“While we’re still young”

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‘When it comes to age, everything is relative.’

My Favorite Younger Sister Laura (at left above, smiling and be-hatted) has a lot going on and is often in a hurry. When someone dawdles, say, at a traffic light that has just turned green — or spends too much time chatting up the checkout girl at Costco, she is wont to mutter “while we’re still young”.

She does this so often that when her adorable daughter Natalie was only about two, she would parrot her, much to our amusement.

But, amusement aside, “while we’re still young” has begun to resonate with me, and not just at traffic lights.

See, we helped The Child celebrate her birthday last week. And I realized that she is now the same age I was when I pulled up my socks and moved myself to New York City. This was a pretty brave thing for me to do at the time. (And yes, there’s a story, called “Take a Letter, Miss Henry”.) I didn’t know a soul here, but I decided I needed to get my Ad Career into gear before I got too old.

Me, getting longer in the tooth every second I stayed stuck in Kansas City

The Child, same age as me, above, yet looking long in leg — not in tooth

Yes. I thought I was old — at 27! But, like I say, when it comes to age, everything is relative. Speaking of which, my Favorite Older Relative, my own personal mother, had three kids by the time she was 27. And she didn’t start all that young, at least not for the 1950s.

My Mom was forty when her daughter (me) got married. I was forty when my daughter was born. And see my Grampa? I’m older than he was in this picture — right now

I used to warn The Child that if she waited to give birth till she was the same age I was when I had her, I’d be too old to hold the baby. Or I might drool on it. After all, I’d be (gasp) eighty. But now I have friends who are eighty, or at least pushing it — some damned good bridge players among them — so that joke falls rather flat.

Back when Grampas and Grammas looked, well, like Grampas and Grammas. And not like my fellow bridge players

And my Mom? Well, as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, she and I are starting to, well, look a whole lot alike. People might think we’re sisters, and not mother/daughter. Or buddies. Like two Ladies of a Certain Age who like to hang out together. Which, I guess, is what we are.

Same three Henry Gals, having a great time together, as usual. Tho now I’m older than Mom was here

Speaking of hanging out with similarly-aged people, I used to babysit for one of my mother’s friends. She was (and is) a woman younger than my mom (she had little kids when my Mom had high-schoolers). Anyway, after I grew up, she kept telling me I could stop calling her Mrs. Meisenheimer and call her “Ruth”. You know, since we were both grownups. But I couldn’t do it; she was Someone For Whom I Had Worked who was a Friend of My Mother’s. So Mrs. Meisenheimer it was. Until the day I turned 60, and Mrs. M sent me a birthday card that said she thought it was about time I cut it out. So, hi, Ruth!

I want to note here that The Dude has his own version of “while we’re still young” — it’s “while we still can“. Which is what he says when we go on our adventures. We go to these exotic places — like Uganda, and Guyana, and the Amazon — to hike and search for rare birds. Sometimes these trips are arduous and even treacherous. But The Dude, bless him, insists we go “while we still can”.

And so it goes. See you next week — when, dammit, I’ll be even older. But then again, so will The Child.

The Child and BF celebrating her birthday in Boston — because why not?

Dude Man and Me celebrating my birthday in the wilds of the Amazon — because we still can

New York City. April 2019

 

 

 

“Open mouth, insert foot”

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‘Questions my mother taught me just not to ask’

Back when I was an Advertising Upstart in Kansas City, I was appointed one of a panel of judges for a creative show. A “creative show”, for those of you not familiar with the Ad Biz, is where Ad People get together to award each other prizes for their work; the “work” being the ads that they come up with for their clients.

Now, I don’t know if agencies still do this sort of thing, but back then these were not only occasions for self-congratulation, they were opportunities for a whole hell of a lot of partying. Sigh. Those were the days.

Me, back when I was judging creative shows and sampling my own feet

Anyway. There I was, a freshly-minted Advertising Judge, on my way to the judging venue, which was some hotel in, I think, Omaha. I get on the elevator where I see a woman about my age dressed in slacks and a sort of tent-shaped top. So I say to her (just being polite, you know), “When is your baby due?” Well. If looks could kill, I’d have been dead for more than thirty years now. “I am not pregnant,” she spit through clenched teeth, then swirled her tent-topped self and turned to face the elevator doors. I swear I could see smoke coming out of her ears. Continue reading

Don’t call me “Madam”.

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“I much prefer “Miss”. Or even “Hey You”.’

I was going to write a post about weddings. About how they’re the Best Parties On The Planet. About how, in my opinion, even George Plimpton’s last Hamptons Bastille Day bash couldn’t hold a Roman Candle to a wedding. After all, weddings are where you get to dress up and dance and drink to ecstatic excess. And all for the price of a toaster. Or, these days, if The Dude and I are invited to a nuptial shindig, a round brass Tiffany clock.

Two wedding belles and a beau. Me with two New Best Friends at a wedding in June. (No, I have no idea who they are, and it was only a month ago. Great wedding)

Then I realized I already wrote that wedding/party piece. (See “I do, I do. I really do like weddings” for senior-moment proof.) Repeating my stories means it’s either time to wrap up writing this blog or for everyone to start calling me “Madam”. Or possibly “Ma’am” if we’re buddies as well as (old) friends. Continue reading

Just because it fits doesn’t mean you should wear it

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‘When everything in your closet is “vintage”‘

It’s getting to be Spring here (finally), so the other day I was participating in a seasonal ritual particular to New Yorkers (at least New Yorkers in apartments with small closets) — The Switching of The Clothes.

Which is when you dig your Spring/Summer stuff out of storage and switch it with the Fall/Winter stuff. In my case, “storage” is the second closet in The Child’s room. She has never realized that she has two closets; she grew up thinking it perfectly normal that Mommy’s out-of-season clothes lived in her room.

BTW, Switching The Clothes in Spring absolutely guarantees a cold snap. Today, the 9th of May, it is 48 degrees out, and where are my sweaters? Stowed away in The Child’s second closet. Sigh.

But back to the topic at hand, which, I suppose, is Age Comes Out of The Closet. See, in years gone by, The Switching was a pretty easy chore. I’d just grab everything — and switch. I wouldn’t even try things on to make sure they still fit; I’ve been basically the same size my entire Adult Life. Not because of anything I’ve done; I follow no annoyingly virtuous regimen or routine. It’s because I’m (mostly) a Swede. And it’s a well-known fact that Swedes don’t get fat. We shrivel. As we age, we sort of turn into the human equivalent of beef jerky. Continue reading