words are all i have

I’m old, I’m wrinkled and I’m going to get in your way

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Aging sucks.
Oh, yes, aging sucks because, whereas I once went years without so much as an annual checkup, I now have a squadron of medics. More than you’ll see on any episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
I have a GP. I have a doctor for my failing kidneys. I have one for my gout arthritis. I have one who monitors my hormonal levels. I have one who checks my eyes. I have three who examine the odd notions that gather in the chunk of grey matter between my ears.
Aging sucks because I leave half of my teeth in a glass at night. And, I swear, it takes me less time to complete the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle than it does to get my two partial plates and what remains of my natural teeth brushed. By the time my pearly whites are shining and in place, it’s mealtime again.
Aging sucks because I’m a “ma’am” instead of a “miss.”
Aging sucks because of all those potty trips in the middle of the night, which may or may not have something to do with failing kidneys.
Aging sucks because I have vivid recall of events that took place 40 years ago, but I can’t remember where I put down my reading glasses 40 seconds ago.
Mostly, however, aging sucks because of what I refer to as Green Banana Syndrome.
That is to say, once there are a certain number of candles on your birthday cake, society views you as an antiquity whose sole value is limited to keeping bingo parlors in business, watching Matlock reruns and bitching about the Harper government.
If you think not, try going for a job interview once you’re north of 60.
The date on my birth certificate, you see, is the very reason that I twice have received the official stamp of disapproval from would-be employers in recent months.
In the initial instance, a young lady in the power chair lobbed a series of powder-puff questions about my recent work history, all of which I handled as smoothly as Lady Gaga hitting the high notes. I even managed to squeeze some lighthearted banter into a chin-wag that would determine if I was to remain between assignments or make a re-entry into the work force.
Then it happened.
“What’s your five-year plan, Patti?” she asked.
I looked at her…and smiled, ever-so-coyly.
“Five-year plan?” I said, giggling. “Four years from this very month I’ll be 65 years old, so I don’t do a five-year, five-month, five-day or five-minute plan. I don’t even buy green bananas, because there’s no guarantee I’ll be around when they’re ripe.”
It was a joke, but I noticed she wasn’t laughing. And, the very next day, it was confirmed that she didn’t share my humor, because I received an e-mail advising me that I wouldn’t be cleaning her downtown hotel.
A month earlier, meanwhile, I had applied for a dishwashing/cleaning position at a small cafe/bake shop on Cook Street, a misadventure that involved a lady owner who had the bad manners to arrive 30 minutes late for the agreed-upon starting time of our tete-a-tete. And, in short order, she dismissed my stellar history of cleaning spillage, slopage, food scraps and vomit from the tables, floors, walls and washrooms in nightclubs and/or restaurants for the past three years.
“You know,” she said in the first 30 seconds of what was more a condescending, motherly sermon than a job interview, “when we get to a certain age there are things we can’t do anymore.”
Well, duh. Thanks for the bulletin, lady. What will you tell me next? That it snows in Winnipeg? That Adam Sandler makes bad movies? That I shouldn’t buy green bananas? I know already.
Nobody has to tell me that I can’t skip rope like I used to, nor do I play a mean game of hop-scotch anymore. But I can bloody well still lift this half-baked bakery boss’s 10-pound bags of flour, sweep her filthy floors and scrub her soiled baking pans without slipping into a Grandma Simpson seniors moment in mid-mop.
Yet, it’s as if my skills have vanished into some sort of Bermuda Triangle that swallows up the silver-thatched and wrinkle-skinned. My resume is, apparently, as worthless as last week’s losing lotto ticket.
Look, I make no apologies for the fact that I’m old enough to recall when Kennedy and Kruschev were engaged in a nasty game of chicken just off the shores of Cuba; when Timothy Leary was telling kids to turn on, tune in, drop out; and when the entire family would gather around the tube on Sunday night to watch Ed Sullivan get all warm and fuzzy with a faux mouse name Topo Gigo.
So what if there were 61 candles on my last birthday cake? When I look in the mirror, I don’t see 61. But, then, I don’t know what 61 is supposed to look like. Heck, I don’t know what old is supposed to look like. Is old supposed to look like Keith Richards?
Indeed, how old is old, grasshopper?
But, you know something, if society is going to treat me like I’m getting in the way, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’ll start acting my age. And you know what that means, don’t you? That’s right. I’m going to really get in your way.
Heaven help you if you’re ever south of me when I’m behind the wheel of a car. I’ll go 30 km/h in an 80 km/h zone and you can be sure I won’t be in the curb lane. Nothing but slow moving in the fast lane for this little, ol’ lady from past-her-prima. And don’t even bother honking or giving me the finger. I’m old. I can’t hear. My eyesight is suspect. That’s why I use two spaces when I park and still manage to ding the side of your car with my shopping cart.
And be advised that if you’re standing behind me in line at the checkout counter at the Market On Yates, I’ll be doing the “old lady thing.” Oh, yes. I’ll dig into my change purse like a National Enquirer reporter digs for dirt on Lindsay Lohan, and I won’t stop digging until I find the exact change for my purchase. Right down to the very…last…penny. By the time I’m through counting coppers, that loaf of bread in your basket will be as stale as a Bob Hope joke.
I don’t want to be this way, but I have no choice. Society has forced my (wrinkled) hand.
Society, mind you, has also given me a boffo idea for my next job interview.
To wit:
Instead of taking along my worthless resume, I’ll just bring along a bunch of green bananas…just to prove there’s lots of life left in this ol’ girl.
How’s that for a five-year plan?

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