One of those awkward childless moments

It never ends. I attended a high school alumni banquet with my 91-year-old father last week in San Jose. There are so few left in his class that now all classes that graduated from Campbell High School are invited to meet quarterly at the Elk’s Lodge. It was a mostly elderly crowd. Presumably the younger grads are at work on a Friday afternoon. Even the “kids” accompanying their parents were older than me, and I just turned 62. One younger guy sat at our table, so cute, so nice. If he were single . . .

Anyway, the man sitting next to my dad, Al, only 89, was so sweet and upbeat, despite being in a wheelchair with his hands so gnarled he could barely eat. My father was born on Al’s father’s ranch. These guys have known each other all their lives. It was a pleasant afternoon with corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, a raffle in which nearly everyone at our table won prizes, and great conversations. But–here it comes, my childless friends.

Dad and I were standing, getting ready to leave, when Al said to me, “I’ll bet he (Dad) spoils your kids rotten.” Maybe I should have just said, “Sure does!” but I didn’t. I told the truth. “I never had any kids. It just didn’t happen for me.” This father, grandfather and great-grandfather looked frustrated for a second, as if he didn’t know what to say, then said, “He spoils your brother’s kids though, doesn’t he?” The truthful answer is “No, he’s not that kind of grandpa.” But I had blown his mind enough. “Yeah,” I said and quickly asked about his own grandkids.

Al was just being nice, assuming the daughter in the good-girl outfit was a mom and that her father was a typical grandfather. Everybody has children, don’t they? No. We know they don’t, but it always seems to be a surprise when someone says, “No, I don’t have any kids.”

Al didn’t ask why and it was the wrong place to go into the details, but I felt almost like I was being rude to not go along with the program. Know what I mean? Has this happened to you? Please share.