The Soupster contemplates the future.
The Soupster sipped a frothy, fizzy, pinkish punch from a clear plastic cup. He and the friends who surrounded him raised their plastic cups to wish the best to Glenn the plumber, who was finally retiring.
One would think a man who had spent nearly 50 years with half his body crammed under a damp sink might be a little stiff in the joints, but not Glenn. Delighted that so many of his friends had come to see him “off,” Glenn flitted effortlessly from one to next like a honeybee intoxicated by a field of flowers.
The only person the Soupster trusted more with his pipes than Glenn was the Soupster’s former gastroenterologist, Dr. Berra. And Glenn was a close second. Over the decades that Glenn had kept the water flowing at Chez Soupster, he had dealt with exploding pipes, leaky water heaters and, worst of all, really, really rusty bolts holding the broken toilet seat on. And he had done so as cheerfully as he now visited with his guests.
“Gonna miss Glenn,” thought the Soupster, “like I miss Dr. Berra,“ who had retired to Gig Harbor the previous year.
A lot of the people in the room were customer-friends of Glenn’s, and a large portion of them practiced other trades. For “birds of a feather” reasons, many of them were near retirement age themselves.
The Soupster did a quick head count and realized with a start that he might soon be losing Burt, his auto mechanic, his dentist Linda, his bartender Tracey, and Big Leon — who could fix anything. And that was only the people in the room!
It’s common knowledge that people don’t seem older to themselves – that they feel like they’ve always been the same person inside. Seeing the people around you get older can be more profound, especially if they perform a vital function. Who’s going to fill your cavity or mix your martini?
The Soupster admitted that he felt some vertigo every time he dealt with an especially competent professional who was young enough to be his son, or worse. Once, pulled over for having expired plates, the Soupster got out of the car with all the confidence of an older and wiser man ready to forgive the impetuous youngster, except that the officer was right. The old Soupster’s embarrassment was punishment enough, evidently, because he was let go with a warning.
In Our Town, the Soupster sometimes got the double dizzies when dealing with an authority figure he remembered as a little kid. The banker who signed the Soupster’s loan was the same kid the Soupster saw win a Hoop Shoot in the 1980’s.
Glenn’s daughter had brought her small children to the party and a few of their friends had tagged along. The Soupster looked them over and wondered which of the little people might morph into authority figures of the future.
Would any of them shoot for the moon someday? Would any of them walk on the moon someday?
A plump, fresh faced three-year-old waddled up to the Soupster. “I want to be an astronaut!” she said.