Me and The Elderly at the Farmers Market

October 2006

A little while ago I caught a movie with a friend at the Grove. He hates “The West Side” even though the Grove is really just right there in the middle. He was freaked out at the swarms of people there and how everyone stood mesmerized by the whirling streams of water in the fountain that “danced” to Harry Connick, Jr. I admit. A ‘night out’ at the Grove, is a little lame. You might as well go to an Italian Restaurant rather than an Americanized Italian-esque restaurant at the Grove, you might as well find a little French Bistro with cobblestone rather than eat at the imitation one at the Grove.

BUT, the Farmer’s Market which is the Epcot to the Grove’s Disneyworld is my new favorite place. Which is insane since it’s not new and it’s not old. It was there for a long time, even back in the 1950’s! (That’s old for L.A.) but it too has been redone here and there.

But I go there, by myself, every morning as early as I can. I want to go at 7 a.m. but I haven’t done that yet. I go more around 8:30 a.m. I like how it’s still sort of foggy and misty out and you can wear a sweatshirt or scarf and pretend I’m further North or further East. I go to this coffee and doughnut shop. I try not to eat doughnuts but I had to eat a Halloween doughnut last week. I love the cups that don’t have insulting protective things around the sides. I love the smell of coffee and doughnuts wafting through the air.

It smells like a church basement, once a month on Community Sunday where you go downstairs and either meet Santa, or put your name in a raffle or if you’re me, stand off to the side, stealing sips of coffee out of your mom’s cup when she’s not looking and eating 2 Boston Creme Doughnuts.

I always knew that it wasn’t really Santa in that basement. Why would he pick our crappy church to go to? Besides, none of us were poor. That isn’t very Santa to visit a middle class church and take kids money so they could pose with him. I knew that the real Santa stayed in his workshop and never came out, except on Christmas. He’s not a puppet. He’s a human being.

Anyway, coffee and doughnuts was always so comforting to me. You could tell me that the Big One is coming or a nuke and if you somehow infused the scent of coffee and doughnuts in my nose, I think I’d make it through okay. Coffee and doughnuts in the church basement, really helped my childhood fear of God. “Well, he can’t be that mean if he lets this go on in his house!”

One time my mom and I were passing by the windows of the church basement one night and the lights were on. I could smell coffee and I swear a hint of doughnut. I asked my mom if we could go downstairs. She said, “No. Alcoholics are down there. They get together and talk. But they are anonymous so we can’t look at them.”

Wow. A little family of misfits working it out over coffee and doughnuts. I joined one of those 12 Step Groups later in life and leave it to me to be in the one that can’t get it’s shit together enough to have food.

Anyway so I’m at the Farmer’s Market the other morning and there is a Dixieland Band Playing. At least 25 of these people, playing things like washboards and other things. And the elderly people are sitting at tables not even arms length from this loud band. And they are not reacting in the least. Their hearing must just be that gone. I loved it. I loved the farty sounds of the horns and how I felt like I was in a scene from Cabaret and the juxtaposition of the “fun” music and the old people staring off, chatting slowly with their friends, sipping hot coffee really carefully not noticing the music. So I was hooked.

I knew when I quit my job that I’d find a weird ritual that continually makes me happy. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Spending time somewhere where no one else is and thinking, “I’m not at that desk right now” is really enough to make me tear up.

I go to the Market almost every day and see my future friends, the elderly. Usually women, because they’re outliving the men. They sit around, in their sparkly sweatshirts and their lipstick is smeared and they are having coffee and a doughnut because why watch your weight at this point. The other day I went down in my pink and red Puma tracksuit and saw an old woman in a similar colored, velour number and she had her walker and was hobbling towards the coffee counter. Her hyper active daughter, was shouting “Mom! Mom! Look! We can get breakfast food over here or look Mom! The wine and cheese shop is open, or there is….”

And the Purple Velour woman turned around and said, “I. Just. Want. My. Coffee. And. I. Want. To. Relax.”

Amen.

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