Cutting the mustard | Mark’s Remarks

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I might have written about an outing some of our friends went on a few years ago. We have been chumming around since our twenties, which is quite a blessing. 

It is true that you hang on to certain friends and think of them as family as you grow older.  

Our social outings get more and more interesting as we grow older. In our twenties, and even into our thirties, we could stay up late, go out to night spots, and still hop up in the morning and feel pretty OK.

As we all became parents and got really serious about all this “adulting” stuff, it was harder for us to hoot with the owls at night and soar with the eagles in the morning. More than one couple admitted to watching the last house guests leave the sidewalk and step into their respective cars before we quickly shut off the porch light and sprinted for the bed. 

Many of us would fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

The outing I think I wrote about was a milestone birthday outing for one of the younger people in our group. We traveled to a nice place for dinner, sitting outside on a nice fall evening, and later headed to a spot where live music was to be played.  The band played, sang and performed hits from our teenage years, which are now being played on the “oldies” station.

After that fantastic dinner, we most likely started feeling younger than our middle-aged selves and danced around, hooted and hollered and had a pretty great time.

After a couple of hours, it was funny to observe certain behaviors. Some of us were too stubborn to admit that we were feeling the flame of youth flicker out.  Some of us glanced at our watches and gave one another the side eye to see who would give in first.  

Eventually, and with relief, we all decided we’d stayed out late and long enough and collectively headed for the parking lot.  More than one person admitted to be relieved to be out of earshot of the loud music.

The next day, we realized our eardrums were still smarting a bit. I was listening to the radio and later watching a television show.  Both times, I thought people were whistling. It turned out my eardrums were still convalescing from the previous night.

Recently, we went on another outing. This time, it was to an “adult egg hunt.”  We all paid for tickets and headed to a local park with flashlights in tow. 

At the word “go,” we were supposed to canvas the park and look for plastic eggs that had numbers on them. If we were lucky enough to find golden eggs, the prize would be more substantial than the regular multi-colored eggs.

Off we went. We hooted and hollered for a while, much as we’d done at the nightspot listening to the band. Some of us ran around a bit, trying to entertain one another. 

We laughed until our sides split. We kept yelling “Did you find any yet?” We acted as though we were trying to compete for the most eggs. We sang along to the songs being blasted from the speakers at egg hunt headquarters.

But as you may have guessed, we started to realize that walking miles in a darkened park, surrounded by hill and dale, could do a number on middle-aged feet. Furthermore, looking for things in the dark with only a flashlight to illuminate things got old pretty quickly.  

I whispered to my wife that my back was hurting, and I complained that I wished I’d used more insect repellent. All the while, I worried about keeping my wife and our friends close so that we “wouldn’t get separated.” I’m surprised I didn’t utter my grandmother’s favorite catchphrase, which was “Hang on to your billfolds.”

Our most adventurous and competitive friend, the same friend whose birthday we had celebrated a few years back, ventured off away from the group looking for the golden egg.  Finding the way back to the group wasn’t easy, and we later heard tales of ripped blue jeans, scraped knees, a tumble down a hill, and the loss of prescription lenses. 

When we heard of our friend’s fall and saw the blood, we all winced and wondered how a hip wasn’t broken.

We ended up finding our quota of eggs, which were not hard to find once you find out where the mother lode had been broadcast.  Out of the many eggs we collected, only a few of us were able to find a winning number, and we eagerly walked up to the prize table to exchange our numbered egg for some loot.

Wearily, we walked back to our cars. Our prize packages included mostly condiments and snack food.  The biggest winners of the evening went home with a large gallon container of cheese balls and pretzels.  The rest of us were awarded with large bottles of mustard, catsup, barbecue sauce and pickles.  

One dejected member of the group won a travel sized bottle of Armor-All after finding one winning number among his eggs, as well as his wife’s eggs.

Speaking of mustard, do you remember that song “Too Old to Cut the Mustard Anymore?”

No one would admit it, but we were glad to get in our cars after a long, long evening of trekking miles and miles over rough terrain which damaged our failing eyesight, made our old bones ache, and caused pain that a chiropractor would need to undo.

And did I mention that it was barely 10 o’clock as we drove away?

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