The friends are excited, including Bob, at least slightly, who repeats, “It’s no joke now. We have to make sure it doesn’t become one.”
They received the grant.
They meet at a new diner today, continually rotating locations, since waiters make it clear that they don’t enjoy having a table occupied for a couple of hours, even though the men meet in the slow afternoon hours and believe that their tip is generous since they order just coffee and dessert.
Today, a manager approaches, after the check has been on their table for over an hour, and says, “Don’t be offended, but my customers see four older men sitting around, and think this is a place where the retired with nothing to do can come and not order very much. That’s not good publicity. If you could finish soon, I’d appreciate it.”
As the manager walks away, they take turns complaining: “He’s stupid. When we complete our film project and if it’s successful, there could be news stories that’d name the different diners where we met and did our planning. . . . All diners have down times–which is when we show up. They should want to attract the retired who are planning
projects. . . You think there are a lot of seniors like us who’ve actually started projects? . . . Maybe.”
Kenny says, “Seniors receive plenty of info on exercise, nutrition, seeing a doctor, but so little on how to successfully meet each other. Bob, with you as director, we’ll produce the best how-to educational dating video for seniors. And let me tell you, since I’m the only one of us who’s done acting, even if they were amateur productions. I’ve had some partial clothes-off experiences on stage. If there has to be a little nudity when we deal with the sexual relationship part, I mean, like taking my shirt off, and I’ve said this before, that won’t be uncomfortable for me–“
“Hold it, hold it,” says Bob. “Yes, O.K., we’re going ahead with the film, and we know, Kenny, that acting’s always been your dream. But Kenny, after we all retired–had to retire–you were the one who said that each of us should write down the dreams that we never accomplished. Then we should get together and tear these papers up. That’d show ourselves we shouldn’t feel badly that these dreams never happened. But we never did that and look what’s happening: You’re now straining to be a half-naked actor wanting to finally get noticed and maybe go to Hollywood? I’d hate for our video to be nicknamed by critics ‘Ridiculous Dreams of the Retired.’”
“Lay off Kenny,” says Steven. “Our film could get publicity and keep your movie directing dreams alive too.”
“No more big dreams for me,” answers Bob. “The world needs cynical realists. That’s my specialty now.”
“You’re happy being cynical as a senior?” asks Steven.
“Do you think our little film will breathe oxygen into your dream of helping people in a new, big way?” Bob replies quickly–
“C’mon, stop,” interrupts Myron. “But Bob, I keep reminding you, the numbers are on our side. With millions of widows and widowers and divorcees and the never-married living alone. If our movie is just minimally good, a large number of seniors will meet each other because of its advice. And I bet all four of us will be at least slightly noticed by the media. Whether we care to be or not.”
“If,” says Bob in a low voice.
They’re silent for a moment–
“Myron, I do have a numbers concern,” says Steve. “It’s from the data sheets you gave us. There are far more senior women than senior men our age who are concerned about dating. That obviously makes it harder for women to meet someone. I’m saying this because we’re four men making the movie–“
“Mr. Social Worker, that’s why we love you,” Bob interrupts. “We don’t have an outline for the film, what advice will be in it, and we just have a thirty thousand dollar grant. Yet you’re already worried that our film won’t be politically correct?”
“No, accurate,” Steve replies.
But Bob shakes his head at Steve. “Yes, The Retired Person’s Dating Film. Oh, to be retired and think we still have a chance to do something big and to do it right, so if we can just understand ourselves and others like us. While we hear our clocks ticking. While we can still hear the ticks.”
“Bob, doing the film perhaps will peel off some of your cynicism,” argues Myron. “But what does annoy me is the insurance company, my old bosses, telling us that if we bring in revenue over thirty thousand dollars, we have to donate it to the different senior centers they listed. I mean, don’t just look at us as fans on the sidelines. We want money too.”
“Cynical Bob agrees,” says Bob. “We have to change how the world sees us. Get everyone open and honest. Why not directly call the film: How My Friend Stopped Being A Short, Old Actuary And Is Getting Ready to Fight Back? Honestly.”
Bob offers his smile to Myron, who just stares back.
(To be continued…)