In Her Words
Call Me Grandma … Please!
So maybe longing to get old seems a little contrary – but being old has some benefits I want now!
-Melina Gerosa Bellows
A lot of women I know wish they were younger. Not me. These days I really find myself longing to be old. Now that forty-is-the-new-fifty old, I’m talking ancient, wrinkly, stooped over, octogenarian, dowager old. Here are 10 reasons why, and the creaky little steps I’m taking to move toward my goal.
1. Old Ladies Look Rich
I feel like an old lady lately, so I might as well look like one.
Action Step: I got a mink coat. How un-P.C! How old-fashioned! That’s exactly right. Welcome to Old Lady Land, do you think I care? Actually, I traded in my late grandmother’s brown mink (which made me look like a tree stump) for an eggplant swing coat at the flea market. Totally fab and chic, and I didn’t kill a single critter. When I wear my new old fur, I feel instantly like an old lady. Method dressing, Meryl Streep should try it.
2. Old Ladies Toodle
Here’s a sight you don’t often see: An old lady, driving maniacally to yoga class, flipping off the other drivers who dare to get between her and her Downward Dog. That’s because old ladies Sunday drive seven days a week. I am sick of racing around. I want to toodle.
Action Step: I went on Craig’s List and bought an ancient relic, a Mercedes-Benz with 180,000 miles. Going fast is no longer an option. I love my Toodlemobile.
3. Old Ladies Don’t Have to Work Out
Who cares if Grandma is muffin toppin’? No one is even looking! How relaxing. The last time I was working out, my stomach looked exactly like the old lady in the willow tree from the animated Disney movie Pocahontas. Why do I even bother sweating five days a week?
Action Step: Swear off the gym. If the urge to exercise strikes, borrow a miniature poodle and go for a teensy, weensy, little walk.
4. Old Ladies Have Nothing to Do
I’m trying so hard to have nothing to do. But my two preschoolers, full-time job, second job as a writer, and waistband keep getting in the way. Life is so distracting when I have Nothing To Do.
Action Step: Hurry Up, Do Nothing!
5. Old Ladies Can Drink at Any Time of Day
Have you ever noticed that it is always 5:00 p.m. in an Old Lady World? I don’t know exactly how the math works, whether it’s Early Bird Special meets Daylight Savings Time with and extra 70 percent Saving for Seniors coupon, but it’s always Happy Hour. True story: My 86-year-old grandmother outlived her hospice stay, and was living/dying at home with our family. Toward the end, she’d sleep much of the day. One night, we were having pizza for dinner. We served Grandma a slice with a brewski, and she said, “I’ve never had beer for breakfast, but I’ll try it.” That’s it, Granny, just go with the flow. God, I miss her. Action Step: Set the clock to 5:00 p.m. and replace working batteries with the ones from the remote (which do not work). Ta-da, Happy Hour!
6. Old Ladies Retire Early
The Daily Show starts at 11:00 p.m. Is Jon Stewart kidding? An 11:00 p.m. start time? That’s his best joke ever! Doesn’t Jon know that I’ve gone to bed hours earlier, and have already gotten up at least once to fetch water, soothe a nightmare, or fix my son’s CD player from being stuck on Love Me Do (he insists on listening to The Beatles all night long)? I literally go to bed before I used to eat dinner. If I was an old lady, Night Life would be considered waking up in the morning. Action Step: TiVo everything, tell children Noggin is having a Time Out from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.
7. Old Ladies Demur
You just don’t realize it because of the phrasing. Example: “Grandma, want to come to Johnnie’s soccer game?” Grandma: “Honey, I’d love to, but my hemorrhoids are acting up.” Because you don’t want any more details, you don’t press. Then Grandma is free to hang out with cronies who have made similar false claims so they can play cards. And drink sherry. Action Step: Learn how to say no.
8. Old Ladies Get to Be Opinionated
Cards, bridge, mahjong. It’s all a cover for the real joy of sharing opinions about children, grandchildren, and neighbors. Then, when someone goes to “the powder room” to “freshen up” the rest share their opinions about her opinions. Gossip is the gift that just keeps on giving. Action Step: Netflix Helen Mirren in The Queen for tips on being entitled to one’s opinions.
9. Old Ladies Are Not Expected to Date
When Gramps exits stage left, no one expects Grandma to go trolling on Match.com, or stock up at Victoria’s Secret for any late-night booty calls. No, Grandma can stay home and hog the remote, drink beer and fart instead of making small talk about the Super Bowl.
Action Step: Institute this strict regimen: Drink sherry with the girls, gossip, and go to bed early. See above for details.
10. Old Ladies Are Entitled to Senior Moments
How relaxing it would be to have an excuse for walking up two flights of stairs only to completely forget the purpose, then walk back downstairs to a child with nary a stitch on. “Oh, that’s right, I was going to get clothes …”Action Step: Strategically fake forgetfulness so convincingly that Rob Reiner’s mother will declare, “I’ll have what she’s having!” Then, when the real thing happens, say, “I was only kidding.” Then tell your friends at the next bridge game.
Melina Gerosa Bellows is a best-selling author and a leading magazine editor. She is a new columnist-blogger for BettyConfidential.com.