Lessons Learned

It was a typical day at Sam’s Club and there I was with my army-sized supply of toilet paper and a five-quart jug of peanut butter, waiting in line.  I was standing behind a group of elderly ladies and trying not to be nosy, but since two of the three were wearing hearing aids that appeared to be off, it was hard not to listen.

The first thing that hit me is that when you get older, your give-a-damns just disappear.  Nothing is off-limits.  I. Cannot. Wait.  I love these women. I want to be these women. I thought I had a snarky attitude, but I could learn a thing or two from these lovely seniors. They are my heroes.

Emily:  Yeah, I am so happy I found the value pack of these Depends. The Grateful Dead tribute band tickets go on sale next week and I want to be ready to stand in line.

Margaret:  Did you see the gallon sized Preparation H?  I didn’t see the gallon size of the Preparation H.

Joan:  What?

The next thing I realized is that these ladies, easily in their 90’s, get lucky way more often than I do.

Emily:  I’ve got a date with George tonight.

Margaret:  Didn’t you break your hip last time you saw George?

Emily (with a faraway smile):  Why yes, yes, I did.

Joan:  What?

And that being older doesn’t necessarily mean being nice. My Grandma Mooney taught me this lesson. These women just solidified the idea.

Emily:  Did you see Ethel’s bathrobe last night at the buffet?  I can’t believe she’d wear that!  It shows everything she’s got, the wrinkled old bitty.

Margaret (stage whisper):  I heard that she’s sleeping with Frank.

Emily:  Frank has the clap.

Joan:  What?

They didn’t quite get the whole concept of social media – though, really, this was to be expected. These ladies were obviously out and about and active, and no doubt spending their free time with tribute bands, and seriously, who wouldn’t?… with no time for idly sitting in front of a computer.

Emily:  I saw my youngest great-granddaughter, Jessica, today. She was busy on her cellular phone, putting on posts to Snaptalk.

Margaret (with a not-so-slight tone of ‘I know better than you’):  It’s Facechat, dearie.

Emily:  What?

Joan:  What?

I had a little déjà vu when we got closer to the check-out … I swear, I’ve had this same conversation with my mother. I won’t tell you which one of us is which in this scenario.

Emily:  Margaret, hand me my checkbook.  I think I have one check left in there.

Margaret (busily counting quarters and pennies): No, Emily, you used that in the dollar store.

Emily:  Are you sure?  Hand me my pocket-book.  Are you sure?

Margaret:  One hundred thirteen, one hundred fourteen… damn it, Emily, you made me lose count!

Emily:  Found it!  Now where is my license? 

Joan:  What?

I felt bad for listening in and was trying to read a magazine to drown them out, but they just wouldn’t stop.  These ladies never met an ailment they didn’t like and enjoyed the challenge of topping each other’s illnesses:

Emily:  My knees are really acting up today.

Margaret:  Oh?  My blood pressure is up.

Emily:  My heart feels funny…

Margaret:  I died last night, but I feel better now.

Joan:  What?

At this point, I felt like I knew them personally, so I made sure to wish them a great day.  Emily and Margaret nodded and smiled, heading out the door, but Joan looked at me blankly.  I repeated, “Have a nice day” in my outside voice and she leaned towards me.

“You know, I can hear perfectly well. I just find it more fun if it appears that I can’t. I’m seeing George on the side, Ethel’s my sister, I gave Frank the clap, and honestly, I can’t stand those two.”  Then she smiled and toddled after her friends to the door.

One last lesson I learned about the elderly today?  I cannot wait until I’m old enough to be Joan!

 

 

Valentines and Self-Realization

The older I get, the more I realize that my mother was right after all. I am just like my Grandma Mooney.

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Grandma Mooney & the Case of the Vinegar Valentines

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of my Grandma Mooney (more specifically, she was my Great-Grandmother). That may seem odd to some people (to think of grandparents around a holiday meant for couples), but there’s a reason behind it.  She was actually quite a colorful character… and then some. And one of her favorite things to do centered round Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really observed much anymore, but back in the day people would give out what were called “vinegar valentines.” They were basically insult cards with a caricature drawing on the front and a small acidic poem on the back that tended to call people out as being either foolish, a spinster, a loser, etc. You get the idea. They were pretty unflattering for the recipient and not exactly the heartwarming valentines we give out now covered in hearts and roses. Grandma Mooney absolutely loved giving these out to so-called loved ones and friends.

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It was one of her favorite times of year because, while she may have been thinking these evil thoughts all year, now she was able to put those thoughts to paper. And let me tell you, she got serious pleasure out of poring over who would get what card. If memory serves they were sent out anonymously so the person receiving the snail mail insult couldn’t be sure who thought they were an idiot, but rest assured, someone out there in the world did. The ironic part is that Grandma Mooney would get super pissed if she ever got one. She sent them out by the bucketful but getting even one in return was blasphemous.

