Lord knows, there's a lot of irritation in this world. At any given time, just by walking out your front door, one can encounter a thousand reasons to lose complete faith in humanity. So it's of great comfort to have occasion to find some sanity in one's life, simply by walking into an old friend's house.
"Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read...." Francis Bacon.
A grin and a wink accompanies "whatchu' drinking?" Grinning and winking, you see, because they know very well what I'm drinking and they've gone to the trouble to have a full bottle of it sitting there on their bar. Hugs and handshakes are exchanged, coats are put away and a fire in the fireplace and a house decorated impeccably for the holidays becomes quite the shelter from the crapstorm that rains on us most everywhere else. That same "everywhere else" on planet earth where we monitor manners and political correctness and our behavior in general. Here folks relish in your stupidity and laugh it off because they already know you're an idiot..and the love that side of you.
"It's one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." (Ralph Waldo Emerson.)To sit over a dinner that would make any chef on television blush with envy yet realize that - because you're sitting there with people you love so dearly - you could be having "warm beer and bread" and the evening would still be as grand as some champagne and roses moment from an old Glen Miller song. They're the rare moments when one can sit and not be concerned with a receding hairline, an expanding waistline or crow's feet. That's because when an old friend looks across a table at you they're not seeing the toll that the passing of time is exacting on the outside of the package. They're just seeing the soul that used to sport a really bitchin' mullet and yell fairly inappropriate things at other cars on the way to a Buffett concert. Or the one that called you at some really strange hours and asked if you could provide taxi service. The one that yelled "Free Bird!!!!!!" at a very artsy, outdoor picnic/concert thing - and no one was horrified because, well, it was fully expected! The one with whom you cried when a parent was lost. Or the one person not related to you by blood but that you really needed to talk to when it felt like the world was ending. These are all straight-out gifts from God. No longer are you afraid of the fact that we're all getting older. You see, we're not becoming "old people." We're not becoming our parents. We're still "US." And although our modes of transportation have changed (and need more frequent tune-ups!) we're still just trying to enjoy the ride, however long it may last.
I've said an awful lot to say this - thanks for dinner and thanks for being y'all.