Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Practicing to Be a Cool Old Lady



I don’t want anybody to be shocked when they see me when I go back to Jersey. I’ve really aged in the last year. It’s probably from the stress of losing my mother plus I turned fifty and I’m going through menopause. All of a sudden I have wrinkles all over the place and I’ve got this paunch in the middle that I see a lot of middle-aged women get. I’m not too worried about the paunch. I’ve watched all the women in my family get it when they went through menopause and then when they were done with the changes, a few years later, they got skinny again. I ride horses and take care of this whole farm myself so I’m not too worried about it. I’m very active. But the wrinkles. They’re not going away.

What bothers me about it is what other people are going to say. They will whisper, “Oh, what happened to Debi?” And “Debi looks terrible!” I know I look tired. I feel tired. I feel like I’ve been through the mill these last few years. If it wasn’t for what other people are going to think, I really wouldn’t care too much. It’s not like I’m going to let myself go. I’ll have blonde hair on my deathbed. But you can’t control everything.

The problem is, they haven’t seen me for eight years. We all age and I know they have wrinkles too. But they’ve seen each other regularly so I’m sure they don’t notice it in themselves like they’ll notice it in someone who they still think of as being forty-two years old, the age I was when I left. And then I’ll show up and I’ll be fifty. It’s like when someone dies. You always picture them the age they were when you lost them. But I’m coming back. And yeow! It’ll be a shock.

But who cares? I’m going to be a cool old lady. I knew this was going to happen sooner or later so I figured I better find a way to accept it. If I can’t look like a hot number when I’m old, at least I can be fun and make people smile. You know, like a Betty White type. So I’m practicing. One time I took a sip of water and spit it at Kelly. Got her right in the head too. I also race her up the stairs and I beat her because I cheat—the trick is I hold her until I get ahead of her. It helps if the dog’s involved because he grabs her by the ankles.

We talk with English accents. I encourage her to call me “Mum” and we stop whatever we are doing whenever Russell Brand comes on the TV so we can study him and make people chuckle. (They often chuckle in England whereas we Americans tend to laugh or giggle.) Today in Cato’s, Kelly held up a shirt and I exclaimed, “That’s quite lovely!” Kelly said, “I know Mum. It’s splendid, isn’t it?” Kurt told the clerk, “They’re not really British you know.”

I’ve also been practicing in Walmart. It’s so dreary in there—what better place to spread some joy? I always talk to everyone anyway. Now I go out of my way to do it.

I make a point of using the cashier’s name. “Thanks a lot Ruby. You have a great day.” They always look surprised that I read their name tag and used their name. Like it actually took effort. You get easy credit for this one.

I make jokes to strangers in the aisles. “Now if only I could hit the lottery I could buy some meat to go with all these snacks!” (We’re big on snacks in this house; hence the paunch mentioned earlier.)

I always stop and chat with the greeters because they get a bad rap. Like that’s an easy job. I’m fifty and I couldn’t stand on my feet all day long like they do. Most of them are senior citizens and they don’t even let them sit down. Why can’t they say hello from a stool? Why isn’t there a stool on the side so they can at least take a load off when no one comes in?

And I try to be helpful. “I get the store brand salsa,” I told a woman who looked confused, her hand hovering back and forth between the Pace and Chi-Chi’s. “The lime and garlic,” I advised. “It’s delicious and you get a lot more for the money.”

One time I had such a long conversation with a woman on line at the deli counter that I found out she’d lost a child and she was raising her grandchild, the state where she was from, the kind of work her husband did, her middle name and why she was named that, what kind of cold cuts she was buying and the theme for the party she was throwing on Saturday. She was wearing a butterfly pendant on a gold necklace. I didn’t tell her about my mother. You know, and how she loved butterflies. I didn’t have to because I felt so good making that lady feel good, that’s what I was busy doing. When she got her order, she reached out and squeezed my arm. “It was so nice talking to you!”

All day long I felt good. I noticed, when I looked in the rearview mirror driving home, that I was smiling. And there in the corner of my eyes were big crow’s feet. And somehow, they didn’t look so bad.

19 comments:

Christina said...

Laughter shows on the face even when your not laughing. If I hear an English accent anytime soon, I will look around for you. LOL I like that.

The video is a baby penguin being tickled and he is giggling. I mean really giggling like a baby. It is the sweetest video I have ever seen, thats why I shared.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. They're all older too. Just be thankful wrinkles don't hurt. As long as you have a sense of humor that's all you need to get you through life. And always remember it could be worse, you could be my age!

