Read Old Man Scanlon

The Road to Lipinski’s

28 September 2018

Odds are I’m waking. Crows outside my window started it, and, a little closer to home, borborygmi, the cawing and croaking in my gut. My subconscious flashes a crossword answer. Snow-melt plinks off the eaves. Cheryl’s voice drifts from the other room; the phone is eating her actual words. Memory slithers into my bed and delivers my motivation to get out: I recall sinuous tendrils of volatiles snaking out of the New Public Market’s coffee grinders, while Grammy does her week’s shopping. I will grind beans, and coffee will be mine.


An evening Cheryl and I spent circumnavigating Boston with one of our sunny, voluble, and unreserved granddaughters has primed me to cherish simple things. This morning I stop for a moment before dressing, warming my feet on the sunny spot on the rug. I sit at the dining room table, embracing my familiar industrial-strength coffee in a mug nearly as old as I am, unreasonably pleased I still retain the wit to do British-style crossword puzzles, while Cheryl reads to me highlights from the life of physicist Richard Feynman and his quest for Tannu Tuva.


Urged by the temptation of novelty, I dispatch my Caesar salad’s anchovies, overcoming years of aversion to their fishiness. Oatmeal bread carbonizing in the toaster synergizes with vapors of Italian-roast coffee. Cheryl swears she can see my salivary glands clench when she whispers “calzone and chardonnay.” My cardiologist assures me a post-op navel to shoulder to elbow bruise is normal—to indulge my relief I devour shrimp curry and watermelon with obscene gusto. How promiscuous, how varied, are appetite’s triggers.


Cheryl parks across the street from a farm stand, under high-tension lines. I hear no corona discharge but the buzz from my Dunkin’ espresso is almost audible. Though still strong, the sun itself holds back, as if winding down for the season. The disturbed space teems with goldenrod and vetch, mobbed by wasps and small butterflies of the sort whose names we never take the time to learn. Cheryl scores bags of voluptuous native peaches and tomatoes. As it drones by, a light plane’s shadow blinks over the dirt lot.