Knowing my place in the dinner line

COMMENT BY ANN RICKARD: One of the many statements you do not want to hear as you grow older (and my, but the list grows daily) is "let's meet for dinner at 7.30pm".

Going out to dinner at 7.30pm for old(ish) folks is much the same as heading out to dinner at midnight.

I don't mind dinner at home at 7.30pm (on daring occasions when a second bottle of pre-dinner wine is opened, I'll stretch it to 8pm), but it is the act of going out somewhere to eat at 7.30pm that frightens me now.

I know you've scoffed at the silly jokes about old people enjoying the early-bird dinner specials at 5pm.

I used to scoff with you and wondered who could possibly enjoy a three-course dinner, no matter how cheap, if you had to be out of the restaurant by 7pm to make way for the fair dinkum diners.

But I scoff no longer.

While I have yet to join the 5pm early-bird dinner brigade in a committed way, I have a niggling feeling I'm not far off it.

All the signs are there.

Whenever someone suggests we meet for dinner I have a mild anxiety attack.

What time will they suggest? Will I be able to stay up? Anything later than 6.30pm will not do. Not at all.

I like to eat out as much as the next person, but I also like to be home in pyjamas by 8.30pm.

We all get old and we all die. No escaping that.

But it would be convenient if we could go from the youthful stage of eating out late straight into the 4.30pm dinner in a nursing home stage, skipping everything else in between.

Early-bird eating is a subject that might not have given you cause for concern yet, but believe me, when you start fobbing off invitations that announce a start time of 7pm or later, you'll remember my words.

There is salvation for us early-bird diners though.

Unfortunately it awaits us far across the sea - in Spain.

The Spaniards consider midnight a good time to go out to eat. Old people, babies and everyone in between head out the door late at night to join others in crowded restaurants.

A trip to Spain might be taking things a bit far in an attempt to make you feel younger, but it will work.

Of course you need a long siesta in the afternoon, but what price a nana nap when you're knocking back sangria and paella at one in the morning?


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