Tanya said...

well i think you are doing a GREAT job at this aging thing!! so funny about the english accent thing and we LOVE russell brand in our house!!

true about the aging thing when you haven't seen someone in a long time...i mostly notice this on fb with high school "friends" i haven't seen since high school...i of course haven't changed a bit (since i see myself daily) but some of them sure look old lol

CountryDew said...

The English accent is probably en vogue right now, what with the royal wedding and all.

I talk to people like that in Walmart, too. I am glad I am not the only one. It makes the place less dreary.

Tammy said...

Are you sure you don't want to move to Nebraska. We have so much in common. Both 50... and the horses... and the Walmarts... I am not sure if either of us would get a word in - we are both talkers. Most of all, you make me laugh. Somedays that is all I need. Today was one of them. Thanks for making me smile...

Sloan said...

We all should look half as good as you do at 50! I am sure you are going to look just as beautiful at 60, 70, or 80 because you are beatufiul inside. I know you are going to be a cool old lady Debi. What fun, spreading cheer in Wal-Mart!

Cape Coop said...

Well, judging by the previous comments- there are a lot of us cheerful,overtly friendly,helpful, silly and funny gals! We should start a club!
I have cards printed up for our house- my name and Kiddle's. I chat up everyone I encounter and offer the cards while saying- "If you'd like to learn how to do that/this recipe/someone to talk to/advice/a baked good donation --- why just shoot me an email or call, anytime!" I've got people in my "life" who email me just for advice or a recipe once in awhile who I've only met once, and years ago at that! I feel lousy not being able to work- being friendly makes me feel better!

Chris said...

At least the laugh lines look better than some of the others. You earn your face, good reason to smile. I talk to folks everywhere I go. I like Cape Coop handing out cards, what a lovely idea.

Sweetflutterbys3 said...

I thought that picture of you was your daughter. Seriously.

Honey, I'm right behind you so don't feel too bad. Every time I feel upset about how old I am, I think to myself, the alternative is a lot worse.

zenmama said...

How fun! Russell Brand in Walmart, my imagination is going crazy. Clearly you are handling the process of ageing with grace and humor and, in the end, that is what keeps you truly young. Love your posts.

Nezzy said...

I truly believe we earn our faces but baby, I'll be fightin' the wrinkles to my death bed. I'm a year and a few months from sixty. Oops, did I say that out loud.

I've used Retin~A since my late thirties. Equate version of Neutrogena Healthy Skin durin' the day and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil as my night cream. I get stopped in stores and asked what I do for my skin. What you put in your body is as important as what you use on it too. It makes my son mad if someone asks if I'm his wife. I just grin! :o)

God bless ya and have a great fun day!!!

Motley said...

Honey, you are my ol' lady and your beautiful!

Leonora said...

Even the hardest knocks in life haven't made you lose your sense of humor or turn bitter. That says a lot! I doubt we shop the same Walmart, but what fun it would be for all the chatty people to run into each other on the same day : )

Horses Are Our Lives said...

You don't look 50 either! I'm " a little over 50" but with eye cream and sunscreen around the eyes, my wrinkles haven't grown. I think I'll start using that cream that takes away eye wrinkles! LOL But it can't hurt. You made me laugh. I actually do say mum, and it's not an accent. I'm from western PA. But those Jersey accents sure are different! I think you sure made that lady's day, talking to her. Good for you. That's a good lesson for all of us... just to be friendly!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Thanks everyone for all the nice comments and especially to my old man Motley!

Beth said...

Hey there, Debi! Sorry I've been out of touch---lots of stuff going on and I haven't been on the internet much.

I think most folks would be happy to look as good as you do at 50. To me, the most beautiful faces are those filled with humor and kindness. "It's only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the human eye." Early menopause and stress have been hard on my face and body---I just have to be thankful for those who see me with their hearts and not just their eyes.

It was nice to see your husband's comment. He clearly finds you beautiful!

Gilly said...

If that is you at the top of this post, you don't look a day over 35! Honest!

I'd really like to be behind you in the queue (English for line!) at a supermarket - I could have a real conversation!

You sound a really wonderful woman!

Peggy said...

I think you look cute! I wish you were my neighbor, it would be fun to play with makeup.

I also had a stressful couple of years, with a job loss and illness. I've aged to much, I don't recognize myself. It's really hard when I see someone from the past. Sometimes I pretend like I don't notice them because I'm so embarrassed. Awful, but true.

I sure hate being called older. Older than what? And even worse. Ma'am. Hate it.

Chris said...

I bet you never age to Motley, good thing love is blind.

Recently I had an ID card made, and YIKES, the picture, truly scary! It may get me pulled by security for extra searching, it's that scary. :)