Saturday, November 15, 2008

Old people: I lieks dem

I was emailing with Nomo a while back, about Edward Albee and how I once played 'Gramma' in American Dream: it was the role of a lifetime, and I earned heaps of accolades ... from other graduate students in our rinky-dink theatre group.

It was surprising to them, but not to me, how easily I transformed myself from stylish young Goth to cantankerous, stooped, straight-talkin', rule-flouting old lady. I curled my hair up tight and sprayed it silver. I wore orthopedic white loafers and support hose and a truly unflattering dress. It was awesome. You see, I love old people.

I am in awe of old people. At the CB (our brunch spot) where they congregate in search of cheap food and old-style specials like liver and onions, I surreptitiously watch them. Old people have skills, skills I admire:

1. Their clothes are always neat, fit well, and are well-pressed. Old people are good at tailoring things, darning things, treating stains, whitening whites, and ironing. I suck at all these things and so buy dark clothes that fit poorly and get thrown out every four months.

2. Old people know how to keep their wallets closed. Once, at the CB, I saw two old ladies while away an hour and a half sharing one piece of pie and two cups of tea. When the bill came, they verrrrrrry carefully split it. You had the sense that there was change in their change purses still unspent from the 60s. I admire that. Sometimes, I spend $8 before I even land in the office in the mornings. Appalling.

3. Old people are handy: the menfolk know stuff like how to build shelves from scrap lumber, how to tune up the lawnmower, how to do winter maintenance on shrubbery and such. They clean gutters and install storm windows in the fall. I buy prefab kits that take two years to get put together, and ignore or subcontract (at great expense!) the rest.

3. Old people are crafty and ingenious: the womenfolk cook. Every day. A variety of healthful, unfancy, tasty foodstuffs that don't require exotic vinegar (that's a shout out to you again, Beck!). They can make useful stuff. They hem curtains or, hell, sew 'em from scratch, liners and all.

4. Old people know their own minds. You might think old people are closed-minded, because they're old and snappish, but if you scratch the surface a bit, old people have often developed quite considered opinions on the basis of some truly interesting life experience. They've got a whole lotta livin' on me, so who am I to say/

5. Old people are quiet. They like to sit still. They like to nap. Me too, me too, and me too.

6. Old people get to have grandkids: having already raised kids, they appreciate this opportunity immensely, both in terms of getting to play with little kids and in terms of knowing they still get to have a full night's sleep. This allows them to truly enjoy it all.

7. Old people, when they retire, get to follow their own interests: having already worked full careers, they appreciate this opportunity.

Okay, not all old people are like this. But there are a lot of well-dressed, frugal, competent, quiet, and lively old people around here, and it makes me smile to get to hang out around them. I share Munchkin with them: she dances, we all smile. They think of being young, I, of being old.


Omaha Mama said...

I'm with you.
And the stories! I have two grandmothers who don't say much, but when they do. You LISTEN.

I pray I'll have such wisdom some day. That, and the clothes thing. That too.

Beck said...

I mostly love old people. My husband's grandfather is probably the greatest guy ever - handy, dapper, funny, laid-back, and always up for a game of Fish at six in the morning with my early-rising kids. And my grandmother - so ladylike and pretty and talented and good at making do and brave - well. I just don't think, generally, that younger people measure up.

Amanda said...

That, right there is it, give and take, dream and live. Beautiful.

No Mother Earth said...

I, too, love how the older generation knows how to do just about anything around the house. It humbles me.

Cloud said...

You'd love my neighborhood! It is mostly old people. And you're right, they're fun.

Patti said...


Kyla said...

I bet it was quite impressive to see Goth-you become Granny-you. I think Josh is an old man in a young body. He's handy, he cooks, and he sews.