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!



Female Tattoos — the Bane of Old Age

Check out this “article” (I use the word very loosely in this case) about tattoos that women (not men, women specifically) should avoid getting because of the down-the-road implications.

Being someone with more than a little bit of ink adorning my own body, I obviously have weighed the pros and cons of where to have new tattoos placed and what exactly to get, which is why I found this brilliant piece of cutting-edge journalism so intriguing.

To start on a positive note, a few of these 15 recommendations I genuinely do agree with. For example, getting tattoos of curse words. In my opinion, it’s just tacky. Sure there was a time when we were all rebellious and wanted to go against the grain; so an artfully placed “F*ck the Police” tattoo might’ve seemed cool at the time, but I truly believe that most of us mellow out as we get older. We find more constructive ways to express ourselves rather than our use of expletives that reek of desperate attempts to shock the prude or elderly.

Case in point, my parents took my daughter and I out to eat at a nice restaurant a little while ago and our waitress had a phrase written pretty prominently on her arm with the word “fuck” in it. It wasn’t even a particularly “artful” phrase. It was right out in the open (although easy enough to hide with sleeves) and though I’m covered in my fair share of tattoos and very pro-body art, even I thought it was in bad taste…especially for someone dealing with the public on a daily basis – in a nice establishment no less. I was actually surprised she wasn’t wearing something to cover it up of her own accord or that management hadn’t asked her to do so.

So I have that in common with the article. And that’s about where our overlap ends.

Besides agreeing on the “no curse words” idea, the article is complete nonsense if seen as a whole. Imagine you’re back in Health class and there’s a diagram of a very basic, featureless female body on the chalkboard that the teacher is pointing at. Now let’s go through the suggestions of this article and see what’s off-limits, shall we? No hands. Nothing on the back. Cross off the stomach. Nix the chest. Forget about the thigh. Upper arm is out too. Lower arm as well. And no face. Put all that together and basically the “article” is saying that the only acceptable places for a woman to even consider getting a tattoo are the feet (covered by shoes), the back of the neck (covered by hair), the calves — which frankly I think they simply forgot, and…that’s it!

Roughly 80% of the body is a no-ink zone which, I’m sorry, but are you kidding me? Their reasoning for restricting all this skin real estate of course is because of how things might sag, inflate, wrinkle, and stretch over time. To the author of the article I have to ask the following: by the time we’ve hit 80 years old do you really think we’re going to care?

Speaking personally, if I live to be 80 the state of my tattoos are going to be the least of my concerns. Seriously, if I make it that far, there are going to be a lot, and I mean a lot, of other things taking precedence…such as whether or not I’m going senile…or have the ability to eat on my own…or able to afford health insurance. Those fairy wings elongated by gravity?  Not so much.

And if it turns out I’ve got all my wits about me, you damn sure better believe that I’ll be pointing at my tattoos and telling some great stories in the old folks’ home.