I wish I could’ve seen her face as she was picking out the cards and sending them out. It’s hard to picture without having seen it up close, but anytime Grandma Mooney was up to trouble, she’d laugh… not out loud… but sort of an internal laugh so that her massive bosom shook like jelly. Watching her go through her stash of valentines with an intensity more often seen in a tax auditor and the inevitable intervals of shaking as she came across just the perfect one for say… Georgie or Carlene… would’ve been a hoot. Although I’m just guessing that these two were among the lucky recipients.  Grandma Mooney always kept her list top-secret so no one could rat her out.

In truth, though, I almost wish more that I could’ve seen what she did when she opened up one that she had received. I’d be observing that from a very safe distance of course.  I mean, there’s just no sense in poking an already pissed off bear. Grandma Mooney would’ve made Sherlock Holmes proud though… because after receiving one of these heart to heart communiqués in the mail, she suddenly became a resolute and determined investigator, examining handwriting, postal stamps, and whatever else would give her a clue as to who sent it.  She’d wander around the house muttering names for a week as she narrowed down the list of suspects. And when she finally had that “eureka!” moment and was convinced she knew the perpetrator of this horrible crime, she immediately began planning the coming year’s list, editing it accordingly, and putting that person’s name in the top position. Ahh… it’s the simple joys that mean the most.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I was just like my Grandma Mooney. I’d take offense at that if I could only figure out how to argue the rationale. Admittedly, I can see the similarities — though not to the extremes of my enjoying sending anonymous insults. But I do share some of her ornery eccentricities. In some respects, it may seem like an awful comparison — but along with her cantankerous quirks, my grandmother had a heart of gold and took care of her family above all else. So I guess when all is said and done, I’m pretty happy to be compared to her.

 

Beauty Regimen

No one wants to grow old and most of all no one wants to look old. I know. I get it. The cosmetics industry, including anti-aging products, are a booming business and the money these companies make off vanity and insecurity (women’s and men’s) is astronomical. I’m not above it all. I want to look the best I can when I do decide to wear make-up. And while I haven’t succumbed to the siren’s call of anti-aging products thus far, I may still yet.

The sheer number of products available to curb Father Time is overwhelming and quite intimidating if you ask me. I mean, I can’t decide what I want for dinner most evenings for goodness’ sake — and here I’m supposed to choose from among a gazillion different beauty products destined to make me look like the 25-year-old model poised tantalizingly in their ad? Speaking of which, really!? Since when do 25-year-olds need anti-aging creams? Yeah, yeah, sunscreen, moisturizer, you’re done. You’re beautiful. Don’t rub it in (a pun, ha!). But the genius behind the marketing has even the youngest, most beautiful women with nary a wrinkle anywhere on their body, let alone on their face, feeling they need, no, absolutely must have that fine-line diminishing cream.  And it doesn’t end there. Oh no.

There are anti-wrinkle creams, under eye creams, over eye creams, creams that will magically destroy the jowls you’ve been working on since you took the leap into your 40’s. Some of these products are so perfectly ensconced in their pretty little jars that I simply love to stare at their glistening, velvety texture. It seems a shame to ruin that flawless, minuscule Dairy Queen twist by actually using it. Oh hey, didn’t Dairy Queen have a two for one cone special today…!?  But I digress.

Several of the products I’ve seen and have sampled at various counters smell divine while others reek more of the wildlife exhibits at a less than fully janitorial-staffed zoo. I received a makeover once at an upscale cosmetics counter and the neck cream the woman liberally applied (couldn’t complain about them being stingy with products!) was lovely and had a strong perfume-y odor which I suppose is better than an elephant house at the zoo theme, but it was so pungent that within seconds of it being applied, I had an allergic reaction to the smell and my throat closed up. Not exactly the look I was going for when I got there, thank you very much.

Navigating the vast reservoir of choices in a drug store or online are no different. Maybe it’s my age, which would indicate I need a hell of a lot more than just these products on my shopping list, but not only are the ingredients confusing – most of which I cannot pronounce – the promised results are often contradictory.  Oils to reduce wrinkles on acne prone skin? That one just doesn’t make sense to me.  Vanishing cream!? Doesn’t work the way you’d think. I tried. Was greatly, GREATLY disappointed to still be visible, I’ll have you know.

Things used to be so much simpler. When I was growing up, my mother had PHisoderm. That was it. And my brother and I were not allowed to touch it. It was hers. She always had beautiful skin. I guess I wouldn’t have shared with the likes of my brother and me either. They don’t make the original version of PHisoderm any longer. Oh, you can buy the new generation of formulas the company has on the market. But the original has apparently gone by the wayside. Too bad.

Of course Cleopatra supposedly bathed in milk to stay young and supple. But look where that got her. So not sure I’ll be trying that beauty regimen any time soon.

So. You can see the issues I’ve been having with choosing an anti-aging beauty regimen at this stage in my life. Although I’ve tried to be the “modern woman” and get on this whole “turn back the clock train,” I usually just end up slathered in overpriced foul-smelling goo desperately asking no-one in particular “is it supposed to sting!? No, seriously, is it supposed feel like this!?” and then staring in the mirror for over an hour with a magnifying glass looking for minute changes. Who has that kind of time? Not to mention the pain threshold.

and inside look into my nightly beauty routine

an inside look into my make-over attempts