Sidewards glances shoot from all over the all you can eat buffet and the boys could care less. A dozen old buddies with a dozen conversations, each over the other, and none of them is offended by the constant interruptions, interjections, and intercessions. A storm of syllables and laughter rushes in all directions from their tables and the other patrons try to be as far away as possible. Not that even one of the boys notices.
They are too busy catching up and carrying on. Pictures of children and grandchildren get passed around, as do stories of promotions, vacations, celebrations, and the one amputation. Lenny gives the others a hard time, pretending to be hurt about the guys not holding the door for “One Leg Lenny” and then laughs his ass off when Jack fumbles over himself apologizing. They have known each other since they were kids, and have lived through half a dozen wars and even more Presidents.
The world is changing around them but they still allow themselves this once a year ritual. Which is why they do not concern themselves with the disapproval of the young folk around them. Nothing will put a damper on their mood, even as they take a moment to console Clark on his Gina’s passing. Life is too long to not enjoy it to its fullest. It is only a few seconds of relative quiet and then back to their fun.
Back to recalling stories, even if they do not recall them the same. Lenny remembers serenading Jim’s little sister, though Jim insists he thought a cat was dying in the alley that night. There is feigned indignation followed by raucous laughter, and an endless barrage of flirting with the hostess. Some of the boys make remarks the others do not like, but they accept, after fifty plus years, that the best of friends do not see things the same way.
After hours of conversation, and plates piling in front of them, the boys slowly get up. Gianni throws a wink in the direction of the hostess giving Jim a chance to remind him that she is probably younger than his great grand-daughter. Another year has passed and while no one says it, they all hope they are all here next year, withougt letting that dampen being here now.
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