“Ohmygod, Mom . . . ” says any one of my children interchangeably. This is how I know I have said/done something eccentric/old-fashioned/embarrassing/inappropriate. And I, quite proudly will smile and say, “What?”
Years ago, working in the coffee shop of a popular book store, I saw a little old woman with a pleasant smile, hunched over a display. She wore a cap on top of her freshly dyed auburn hair. This was no ordinary cap. This cap had bill on the front and was hand-crocheted in the brightest hot-pink yarn ever made.
I watched her for a minute, and then told my young coworker, “That is what I want to be when I grow up.” She looked amusingly at the small-framed woman, now shuffling off to another table, and then back at me. “I want to be old enough to wear a hot-pink crocheted hat in public, and have everyone go on about their business like it is a perfectly normal thing to do.”
Elderly people do and say the most astonishing things. Why, a couple of months ago, I saw one stop in the middle of a four-lane road, put his truck into reverse, and despite the vehicle behind honking like a banshee, backed full-throttle into it. It appeared he had missed his turn. Stopping to give my name and number as a witness to the accident, the old man exited his car with a “Whoops!” look on his face and a shrug.
During their later years, Gramma and Grampa said some horribly embarrassing things while we were in public. You see, Gramma had a very weak voice. And Grampa had a severe loss of hearing. They remarked on politics, drug use, the decline of America, the uselessness of the next generation, and even old people. That last one always confused me.
You could see it coming. Gramma would zero-in on the “poor soul” wearing a tie-dyed shirt or bell bottoms, then discretely lean over to Grampa and say the offensive remark in his ear. She’d say something like, “You know those young people are all smoking the marijuana these days.” Then Grampa would look at her like she had two heads and shout, “Eh?” (They were Canadian by birth.) And that was my cue to put down my fork and duck under the table.
My own mother told a completely inappropriate joke at the Christmas Eve table one year. I responded, “Mother!” and my son echoed, “Gramma!” She upped the ante by replying, “What? You think your grandpa and I never did it?” Mom was a good fifteen years older than I am, so I have time to hone my skills.
Today on our morning run to get coffee (Coke for Bubba), treats for the dog, and little donut holes so good we call them deep-fried crack, the following conversation took place:
ME: That guy had a sticker on his car that said Take me to Regions Hospital. Is he sick? He’s driving. . . can’t he take himself there on his own?
BUBBA: That’s for if gets in a wreck.
ME: If he gets an erect?
BUBBA: Yes, that’s for if he has an erection that lasts more than four hours and he needs to talk to his doctor . . .
I’m not quite there yet, but I think I’m getting closer.
Peace . . .