The tables at Bertucci’s had appeared swarming with high school kids and college freshmen. The only couple over thirty sat in the middle of the room, donning festive NASCAR top hats around gray heads and looking quite bewildered – a fact partly due to age, partly due to the environment, but mostly due to the hats. The rest of the nubile crowd chatted noisily. A group of high school girls held conference behind us, practicing imperfect similes:
“Sorry guys for being like so late. We like got held up by like a thousand lights on the way.”
The kitchen clattered and steamed with thin-crust pizza, delivered to tables where GameBoys sang with squealing tires and power-ups. Therefore, when Dasad and I later made our way into the TCBY, it felt a little strange to be standing in line with seven or eight gray-haired seniors.
“Are we old?” Dasad asked afterwards.
“No, I just think we picked a very mature ice cream parlor, that’s all,” I said digging into my peanut butter parfait.
“Do you think we’ll be doing the same thing twenty, thirty years from now? Hobbling to the nearby fat free yogurt stand for waffle cones and white chocolate soft serve?”
“. . . and jimmies,” I helpfully add.
“Jimmies, you know, the sprinkles you pour over ice cream.”
“That’s not the right word,” Dasad corrected. “No one calls sprinkles ‘jimmies.’”
“Sure they do. I just did.”
“It sounds like drug slang: ‘Give me a nickel bag of jimmies, man. The good stuff.’ ”
“No, its sprinkles, chocolate or rainbow colored. Jimmies.”
“One day I must learn this dialect you practice so well. Do you think we’ll be spendin’ our Fridays outside a TCBY?” Dasad asked for another attempt at focus. “For that matter, what will we be doing ten twenty years from now?
The question has merit. In the spring of my life, I constructed a bucket list of sorts, a short repository of aims and goals for the future.
- Find true love
- Save a life
- Be a good brother, friend, husband
- Get in shape
- Travel the world
- Win the Pulitzer Prize
- Write a work of fiction that will stand the test of time (perhaps children’s lit)
- Kill a dragon with my bare hands
Alright perhaps not the most reasonable goals (especially that last one), but then your life’s pursuits should never be too modest or probable. It’s the impossibility of it all that makes it worth pursuing in the first place. As of this moment, I have yet to achieve . . . well anything. But although scratching off any item on my list may seem like carving Mount Rushmore with a toothpick, if you never give up, you’re that much closer than those who do.
Despite our accomplishments though, I do not believe people change that much. When she was a girl, my grandmother would travel downtown via street car to the movie theater, watch movies all day for a nickel. Today she spends her free time poised before Turner Classic Movies and field trips to see the latest Oscar nominees. My great-grandfather during Prohibition concocted booze in his bathtub. I recall his lavish parties, where beer and booze would fill the glasses of all guests, regardless of race, creed or legal drinking age.
Dasad and I arrived back home and nestled our aging bodies down in plush armchairs. The TV and the Xbox hummed into life. We see the familiar devastation, silhouetted against a blood red sky, a large rotating cog and a grinning skull where the sun once stood. Horde mode loads.
“I think we’ll probably be doing the same thing we’re doing now.” I pushed a few buttons, trying to remember which trigger button controlled the aim.
I could see ourselves, sitting in the same chairs, obsessed with the latest cooking show, playing the latest video game: virtual reality Tetris or Super Mario Multi-verse perhaps.
Dasad nodded. “Is that sad? Should we feel disappointed by that?”
“Well,” I considered. “We might be married with kids by then. That’d be cool. Plus when your fifty-something, you get to eat as much yogurt as you want, right?”
“Is that why so many old people were at TCBY?”
“Probably, because it’s soft and relatively fat-free, they suck it down,” I say, “Ooo . . . got boomed.”
“On it. Why’s that matter?” Dasad said navigating his character through the debris, where I lay bloody and crawling.
“Because old folk are more health conscious, and many have trouble chewing. You know, dentures and all that.” I wrapped my lips over my teeth and mimed someone gumming their vanilla mocha yogurt.
“So what you’re suggesting,” Dasad laughed, “is that when we’re fifty, we’re going to be sitting in the same chairs . . .”
“. . . well not the same chairs, perhaps something more comfortable and ergonomically satisfying . . .”
“Whatever . . . wasting our Saturday nights playing the same games – or the future equivalent,” he added before I could interrupt. “And all this will be ok, because we’ll be consuming vast amounts of fat free yogurt . . .”
“ . . . with chocolate jimmies . . .”
“Shut up, there’s no such thing . . . and teaching our kids and wives how to kill undead hordes, alien swarms, or subterranean invaders? Is that it?”
“Yes, only our wives are super hot, and my kids are showing your kids our shared manga collections and anime DVDs,” I smile. “Oh, that will be a grand day.”
“My kids,” Dasad frowns, “will never see your kids – unless it is Thursday. Thursdays are the days when my kids make your kids eat grass. We’ll call them green ‘jimmies.’”
“Hmph, try as you might, my kids will train early on, mastering their Tekken, Street Fighter, and Soul Caliber. By the time their twelve, they’ll have mastered all the world’s fighting styles rendered into the virtual world. They’ll be able to shoot fireballs from their hands.” My geekdom knows no bounds.
“That’ll work well until my kids Asian genes kick in . . .”
“Ha, my kids will be exposed to so much manga and anime that they’ll be more Asian than you by the time the next Thursday rolls around.”
The game stalls for a moment or two. Desad walks into an empty room and suddenly finds himself out in the open surrounded by subterranean mutants. Mine is the sole character left. I run him towards the bridge for the final stand when the screen goes red: disconnected from server.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I mutter.
“That there’s not a Hell’s chance we’re ever going to reproduce.”
“It’s probably better for everyone, you know?” I say dropping my controller to the floor.
“Oh well, more yogurt for us, I suppose,” Dasad shrugged.
“And chocolate . . .”