After dinner at a nice restaurant, about 9 p.m., the eight of us retired to the adjoining bar, where we had dessert.

The pianist played and sang, sometimes in a gravelly voice, imitating Satchmo Armstrong, sometimes in his own pleasant voice.

We were celebrating the birthday of one of us, and he had invited the group to dinner to mark the occasion. We brought him gifts of wine and books and comical cards.

The cards were passed around the table so each of us could enjoy them and the laughs they provoked. We toasted him with our wineglasses and wished him well.

The fact is, our wishes were sincere and genuine but unnecessary. He was the kind of fellow who would do well and be a smashing success whether we wished it upon him or not.

My wife and I had met two of the couples previously, but it had been a year or two ago, and we remembered little of them and, I assumed, they remembered little of us. Conversation flowed easily and no one was reluctant to speak up.

The slight unease I felt because of being good friends with the host and his wife and much less familiar with the other two couples may have made me a little less communicative.

Sitting in the bar, waiting for the fireworks (which performed punctually at 9 p.m.), I watched the dancers. The bar was crowded, and every table was taken, so there were plenty of people, and some of them wanted to dance.

Most of them were graceful and good at it, but I could not help but notice that many of the men were gray-haired or white-haired and were there with women whose hair most assuredly had been dyed, for it was brown or black or auburn and surely did not survive these many years without turning a little gray.

I guess it is common for women to color their hair, and no one seems to notice or object.

Prior to dinner, while we were enjoying hors d’oeuvres, my wife and I had a martini, hers with olives, mine with onions. I sipped it slowly, acknowledging the fact that it made my stomach warm and after a while, my head a little dizzy.

The other six at the table drank wine, some red and some white. My wife and I said no to the wine, believing the martini would be plenty of booze for one evening.

We were certainly right about that. The evening ended with congenial goodbyes and hugs and kisses, and when we arrived home, I had to struggle to stay awake long enough to get my clothes off and get to bed. I chalked it up to barhopping, something that I had not done for 40 years.

I can see now that it takes a man stronger than I am to do that with any regularity.

Melvyn Schreiber is a physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Melvyn Schreiber’s essays are now available as a paperback book (without the book reviews and opera reviews). If you want one, send $15 to him at 12 E. Dansby, Galveston, TX 77551, and he will mail a copy to you. It’s not heavy enough to press your trousers with, but it may please you in other ways.

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