Old dogs sometimes can’t learn new tricks

The two men arrived in the middle of the rush, which didn’t mean much me, but it seemed to matter a lot to them.

“You guys are busy,” said the younger of the two, pointing out the obvious.

And when I say younger, I mean a lot younger — like father and son. Only I got the sense that they weren’t actually father and son. Maybe it was the matching trucker hats with a company logo on them or maybe it was the matching jackets. My best guess was co-workers.

“Don’t you have any extra stools in the back?” asked the older man.

Gee, why didn’t we think of that? I definitely thought, but certainly did not say. Sarcasm is rarely a good look in the service business. Instead, I just shrugged my shoulders. People want what they want and rarely want to hear an explanation.

The consensus around here seems to be that dinner hour is 7:45 to 8:45 p.m., which stands in stark contrast to happy hour, which can range anywhere from 4 to 8 p.m. I don’t know how these decisions are reached, but they are. So, I suggest that if you are going out to eat — without reservations — that you adjust your arrival time just a little. Because as little as 15 minutes either way and you might alleviate yourself of a possible 45-minute wait. But it’s your time, you do what you want with it.

Thirty-five minutes later, two seats finally opened up, and the two men sat, both putting their company-branded jackets on their bar stools before they sat. Their branded truckers hats stayed on their heads.

“You kids have to be on your phones 24/7,” said the older man, watching the younger man text on his phone.

“I am just letting my wife know that it took longer to get a seat than we thought,” responded the younger man.

“She’s got you pretty well tied up,” chuckled the older man.

“I am not ‘tied up,’ I am just being respectful,” replied the younger man as he texted.

“Call it what you want, kid. I know when someone is ‘whipped’ when I see it.”

“It’s called mutual respect,” replied the younger man, holding his ground.


Manhattans were ordered, then made, then nursed. Whiskeys had been discussed, disagreed with and then decided upon. The older man had suggested high-proof bourbon, which the younger man rejected.

“What’s the matter with you? Are you some kind of lightweight?” asked the older man.

“I just don’t think 3 ounces of 120-proof booze in a mixed drink is a good idea,” responded the younger man.

The older man shook his head.

But the “kid” was right. Three ounces of 120-proof liquor is equivalent to a double drink in volume, and more like a triple in alcohol content. And since alcohol is absorbed directly through the stomach, and not through the intestines, the “purer” it is, the faster it’s absorbed. Meaning that not only is it more, but it is delivered more quickly, too.

“Let’s have another one,” said the older man before the first one was even half-finished.

“We both have to work tomorrow,” said the younger man. “And my wife doesn’t want me showing up late in an Uber on a weeknight.”

“It’s obvious who wears the pants in your house,” said the older man.

“Again, it’s about respect,” said the younger man. “I wouldn’t do something that I wouldn’t be OK with her doing too.”

“Bah,” said the older man. “You got to let her know who’s boss.”

“It’s a partnership,” said the younger man.

“That’s what my first wife used to say,” replied the older man.


“We got divorced.”

“How many times have you been married?”


Three seemed to be the magic number. It was the number of his dissolved marriages and it was also the number of Manhattans that he was not going to reach. There is a saying about martinis, one is not enough and three is too many. And if it’s true of martinis at 80 proof, it’s really true of Manhattans at 100.

Eventually, the younger man left, leaving the older man by himself.

An hour later, he was still sitting there.

“It’s that time,” I said indicating closing time.

“Already?” replied the older man.


“That kid will never learn,” said the older man unbidden as he shuffled out the door to his ride share. “Nobody tells me what to do.”

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• True learning is not making the same mistake over and over again.

• “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with,” once wrote Mark Twain, unironically about marriage.

• Never take criticism from somebody you wouldn’t go to for advice.

• “And when nobody wakes you up in the morning, and when nobody waits for you at night, and when you can do whatever you want, what do you call it, freedom or loneliness?” once wrote author Charles Bukowski, who was married twice, the second time until his death.