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zandd.com: One thing I find to be rather funny is the sight of elderly people who drive fast. It just surprises me. I suppose the surprise is why I like it and why I find it funny.

I went to see an old friend the other night. We originally had planned to meet for dinner, but decided to just meet later for coffee instead. Why do people meet at coffee places anyway? I almost feel obligated to meet at coffee places if I want to see someone just to talk for a bit. I would rather say, "Hey, there's a little run-down bowling alley on Ventura and Corbin. Let's meet there to talk." Instead, I say, "Let's meet at the CoffeeBean." I don't even like coffee. It gives me a stomachache. To make things worse, it turns out that this friend of mine isn't too fond of coffee either. She's lactose intolerant.

So we meet at the CoffeeBean to talk. We hadn't talked in a long time. We have quite a history - friendship, childhood romance, jealousy, even a little betrayal. But through it all, we'd remained friends. We can go without talking for months and then strike up a conversation like we'd never missed a beat. I find that the older I get, the more I realize that things like this aren't too common. In fact, it's a rarity, a treasure. Something that is so valuable that you can only realize its true worth by losing it forever.

So we met and we talked. We talked for about an hour and a half. We talked about our families. We talked about our schools. We talked about the future of our respective social lives. She talked about her boyfriend. I talked about my inability to hold onto a girlfriend. We commiserated about the problems we have and we laughed about the funny things in our lives. And as always, I had to bring up the issue of "us." I always do. I don't think that we've had a conversation in the last few years that did not end with my bringing up the issue of "us."

I felt guilty. When I tried to describe to her how I felt, I think I used the word "dirty." I felt dirty. I felt like I was doing something illicit by maintaining such a close friendship with a woman who was involved in a long and serious relationship. I felt like I was throwing a wrench into the gears of a perfectly good machine. I felt like I was pouring sugar into the gas tank. I felt like I was pouring itching powder on the toilet seat. I felt like a saboteur. I felt dirty.

She said she was fine with our being friends. She also said that her boyfriend was fine with it, too. She had talked to him about "us," you see. I'd never met her boyfriend. Somehow I have the feeling that he's a big tall guy with arms that are thicker than my thighs. Even though they both may have been understanding about the situation, I still felt that I was deceiving this guy, this guy that I'd never met.

My friend and I parted without any resolution to the problem, as always. I suppose we'll just ignore it for another year, like we've done for the last few years. The holidays seem to get more stressful each year. We seem to have less time to shop for gifts. We seem to have less time to just relax. And every year around the holidays, I go visit old friends. And each year, I seem to have less energy to drudge up the past and to try to tie up loose ends. Maybe it's part of the process of growing up and growing old. We lose the wonder that we experienced as kids. The troublesome thing is, wondering if there never were any wonder to the holidays at all, just what was in our childhood eyes.

So the other day, I was driving up the 5 freeway and this elderly guy zipped past me in the fast lane doing at least 95 mph. I got a glimpse of his balding head and a handicap placard swinging from his rearview mirror as his white Cadillac shot past my little Corolla like a gossamer rocket. I think elderly people who drive fast are funny. I guess it makes me laugh because the older I get, the more I wish time would slow down. I have this growing sense of urgency, like a feeling that I won't be able to do everything I want to get done. I guess my elderly friend in the Cadillac had the same urgent sentiments. And it made me laugh.

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