Lisa Scottoline: How did I end up sitting at the old-people table?

Lisa used to think parents at weddings were using up seats where friends should have been.

I don’t know when this happened, but it did.

I’m officially one of the old people at the wedding.

You know, one of the “parents’ friends.”

I used to roll my eyes at those people.

I used to begrudge them seats at the wedding.

I thought they were taking up room designated for my friends.

And now I am them.

So there is justice in the world.

I realized it this weekend, when I went to a wonderful wedding. I knew the terrific young woman who got married, and I watched her grow up. She used to be the horse-crazy daughter of one of my dear friends, and she became a large-animal veterinarian, so she’s still horse-crazy, by profession.

Smart girl.

The bride’s sister was the same way, and I remember her growing up, too, running around in pigtails and paddock boots, eating potato chips out of a bag.  She grew up to be a doctor, so she’s a smart girl, too.

I was delighted that their mother asked Francesca and me to the wedding, and we enjoyed the ceremony together, sitting with a lot of other mothers and daughters. But we parted ways at the reception, when the daughters went to sit at the young-people table and the mothers went elsewhere.

You guessed it: the old-people table.

This is remarkable, because it seems like only yesterday that I was at the kiddie table.

Do you remember the kiddie table?

The Flying Scottolines were big on the kiddie table. Mostly because, as you may recall, Mother Mary was the youngest of 19 children.

Yes, you read that correctly, if you read 19.

Nineteen is a lot of kiddies.

Now imagine that those kiddies grow up and have a lot of kiddies themselves, and you’re basically looking at a sea of kiddie tables at our house, every Sunday when I was growing up.

They all came over for Sunday dinner, which was always spaghetti and meatballs.

I’m not sure why everyone came to our house as opposed to anyone else’s, but Mother Mary would want me to tell you that it was because she made the best gravy.

Which is South Philly for tomato sauce.

So at my house, it wasn’t a question of whether you sat at the kiddie table, it was a question of which kiddie table you were going to sit at. There were card tables everywhere you looked, and a lot of kids slurping spaghetti with  napkins tucked in their collars.

Same with the adults.

I still do that myself.

Even in restaurants.

By the way, in our family, the kids at the kiddie table ate the same food as the adults. I’ve heard this wasn’t true in other families, where the adults got the good stuff and the kids got fish sticks.

Come to think of it, fish sticks are pretty great.

But in our family, we all ate the same thing, and we also ate the same thing every night, as we lacked imagination, food-wise.

When dinner was over, the kids left the house and went outside to play, which is something children did in the olden days.

When did my life become a history lesson?

Anyway, after I outgrew the kiddie table, I had two weddings and two divorces, and then I blinked my eyes and the weddings were of my friends’ children, and that’s how, last weekend, I ended up at the old-people table.

I realized it because the first thing I noticed at the table was the centerpiece, which was a lovely runner of fresh wildflowers. All of us olds noticed it, too, and pretty soon we were talking about the centerpiece, and that was when it struck me that I had never cared about centerpieces before.

This is a side effect of menopause.

A Centerpiece Obsession.

In fact, I remember, in the past, I would go to weddings and see women at the table fight over the centerpiece or go through the polite minuet of “you take it,” “no, you take it,” which is the reverse-fighting-over-it way of women.

Either way, I would think that was really crazy.

I would think, Lady, buy your own damn flowers.

But now I want the centerpiece.

And I’ve been known to fight over the centerpiece.

And if someone says to me, “No, you take it,” guess what I do.

I take it!

And so, in the end, the old-people table suits me just fine.

And the good news is, we olds had a great time at the wedding.

Start with the fact that we’re still alive.

And the fact that we love to dance, and so we do, with each other and with our daughters, with the bride and her sister, and her friends, and the groom’s friends and family, which is what weddings are about, after all.

Like life itself.

All of us, together.

From kiddie table onward.


Look for Lisa and Francesca’s new humor collection, “I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool,” coming July 11,  and Lisa’s new domestic thriller, “One Perfect Lie,” in stores now. Also, look for Lisa’s new Rosato & DiNunzio novel, “Damaged,” coming Aug. 15.