Yum Yum is this ice cream and hot dog joint in Greensboro. I grew up snacking there. In fact, most of Greensboro grew up snacking there; I think the place opened in 1906. Since it’s also located pretty much in the middle of UNCG, it draws a large and loyal crowd of varying ages.
Lately, my schedule has taken me there in the late afternoon, when the crowd tends to be older. I was watching a couple this afternoon, a man of about 70, and his wife or girlfriend, who looked older but was probably about the same age. She looked very much like the stereotypical retired librarian, rather plain and shy and conservatively-dressed. I got the feeling she didn’t smile very often, and that she felt a little embarrassed about it any time she did. I got the impression that she didn’t get an awful lot of joy out of life anymore, but that going to Yum Yum and having a hot dog and a Cheerwine, followed by some ice cream, was probably one of the few things that completely filled her with happiness, even if only briefly.
I rather liked her, and I felt strangely protective of her, too. It struck me that if anyone were to do anything to cast any sort of shadow over her happy moment, I might have to hurt him. She deserved to enjoy every minute of her outing, and nothing was allowed to ruin it for her.
I’m not sure why I felt so attached to this woman. Maybe she made me think of my own mother, who really doesn’t resemble her in any way, but who seems increasingly sad and depressed herself lately. I wonder where or how (or if) she finds her own happy moments these days. I took her to Yum Yum one night a few weeks back, hoping I could help her find one.
I also wonder if I’ll be the same way later in life — if I’ll get to some dark point where my final days seem much closer than they do right now, and where I can’t find much to look forward to or get excited about myself. I really hope that if I do, Mark will occasionally take me out to Yum Yum and feed me ice cream and hot dogs. It makes the prospect of aging a lot less scary.