106. Old Dog, New Trick

Old Dog New Trick: Two things I know about me. One – I really like talking to old men. Two – Young men think I’m old. What does this have to do with the price of crisps? Not much, but when I was traveling without Sloan in Ireland, these things became more and more important. Mostly because I spent a lot of my alone time in pubs. And if I sat at the bar or got there early enough, it was always older men that I hung out with. They would happily spend a few minutes or hours chatting away about anything and everything. I loved having a surrogate grandpa for a pint or two and they loved the company of a young woman genuinely laughing at all their jokes.

The self-described “cheeky chap” in the photo above is named George and he and I sat and had a pint together in Belfast one sunny afternoon. He was born and raised in Belfast, married a Welsh girl, moved to London and together they raised 5 children, saw 8 grandchildren born, then they divorced and he’s now back in Belfast at 82 years old. He had to leave me to meet up with a 43 year-old woman that he called his “new friend” and proudly boasted about how jealous her husband gets at all the lunch breaks she spends with George. Fascinating man. I also met Thomas (pronounced toe-mas), a handsome late 50-something who was decked out in denim from head to toe, cowboy boots and matching belt, highly manicured snow-white buzz-cut and handlebar mustache. Thomas loves the music scene in his home of County Cork, which with his thick native accent sounded more like Conty Cark to me. We talked about the connections between traditional and modern day American and Irish country and folk music. How through emigration and modern technology the two nations musicians have been influencing each other for more than a century. It turns out American country music is really big in Ireland but Thomas was clear to let me know that it’s not that “I hate my wife and lost my job” kind of country music. Then there was Aidan from Dublin, a 60-something who told me he thinks the Irish were waiting all along for the Americans to step in and solve the Irish problem. He believed if JFK hadn’t been killed he would have ended the troubles between north and south. He said he believed this was a fairly common but unspoken truth.

These brilliant little encounters were punctuated with less interesting times spent getting hit on and chatted up by 19-24 year olds. I was not interested in any romance and I knew far too well by now that these young guys wouldn’t be nearly as fun to talk to for at least another 20 years. I had to pass the time somehow so I decided to update an old trick of mine. I was either getting good conversation or a free beer from these guys and either way I needed to make them move on as quickly as possible. First I thought all I had to do was strategically drop the Boyfriend Bomb preferably when I was a quarter through the pint they just bought me or when the conversation moved to dull city. What I found though is that 19-24 year old guys are more horny than ethical and as soon as I mentioned the boyfriend they would briefly pause, ask where he was, I’d say India and they would be right back on their game. Boyfriend smoyfriend, they thought. She’s still here alone. Then I realized I had an even better tool in my belt, the Age Bomb. I would say, “So, how old do you think I am?” They would laugh and say, “Well, now that you mention it, I did think you were a little bit older than me.” “Really, well, how old do you think I am?” “I was thinking maybe you were umm, gulp, 25.” I would then lay it on super thick like I was an 80 year old who was just told she doesn’t look a day over 60. “Oh my gawd, you just made my day. I can’t believe it. You think I look TWENTY-FIVE. You are soo sweet.” On cue, their faces would fall to the floor. With sincere trepidation they’d ask me, “Well, how OLD are you?”

Before I could even get the 1 out after the 30 they were off and running. It was fantastic. Now I just had to bide my time until another interesting older Irish man came though the door.


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