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Hello In There

The other day, I was feeling a little deflated that the London Smile Clinic wants about £8,000 to gussy up my grin. And that’s just the top teeth. I want to replace a bonding gone bad and fill up the hole that I got a few months ago. So why not go to the most expensive cosmetic dentist in the city and see what they have to say? For the price of a used car, I could have a better smile. I’m going to pass on this one.

Even people with average smiles need to eat, and it was an amazing spring day (so much for all that rain) so I sat myself down for some lunch at a sidewalk café. An elderly woman came over and sat at my table. I’d seen her about 15 minutes before, walking out of the restaurant. She’d reminded me of Larry’s Grandma Rose. Same old woman features. There was nothing fine about those lines and creases, and her cheeks and neck were freckled with age spots. And she wore them as proudly as she did her matching gold necklace and bracelet. She had a full head of thinning white hair, no doubt styled through a night of curlers and toilet paper.

She didn’t say a word. Not that she was obligated, but usually someone will say “may I join you?” or “would you mind?” I had no objection, I’d finished my lunch and was just reading. If she didn’t mind the remnants of my soup and salad on a tray, who was I to care?

She pulled a bottle of water out of her bag, opened it up and had a swig. She fluffed the back of her hair with her left hand, making sure the curls were holding and giving them a little lift. I wondered if octogenarians set up blind dates on the Internet. “Saw ur profile. Ur hot in a Barbara Bush kinda way. Meet me at the EAT on Regent Street.”

I acknowledged her with a half-smile and a nod (which may well have been interpreted as a palsied twitch) and went back to Augusten’s potential assassination of turd-taking opossum.

I looked up at her again, and wondered if I shouldn’t offer her a coffee. I’ve been all about synchronicity lately, and maybe I’m meant to know this old woman. Surely there’s a story in there somewhere, and I was ready for a post-luncheon coffee to get me on my way. The only thing I miss about working right now is talking to people in the course of the day. But then again, I don’t want to become one of those mid-westerners who feels compelled to have a conversation with every stranger they meet.

I shrugged off the impulse and went back to reading.

She pulled a letter out from her bag. I made out the letterhead of a local bank. I tried to nonchalantly catch a further look. Had her dead husband’s trust cleared probate? Was she being foreclosed on? Why did she need to read that letter while sitting next to me? Oh Bob, mind your own business and go back to your book. I finished the essay (the opossum lives) and saw the title of the next story … “Cunnilingusville.”

Maybe that’s where my silent lunch date was hoping to go when her dated from www.seniorsexnow.co.uk (omg, that’s a real link … who knew?) showed up.

And with that, it was time to go. I ended up in Regent’s Park, which was picture perfect.

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If I have any regret about that day at all, it wouldn’t be that I don’t have $15,000 for a new winning smile. It would be I didn’t say hi to the charming old lady who sat down next to me. I really hope she got laid.