with scheduling. He used to sit in the back of Daylight Donuts in the Russellville City Mall with his buddies. They would chain smoke, drink coffee with heavy cream and tell tall tales. If I went, I got a cake donut with strawberry icing, chocolate milk in a paper carton and to stand in the booth next to Granddad and perform. I would tell stories or sing or whatever the old guys found entertaining. This is where I believe I came to understand the value of a good story, well told.
Today my Granddad is very old. His body has been giving up on him for some time and now his mind is taking its leave as well. The decades of chain smoking have taken their toll, so we get to watch as the proud man shrinks into nothingness. Most of the other old men are already dead. A few years ago on a day he was feeling pretty good, Granddad went down to see if any of the old crew was still there. Their spot had been taken over by WOMEN! He was horrified. Then Daylight Donuts closed. That space is now a Quizno’s or something. It’s the way things go. But it’s a little sad.
This is why I like my old men so much. A few months ago, I began stopping in at a local Starbucks in the mornings. There is a group of old men who collect themselves daily and tell lies. No one smokes anymore. They all worry too much about their cholesterol to eat donuts. So they drink their coffee with fat free milk and tell their tall tales. Over time, I got invited to join them. It’s like home.
I don’t sing. But I get to argue with them about politics. I get to tell them stories. Some days I even take Monkey Boy with me. They buy him chocolate milk. He stands in the chair next to me and shows them his cars and does football referee signs to make them laugh. “Illegal man downfield” is always a big hit.
I’ve been busy lately and haven’t been by much, so I’m missing them. I think I’ll go by in the morning. Check and see how they’re doing. I can always use the coffee.