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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!