Avanti Senior Living was sponsoring a film, “Cyber Seniors,” about elderly people conquering their fear of technology at our local film festival, The Inspire Film Festival. Lillian had won two tickets at bingo last week to attend. She chose me to go with her, because although I had mastered the Avanti Samsung Tablet I have been hesitant to join Facebook. Lillian spends a lot of time on Facebook watching and sharing funny animal videos with her family. I love animals, don’t get me wrong. It’s just the management aspect of Facebook that turns me off. It just seems like such a hassle having to like and not like and manage photos and friends and deal with everyone’s “walls”. Lillian thought maybe this film might get me over my Facebook hesitancy hump and join the rest of the world. Truth be told, I have no plans to join Facebook, but I was excited to see the film and be together with Lillian. So I agreed to go.
We had great seats. In the middle and on the aisle. We were both wearing our comfortable terry-cloth jogging suits. I wore a green one in honor of the upcoming spring season and Lillian wore her powder blue one – to match her pretty blue eyes. Nurse Sarah sat beside us and was our official chaperone.
I looked around and felt like maybe we were in the wrong theater. I felt this way as there were so many men, elderly men in the room. Lots of Veteran’s hats, U.S.A. flag lapel pins and military logos on sweatshirts and t-shirts. Lots of “silver foxes” as we called them. I jabbed Lillian to check out a particularly handsome man wearing a t-shirt that read “Not Dead Yet” and a baseball cap with the words “NAVY” on it who was coming up the stairs and into our aisle.
“Wha?”, Lillian woke for a brief moment then drifted back to sleep.
Nurse Sarah explained that Lillian had decided to watch a “Golden Girls” marathon on TV last night and was now paying the price.
“Is the seat taken?” Not Dead Yet inquired.
“It is now,” I smiled as I pushed the seat bottom down indicating he should sit beside me.
“Thank you,” the man said as he wiggled into the chair to get comfortable.
Quickly, he and I exchanged smiles, but held each other’s gaze just a moment too long so both of us looked away. We were embarrassed.
“Dang Gummit, I forgot to get candy! What candy can I get you, my dear?” he said.
“Red Hots,” I said even though I didn’t like Red Hots.
“Oh, ho, ho!” he raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “Red Hots it is.”
He disappeared down the stairs as the movie started. Nurse Sarah glanced over at me.
“Do you know him?” she asked.
“Gosh, I feel like I do. Does my hair look OK?” I asked.
Nurse Sarah gave me the stink eye which meant “behave” and then the lights dimmed. The film started, but I could not focus on a word anyone was saying as my head was swirling—a flutter with thoughts about my appearance and what witty things I might say when “my date” returned (he’s buying me candy so in my book we are now officially on a date!).
Not Dead Yet came back with a flat carry tray full of candies: Red Hots, Junior Mints and a bag of M&Ms.
“I’d make a self-deprecating diabetic joke, but the film has started, and I don’t want to be rude,” he said.
“What film?” I flirted looking into his big brown beautiful eyes.
He laughed and handed me a box of Red Hots.
“Thank you,” I said.
“My pleasure,” he said.
Nurse Sarah snatched the candy box from my hand and smiled.
“Maybe later,” she said as she placed the Red Hots box upright in Lillian’s sleeping hands. It was an odd, funny sight to see a sleeping woman holding candy in her hands in her lap. (Think Weekend at Bernie’s).
“I get it. No candy from strangers. You got a good friend there. We should all be so lucky,” said Not Dead Yet, who waved to Nurse Sarah, who then waved back to him in appreciation of his understanding.
“My apologies…” I began to say.
But…Not Dead Yet interrupted my words by putting his finger to my lips.
“Shh! We can still have fun,” he smiled.
I was dumbfounded. A man, whom I barely knew, just shushed me with his fingers to my lips and…. I liked it. I felt like I was under a spell.
Not Dead Yet then proceeded to open the bag of M&Ms and place the tiny circular chocolates on the tray in front of him. Immediately, he began sorting them by color. He put the red ones on one side of the tray and then the green ones on the other side of the tray. Then he put the other colors back in the bag. Then he took out the Junior Mints box, opened it and made a Tic Tac Toe Grid in the center of the tray out of these larger minty candies.
“Ladies first,” he whispered.
I looked over at Nurse Sarah who was watching the film. Then turned back and slid a red M&M into the right corner of the grid pressing against his strong arm. Not in a million years did I ever think a game of Tic Tac Toe could excite me, but here I was.
He seemed impressed with my first move. Then, he pondered his move assuming the pose of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. After a few beats, he slowly slid a green M&M from the side and into the area underneath mine.
“I like to be on top,” I whispered. I couldn’t believe the clever, lascivious things coming out of my mouth.
“Oh, it’s crystal clear you know what you like…” he whispered.
The film flickered in front of us, but we paid it no attention. We were lost in our own world.
Before I could make my next red M&M move, acknowledge his “NAVY” hat and thank him for his service to our country, a young man hustled up the steps and into our aisle and removed the tray (the candy accidentally spilled everywhere) from Not Dead Yet’s lap and lifted my date up by the armpits.
“Grandpa, we’ve been looking for you everywhere! You know you can’t have candy!” he blurted exasperatedly. Not Dead Yet and his grandson hugged each other tight.
Nurse Sarah glanced at me concerned and grabbed my hand.
I struggled with my walker to stand up and follow Not Dead Yet out, but the grandson had him almost down the staircase by the time I could rally.
“Jerry Stover, I’m on Facebook! Find me!” my candy lover yelled back to me.
Everyone in the theater shushed him and me! I sank down in my chair to hide. And would you believe right then, right there in the film Madonna’s song “Beautiful Stranger” started playing as Jerry was ushered out. I took this a sign Jerry and I were going to be together forever.
“Lillian, wake up! I WANT TO JOIN FACEBOOK! I NEED TO JOIN FACEBOOK”, I shook her shoulder.
“Wha?” she said and then drifted back to sleep. I considered trying to wake Lillian again, but Nurse Sarah’s stink eye came upon me again. So I sat still, very still in the warm glow of the film projector’s replaying everything Jerry and I had done together on our first date.