Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hope and a lot of change.....

Let’s talk about change. Not necessarily hope. Just change.

The kind that collects in the bottom of a woman’s purse or a man’s pockets.

Periodically I empty all of the coins from my wallet into a smaller change purse I carry so that my wallet doesn’t look like a chipmunk preparing for a bad winter. I’m not sure what I’ve gained, though, since all that metal is still weighing my shoulder down. It does seem to help for some reason that I can’t explain, though.

Pennies have their own repository in a ceramic dish in my kitchen. When they start falling out of the dish onto the counter, I gather them up and make a trip to that noisy machine inside the door of my local grocery store that whirs and sorts and counts and then spits out bills at me. Who said a penny has no value?

Here’s the thing I’ve been pondering, though. I’ve noticed that “older” shoppers (certainly older than me) must really hate change. There are many levels to this statement—many don’t react well to new ideas or ways of doing things or they haven’t taken the plastic off their furniture in decades—but let’s focus here on the coins that are the inevitable result of buying things. That kind of change. It’s just going to happen.  You give someone a $5 bill for an item that rings up at $4.27 and boom—there it is. Seventy-three cents to add to the collection in your wallet or pocket.

But seniors must hate the stuff beyond all reason, because the next time they step up to the counter to pay, here’s how it goes. Their purchases total $16.63, but rather than hand over the $10, the $5, and 2 one dollar bills, they start digging in their wallets or pants to come up with exactly sixty-three cents to add to the $16 they have begrudgingly pulled out. (We won’t even discuss the oft-seen option of attempting to ferret out the $1.63 entirely in change. My heart won’t take it.) And heaven forbid they use the $20 bill they have hidden in there. Not going to happen.

In the meantime, we all stand patiently (or not so much) behind them, watching this archaeological dig, as the clock tick-tick-ticks away our perpetually disappearing time. And maddeningly, all this searching sometimes ends with, “Oh, here!” as they toss bills on the counter anyway. They give up the quest, and we all sigh in relief.

Maybe legal tender for those over a certain age should ONLY be paper money. No change allowed at all for them. I’m sure merchants wouldn’t mind, especially if they round up to the next dollar when they see white hair approaching. None of us would mind, either.

That would be a welcome change, wouldn’t it?

We can always hope.

 What I like most about change is that it's a synonym for 'hope.' 
Linda Ellerbee 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The LIST......

No one told me about this. There are just so many surprises as we age, aren’t there?

It seems that the day your Medicare card arrives in the mail, something else comes with it. I’ve never actually seen this list of “ ready-to-use after age 65” statements  myself, but I’ve been exposed to enough people in this category to surmise that it does indeed exit. It has to….why else would so many older folks use them on a daily basis?

You know the ones I mean, right?

“Look how fast he’s going!! What’s the big hurry anyway??”

“Only girls wear earrings. And he needs a haircut, too.”

“Look at all those tattoos! You know what they’ll look like when they’re our age, don’t you?”

“How do you carry that purse around? I’m surprised you don’t have back problems.”

“Why can’t they have paper towels in bathrooms anymore? I hate these blower things.”

And my personal favorite:

“Why are all these people out on the roads? Isn’t it a work day? I thought there was a recession.”

And each such statement is followed with a sound that I used to think writers made up, but it actually does exist. I’ve heard it myself:


But to make it all the more fun, EVERY time we drive an interstate or go shopping, or need to use a public bathroom or venture forth anywhere, the applicable statement is pulled out from their wallets (behind their Medicare cards where they hide it, I guess) and used as if WE are deaf and didn’t hear it the first thousand times or so they said it.

I know, I know. I’ll be there myself soon and should have more empathy. In all fairness, it does seem to take a few years past 65 before these statements are used regularly, but they seem to catch up with everyone eventually.

You’re probably right, I should be more understanding, but in the two years until that happens, I’m taking my huge purse and going shopping. I may even speed a little along the way.

And I’m sure I’ll hit a few bathrooms while I’m out (a topic in this category for another day), and I assure you that I won’t mind those hand blowers a bit.

 The older you get, the more you tell it like it used to be.
-- Author Unknown





Sunday, October 7, 2012

Turn off that television.....

Who IS that person?

The one on the television screen with the deep creases etched along her mouth and all the crinkly skin bunched around her neck like a band of folded tissue paper. Discarded tissue paper at that.

Oh. As much as I want to turn away in horror, denying the truth, it's me.

We often speak in cliches, blithely, with no attachment to those words...until we are slapped with them on a personal level. Until they are describing us and not the old lady who lives down the street.

Like hearing your own voice, recorded and then played back. "That doesn't sound anything like me," we all say in astonishment. Except that everyone else recognized us instantly as that tape plays on.

Or, as in my case the other day, "Who IS that old lady?" I said. Everyone else called and emailed, though, saying how great I looked on a recent TV interview about my book, Nothing to Complain About. What am I to make of that? (How I looked, not that I AM complaining about it. I'll have to deal with that issue another day.) I saw myself on the screen and was shocked right out of my complacency. My internal life is so much younger than that face looking out at me, the one belonging to someone I don't even recognize. Not even a little bit.

My reaction since has been all over the emotional map, running the gamut from pricing face-lifts to wanting to crawl under the bed covers for the rest of my life. Certainly not to be seen on television. Ever again. I feel much like I did when I turned 60, the depression settling around my ears (at least ears don't seem to they?), a low-grade angst residing in my belly like a rock.

As is often the case, our children can put us back on track, either by distracting us with all their shenanigans that we are required to deal with, or by simply speaking the truth without worrying about our reaction ahead of time. Even if they are adults, as is my daughter.

"I guess the important thing, Mom, is that you don't FEEL like an old lady," she said as I groused and complained (yep, I did it again) about my appearance on television. Well, let's be honest here....about my appearance period. She knows me well, this young woman who I raised as a a single parent for over 15 years. She knows that I take ballroom dance lessons, do interval weight training at my gym several times a week, undertake a new adventure every month (some of which she has been witness to), and write educational materials for teenagers to name just a few of the things that keep me busy....and young in heart and mind and (some parts of my) body.

No old ladies live in my house, that's for sure.She knows that and on many levels, I know that, too.

But just to be safe, keep those TV cameras away from me in the future, OK?

 A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.  ~John Barrymore