It was a handwritten note taped to the window that read "Grand Reopening."
Now to the best of my knowledge, this place has not been sold, did not close down for renovations, or changed its menu. The only thing different about the place is the sign.
I'm guess I'm showing my age here, but I can remember when a restaurant used to have one grand opening and that was it. I figured a grand opening was like virginity, once you lose it, you really do lose it. Apparently, I was wrong.
I could quibble about the word choice, but I like the idea of taking something you can only do once and doing it again. Hell, every day for a restaurant is a grand opening if you really wanted to stretch the point.
I think I'll look at my life in the same way. Every day will be a grand opening and I'll keep it going until I get it right.
So far, I'm off to a good start. Here I am, just a few days into AARP country, and I actually got proofed tonight at a local watering hole.
Can you believe that? I hit the half-century mark and someone actually wants to check and see if I'm legally entitled to have a drink. That's a real birthday present.
I had spent the evening at a jazz club in Park Slope, a tiny place on Fifth Avenue where the leader of the quartet was a very versatile fellow who played two trumpets at the same time. I have trouble getting a decent tune out of a kazoo.
I stayed for one set then decided to check out this new bar in Bay Ridge on 74th Street.
The place just opened and it's done up in an Alpine ski lodge motif, which is perfect given that it's in Brooklyn and it's been unseasonably warm during this Memorial Day weekend. Naturally everybody's mind is on skiing.
I wonder if the place is intended to be a kind of museum for people born after global warming. Yes, children, it once got cold on Earth, and this is how people used to have to fun...
The place was packed with mostly young people--the young own the night on the weekends--but I went in when I saw a few women in my age bracket at the bar.
I was just thinking that the bar was a pretty cool place when I heard someone shouting, loudly and rather rudely, I might add, "hey! hey!"
It was the bouncer, a hulking, tattooed, steriod-pumped young man who had abandoned his position at the front door to play Joker Poker. I couldn't believe he was serious, but one look into his intellect-free eyeballs told me that he was not kidding.
A guy at my gym said my friends were pulling a practical joke on me and had gotten the bouncer to proof me, but this was a last-minute decision, so that can't be it. This guy really wanted to check my ID.
I dug out my driver's license and handed it to him. I was hoping he might actually do the math and realize that I had just hit a birthday milestone a few days before, maybe buy me a drink...hint, hint. I even put out my arms and cocked my head, silently asking, hey, how about that?
Nothing. He just nodded, handed back my license and returned to Joker Poker. I think he was just automatically checking anyone who walked through the door and clearly he had been hired for his bulk rather than his brain.
I received several gift certificates for my birthday and I treated myself to a book entitled "Fifty Things to Do When You Turn Fifty." The book covers such vital topics as health, finance, and fashion and hopefully I'll read it before I turn sixty.
My cousin in Minnesota gave me some great advice about turning 50: don't do it. Unfortunately, his e-mail arrived a few days too late, but I'll keep it mind.
I've been telling people my age because my fragile ego needs to hear people say that I look much younger. I was working out with Wilton, one of the boxing instructors at the New York Sports Club, the other night and it was pretty brutal, especially for a man my age.
When you work with Wilton on the focus mitts, it's more like an assault than a workout. He hits you coming and going, sometimes when he's not even looking. This week he threw some kicks into the mix, prompting me to ask if this was a gym class or the UFC.
When class was over, I told Wilton my age and he joined the legion of the surprised.
"Good for you," he said. "You're halfway there."
"From your mouth to God's ear," I said.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "And I'm still going to be beating you up."
I had a quick image of Wilton chasing me around the nursing home, whacking me with the focus mitts, while I tried to roll away from him in my wheelchair. I decided to hit the showers.
I'll tell you who is almost all the way there: a convicted mobster by the name of Albert "The Old Man" Facchiano, who was just sentenced to six months in prison on federal racketeering charges.
I'm not sure, but I suspect the nickname is somehow related to the fact that Mr. Facchiano is 97 years old--yes, that's right, the guy is three years short of being a century old and he's still breaking the law.
The Old Man got his start in the days of Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel, which sounds like a mafia version of "Jurassic Park." In addition to the jail time, Facchiano must serve 18 months probation, which sounds rather optimistic, if you ask me.
What did this guy do? Shake down little old ladies for the Social Security checks? At his age, it doesn't sound like he'd be much of a threat, but the old timers can fool you. And I think it's great that a senior citizen is staying active, rather than sitting at home and watching TV.
Good for you, Al. See you when you get out--just in time for your grand reopening.