My wife and I were eating at one of our favorite restaurants the other day when our waitress came by to refill our drinks.
We’d been her customers many times before, and we got to chatting about how things were going in her life.
During the course of the conversation, she informed us she hadn’t had anything to eat that day — despite having worked for more than eight hours at that point. She also said she’d only had two hours sleep the night before.
In fact, she said, it wasn’t uncommon for her to go without sleep for a couple of days at a time.
Did I mention she was young?
After she darted off to another table, I turned to my wife and remarked, “I don’t think I was ever that young — and I definitely didn’t have that much energy.”
My wife and I weren’t exactly what you’d call hell-raisers growing up.
In our younger days, we did our share of staying out late, but nothing too extreme.
I saw the sun come up on more than one occasion, especially in my college days. But I always went to bed and slept for several hours after a long night out.
I remember one time I had to study for exams, and my roommate talked me into pulling an all-nighter with him. We went to the local coffee house and pounded down several cups of coffee — and very little food. Around 5 a.m., we headed back to our apartment, and I was wired.
I eventually took a shower and went to class to take my exams. I was a mess. I couldn’t concentrate and had a pounding headache. Around noon, I dragged myself back home and tried to sleep, but my body was all out of whack.
I finally napped for a couple of hours around dinner time, but I only slept two or three hours that night. Needless to say, I never did that again. In fact, I had such a bad experience, I didn’t have coffee at night again for several years after I graduated.
But here was our friendly waitress, blithely telling us about her frequent sleep-free nights and how it didn’t really bother her. She said she just “liked to go out a lot.”
I liked to go out, too, when I was younger, but I wasn’t exactly a party animal.
One time, when I was in my early 20s and living in Illinois, I went along with some of my co-workers who traveled 40 miles to go to a disco in a neighboring town (Don’t laugh — it was the fad in 1978, OK?). Anyway, we ended up closing the place down, and as I was driving back to my hometown at 3 a.m., I felt like such a rebel.
Oh, yeah. I was a real bad boy.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel like I missed anything by not being more of a partier growing up. I had enough experience with the wilder side of life to know that it wasn’t a good fit for me. And making that discovery is all part of growing up — hopefully.
I turned 61 last month, and as the years have accumulated, I’ve gradually grown more comfortable with who I am. I’m not flashy. I’m not stylish. I’m not terribly charismatic. I’m just me — and on most days I’m OK with that.
Of course, it helps that my wife accepts me for who I am. She’s a wonderful woman who puts up with a lot some days, but she loves me just the same — and that’s a huge blessing.
Most people who have known us for a little while — including our young waitress friend — tell us we look like we fit together. And we take that as a compliment.
One of the great things about getting older is that you no longer feel like you have to try so hard. You don’t have to constantly prove yourself.
Except for a few occasional aches and pains, life’s pretty good.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I really need a nap.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor for opinion of the Killeen Daily Herald and editor of the Harker Heights Herald. Contact him at email@example.com or 254-501-7543.