Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My Senior Moment

Yesterday I was visiting my dad at my parents’ apartment which is in one of those Old People Condos—where there is a common area for kibitzing and drinking bad coffee while eating the free Famous Amos cookies provided by The Management. I was struck by the irony of a Senior Citizen Social Area, since it seeks to encourage socialization among people who have hit the age where they no longer give a damn about social graces. I had wondered how socializing at my parent’s condo went on a day-to-day basis, and this visit provided an illustration in vivid, living color.

On that day, the people I met (mostly older ladies due to the well-known delta between men’s and women’s life spans) were all truly lovely people--who lacked either an internal monologue or a desire for one. At “a certain age” you get to say, “Hell with it; I’m 78. They can kiss my a** if they don’t like what I’m saying! What are they going to do?! Fire me? Cut me out of their wills? Feh! Kiss my butt--both cheeks, young whippersnappers!!” How sweet is that?

Anyway, so I was with my dad, daughter and niece in aforementioned coffee area, where I was regaled by sweet old lady after sweet old lady telling me what a “hot ticket” and “sweetie pie” my father is. Nice! I always thought so, but it’s nice when you get the third-party confirmation. Especially because my dad is as eccentric as they come, so if these ladies are finding him charming in his old age, then there is hope, my friends, for ME. ;)

Anyway, one woman is off to the side and starts engaging my niece. Then she says to me about my niece, “Is she yours?” To which I replied, “oh no, she’s my sister’s. She is my darling niece.” She then looks at my daughter and says, “So—are you babysitting?” yeah, lady. I’m babysitting. At 33 years old. On a Thursday. With a wee little bambina that I can’t stop kissing and hugging. THAT would be only the most inappropriate daycare situation ever…okay, maybe not, since Michael Jackson is still on bail. But you get my point. I said, “oh no, she’s all mine. Just got home from China last month!” So then she says, “Oh! Well isn’t that nice for you {in that way that says she doesn't really think it would be nice FOR HER}. You know, Those Babies really are very cute, aren’t they?”

“Those Babies?”

I wanted to ask her, “do you mean Chinese babies specifically, or southern Chinese babies as opposed to their lighter skinned northern Chinese brethren, or slightly brown babies in general, or all foreign babies, or, you know, random babies from wherever that place is where the food is spicy and you still call them “Orientals”—or do you mean ‘SHE really is very cute, isn’t she?’”

But I just said, “Thank you! We think she’s fabulous!” assuming she was dumb but not malevolent. However, not content with one faux pas, this Loonygenarian then said, “See that man over there? (meaning my Dad) He’s going downhill fast; I don’t think he’s going to make it to Christmas. Every time I see him, he looks worse.” She then asked, “So—what brings you to {apartment complex name}?” To which I replied, “Well, that man is my Dad.”

At this point you think she would just curl up in a ball and roll her embarrassed self out of there, but instead she stood taller, and said, “Well, harrumph, you’d better keep an eye on him then. Because he really doesn’t look good to me.”

Thank you for the compassionate concern, Mrs. Wilford Brimley.

I decided right there and then that I cannot wait till I retire so that I can start saying with impunity all the things I really want to say but currently have too many bridges to keep fire-retardant to be as forthcoming as I’d like on various and sundry topics. Old age has its bummers, but I consider the ability to just pop off on any topic at will to be one of its golden benefits...along with the discounts on coffee at McDonalds and "Simonizing" (whatever that is) at my dry cleaners. Golden Years Indeed, People!

On the other hand, it has been said that rude senior citizens were rude young people and are just using age as an excuse. Perhaps it's like what Robin Williams said of his cocaine addiction: "They told me it would be great; that it would 'expand your personality.' But what if you're an a**hole?!" Maybe that's why I look forward to getting older; so I have an excuse to be the Mrs. Andy Rooney that I am at heart right now in my 30's...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I find your insight into life very warm, refreshing, and most endearing. In short I love you and everyday I look forward to more pearls of wisdom from you.

E said...

Oh my goodness! I am blushing! And that is a bit of a rare occurrence for me. :)

Thank YOU for reading my stream of consciousness ramblings!

Miko said...

More stories from Del Boca Vista, please!

I had a boyfriend who would gush from time to time "I love old people." He really did, too, having grown up with a lot of kindly, funny aunts and uncles.

My response was always "...all of them?"

Miko said...

More stories from Del Boca Vista, please!

I had a boyfriend who would gush from time to time "I love old people." He really did, too, having grown up with a lot of kindly, funny aunts and uncles.

My response was always "...all of them?"

E said...

Miko,

You are too funny! "Del Boca Vista" made me laugh till I cried. I always think fondly of the Costanzas, mostly because they are kind of like my parents...so all the shouting feels natural to me.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine you blushing, and I find it very cute.

But thank you for your, as you put it, stream of consciousness ramblings. They brighten my day.

Although, my declaration of love does contradict one of your other so called ramblings. Meaning I am a male who had no problem of making a public declaration of love.

misterfed said...

As another parent of children adopted from Asia (two from Korea, starting on one from China), I'll be interested in reading more about your experiences with public reactions to the bambina.

On the one hand, it's easy to be hairtrigger about it and assume the worst mindset is beind every comment. On the other hand, a lot of comments are just born of obnoxiousness.