This age stuff is starting to get on my nerves.
Yesterday, even though it was a bad hair day, I had my driver’s license renewed. Took the vision test, aced the sign identifications, looked at the light for the grouchy, jaded photographer so that he could capture me eight years older, and signed on the dotted line with a steady hand. My only mistake was asking the grouchy photographer/patrolman a question. He is also the person who hands out the check-in number so that one can listen in vain for two hours before it is called. Having watched him eviscerate a new resident for not having her social security card, I should have known better than to address him directly.
Do I need to sign exactly as it is on the license?
I was signing on a blank paper empty but for the line and couldn’t remember whether or not my actual license showed a middle initial or my full maiden name. (Is that a bad sign that I couldn’t remember? Stuff like this is important now.) Mr. Personality snapped, “It’s your name; sign it any way you want to.” Oh my dear trooper, we can’t always do what we want. If we could, you would be trying to figure out how to remove your misplaced preposition and your very large camera from your nether region.
Thankfully, the picture is blurred; it could have been much worse. But wait. . . . five years? It was renewed for only five years? My neighbor, who will be 50 in a couple of weeks, renewed hers today for eight years. What’s going on? Ageism? The Highway Patrol thinks I may go blind or senile within the next five years? Damn! That’s depressing!
Dearly Beloved’s mother is still alive and “with it” in mind and spirit, even if her body protests. I am painfully aware of doddering seniors who shouldn’t be on the highway since I am usually in the car just behind them, but somehow I thought there was a grace period, like seniors in high school and college who’ve taken all the required courses, where we get to be respected “elders” before moving into “old lady” stage. Can’t there be a time where others think us wise and mature, a revered status when we’re referred to as “still an attractive woman” and “certainly doesn’t look her age” and all that stuff we’ve always said about Lauren Bacall? Does one go directly from being part of the sandwich generation to being the discarded sandwich wrapper?
Will our children soon talk to us in patronizing tones? Mother, are you sure you should can do that alone? Will the grandsons roll their eyes at each other behind our backs? Will their phone calls to us be duty calls?
Already television has written us off. There is, of course, sports for Dearly Beloved, but even that is overblown with super egos and poor sportsmanship. There are no dramas or comedies that we watch together now. The pharmaceutical companies can barely squeeze in all their ads for bone loss, erectile dysfunction, incontinence, constipation, cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and any other senior pillworthy condition. Most of the shows are inane to the point of being insulting. Must everything be gross? Can’t there be shows with ethical heroes? faithful spouses? respectful children? intelligent conversations? kindness? correct grammar? Must female news anchors display their cleavage? When’s the last time we saw Charlie Gibson’s buns? Can’t there be role models without breast augmentation, athletic prowess, mean-spirited humor, foul mouths, religious or political zealotry? Does money trump everything, no matter how undeserved or ill-gotten? Am I old to feel this way?
Am I too old to get another dog? To dye my hair? To try to look pretty? To want to have family get-togethers for fun instead of funerals? To act silly with friends?
Today, wild with youthful abandon, Dearly Beloved and I thumbed our nose at tradition when we dined out and did not, for the first time ever, eat collards and black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year. The closest we came was the spinach in my quiche and the black beans in DB’s beans and rice soup. As we ate the traditional meal in large quantity last year, it is apparent that our digestive tracts are not the ones responsible for the nation’s economy. Had my intake been a factor, you’d be out shopping right now. This year, you’re on your own, but I won’t have gas tomorrow.
We’d planned to eat at the restaurant which serves such homestyle fare but there was a line out the door and out into the cold beach wind. This town is populated with transplanted Northerners since the tourists have slacked off for the winter. Yankees in line for lucky collards? CNBC should be here to film that! Rather than wait in line, we decided to go elsewhere. Is that spontaneity or impatience?
We had a glass of wine with a neighbor last night for a rockin’ new year’s eve. She’s almost 80, and as usual, we had a lively political discussion as she has very strong opinions. Doesn’t matter whether we do or not; she’s never quiet long enough to hear ours.
I felt reassured when she mentioned that she still feels young inside, for I’ve been feeling a little down about my upcoming birthday even though I have my Medicare card holstered and ready to go. But then she launched into a tirade on how someone had vandalized her shrubbery and left it completely butchered and that she plans to sue as soon as she can figure out at whom the suit should be directed. Her shrubbery looks the same as it did this time last year and the year before that as far as we can tell. There have been no reports of a serial pruner in the area. First Bush, now her bushes. This woman is being driven crazy by shrubs.
Confession: I cooked greens for dinner tonight. I thought about it and decided I just couldn’t take the chance.