“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over
And let the Beautiful Stuff out.” -- Ray Bradbury

I walked into the Octopus Lounge not long ago and there, at the door was a very young man carding everyone before he stamped their hands and allowed them into the inner sanctum. I paused in front of him and I smiled. So did he.

I waited for him to ask me for my Driver’s License. I smiled again. He stamped my hand. “Don’t you want to see my ID?” I asked.

He laughed and motioned me through the door. I didn’t move. “I thought you HAD to check everyone’s identification before they can enter a bar,” I said. “Isn’t that the law?”

“OK,” he said. “Show me your driver’s license.”

I handed it to him but he didn’t even glance at it. “Good picture, isn’t it?” I said.

He nodded and I entered the bar, but I was really puzzled. I KNEW he hadn’t really read my birth date because the print was very small and you had to squint to see it: OCT. 11, 1933. How on earth did he know I was over 21? I didn’t feel any different than the other people in that bar. Did I have some mysterious characteristic that told him I was old enough to drink?

Not long after that, I had a blind date with a lovely young man, nine years my junior. We decided to have a meal at a late night college hang-out in Berkeley. We walked in the door and the joint was jumping (as they said back when I frequented joints that jumped). As soon as the two of us entered, the place became silent. The waitress (who was blonde, lithe and six feet tall and towered over both of us ) stooped over and said with an” I’ll bet anything they’re both hard of hearing” expression on her not-yet twenty-year-old face, “Were you looking for someone?”

My date, whose name was Brian and had a very short Irish temper, said, “No. We want to eat dinner.”

She smiled and the shine of her teeth was blinding. “Follow me,” she said taking those giant steps that healthy Viking types take. We sprinted behind her to a table in the middle of the chaos (that had resumed). “I prefer a booth,” gasped Brian. She walked VERY fast.). “And I need to sit next to my lady so I hear what she is saying.”

Our waitress patted his balding head and assumed an “I knew they couldn’t hear, poor old things” expression. “Of course,” she said and ushered us to a booth opposite the Ladies Room in the back hall. “Will this work?” she roared. “Would you like a beer?”

“I’d like tea,” said Brian, “Decaffeinated…and you, darling?”
I smiled up at the waitress and across at my new paramour. “I’ll have what he’s having,” I said. “But I take mine with caffeine.”

At this point, another couple came into the place and the waitress waved them over to a table without leaving our side. “Why didn’t you usher THEM to their seats the way you did us?” I asked.

This time she patted MY head. “Because they can walk,” she said. “I’ll go get your tea.”

I turned to Brian, who was cleaning his glasses and shouted into his good ear. “Was it me or was she being condescending?”

Brian frowned. “WHAT?” he said.

The next day, a very tall, very idealistic Indian student at Stanford invited me to trip the light fantastic (as they used to say when I did not risk a hip to trip it) with him at Roble Gym on an undergraduate dance-party night. I was delighted and I dressed in a full skirt, high heels and a loose blouse (to set up a bit of a breeze when we waltzed.) The two of us entered the auditorium. The music blared. All the dancers moved instantly to the left of the dance floor with high energy and great zeal. Aravind (my sweet cub-let) and I stood isolated on the far right. “Why did they move away to the other corner?” I asked my stand-in for Fred Astaire.

“They’re afraid they’ll step on you,” he said. “Let’s dance.”

And we did. We waltzed, we lindy-ed, we two-stepped we swung, I in my swirling skirt, he in his beautiful, un-calloused bare feet. As we left I distinctly heard one of the other dancers say, “Why did Aravind bring his grandma to the dance? It is awfully late for someone her age to be out, don’t you think? “

Her partner said, “That isn’t his Grandmother, stupid. She is Jewish. It must be his professor.”

“Well,” said the young lady, hiking up her jeans to cover her navel and clucking her gold-ringed tongue. “That’s one way to get an A.”

The next morning I awoke, my head filled with lilting memories of a night well spent and looked in the mirror. I saw a tiny very old lady who looked like my deceased mother after a hard day throwing insults at the cruel, angry world she created. I was shocked. How did SHE get in here? I closed my eyes to erase the image and recalled those wonderful moments moving to the soaring rhythms of Johann Strauss in that lovely boy's arms. The imprint of that soaring melody filled my heart and I could feel the way it propelled my feet across the waxed floor of that magic gymnasium. I opened my eyes overwhelmed with the beauty of that memory. I looked once more in the mirror and this time I saw ME.

“Someone's opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” -- Les Brown