Police in Tampa, Florida, raided and shut down a weekly $4-a-round mah-jongg game played by four
elderly women. The Week asked its readers for titles of crime movies that could be made about this bust:
Golden Girls, Interrupted
The Lavender Hair Mob
Indicting Miss Daisy
No Country for Old Women
The Social Security Network
As the hostess at the casino
buffet showed me to my table, I asked her to keep an eye out for my
husband, who would be joining me
momentarily. I started to describe him: “He has gray hair, wears glasses, has a potbelly …”
She stopped me there. “Honey,” she said, “today is senior day. They all look like that.”
Rosalie Daria, Cincinnati, Ohio
“Poor Old fool,” thought the well-dressed gentleman as he watched an old man fish in a puddle outside a pub. So he invited the old man inside for a drink. As they sipped their whiskeys, the gentleman thought he’d humor the old man and asked, “So how many have you caught today?”
The old man replied, “You’re the eighth.”
From A Prairie Home Companion
My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.
When a soldier came to the
clinic where I work for an MRI, he was put into the machine by an
attractive, young technician. Sometime later, when the examination
was over, he was helped out of the machine by a far older woman. The soldier remarked, “How long was
I in there for?”
Joanne Korman, Bedford, Nova Scotia
a teen takes a shortcut home
through the cemetery. Halfway across, he’s startled by a tapping noise coming from the misty shadows. Trembling with fear, he spots
an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at a headstone.
“I thought you were a ghost,”
says the relieved teen. “What are you
doing working so late?”
“Oh, those idiots,” grumbles the old man. “They misspelled my name!”
Submitted by S. K., via Internet
While he was visiting, my father asked for the password to our Wi-Fi.
“It’s taped under the modem,”
I told him.
After three failed attempts to log on, he asked, “Am I spelling this right? T-A-P-E-D-U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-M-O-D-E-M?”
Sharon McGinley, Talbott, Tennessee
“What’s a hipster?” asked my four-year-old cousin.
“Someone who will wear something just to look different,” I said. “They’ll often buy clothes in thrift shops and wear thick glasses.”
“Is Grandma a hipster?” he asked.
—Eyesha Sadiq, Woodland, California
In the hardware store, a
clerk asked, “Can I help you find
“How about my misspent youth,” joked my husband.
The clerk shot back, “We keep that in the back, between world peace and winning lottery tickets.”
—Leslie McRobie, Lee, New Hampshire
A beggar approaches a grandmother at the beach with his hands out. “Please, Señora,” the poor man pleads, “I haven’t eaten all day.”
“Good,” says the grandmother. “Now you won’t have to worry about cramps when you go for a swim.”
—Source: Funny in Spain Survey
A week after John bought a bull, he complained to his friend, “All that bull does is eat grass. Won’t even look at a cow.”
“Take him to the vet,” his friend suggested.
The next week, John is much happier. “The vet gave him some pills, and the bull serviced all of my cows!” he told his pal. “Then he broke through the fence and bred with all my neighbor’s cows! He’s like a machine!”
“What kind of pills were they?” asked the friend.
“I don’t know, but they’ve got a peppermint taste.”
Seeing her friend Sally wearing a new locket, Meg asks if there is a memento of some sort inside.
“Yes,” says Sally, “a lock of my husband’s hair.”
“But Larry’s still alive.”
“I know, but his hair is gone.”
While my parents were making their funeral arrangements, the cemetery salesman pointed out a plot that he thought they would like. “You’ll have a beautiful view of the swan pond,” he assured them.
Dad wasn’t sold: “Unless you’re including a periscope with my casket, I don’t know how I’m going to enjoy it.”
She’s only in her 40s, but my friend Mary has bounced back from cancer, heart problems, even a stroke. Through it all, she and her husband, Mark, have kept their sense of humor. One day she said, “You know what kills me … ?”
Smiling, Mark teased, “Apparently nothing.”
While visiting a retirement community, my wife and I decided to do some shopping and soon became separated.
"Excuse me," I said, approaching a clerk. "I’m looking for my wife. She has white hair and is wearing white shoes."
Gesturing around the store, the clerk responded, "Take your pick."
Senior citizens have taken to texting with gusto. They even have their own vocabulary:
BFF: Best Friend Fainted
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
CBM: Covered by Medicare
FWB: Friend with Beta-blockers
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!
Just as she was celebrating her 80th birthday, our friend received a jury-duty notice. She called the clerk’s office to remind them that she was exempt because of her age.
"You need to come in and fill out the exemption forms," the clerk said.
"But I filled them out last year," she replied.
"You have to fill them out every year."
"Why? Do you think I’m getting younger?"
We’d finally built our dream home, but the contractor had a concern: the placement of an atrium window for our walk-in shower. "I’m afraid your neighbors might have a good view of you au naturel," he said.
My middle-aged wife put him at ease. "Don’t worry," she said. "They’ll only look once."
The day after visiting a fair, my wife was in agony. "You know you’re past your prime," she said, "when you hurt all over and all you rode was the massage chair."
Retirement is the best thing that has happened to my brother-in-law.
"I never know what day of the week it is," he gloated. "All I know is, the day the big paper comes, I have to dress up and go to church."
When I was in high school, I wore Birkenstocks. Or as I call them now, the ’90s version of a purity ring.
At age 70, my grandfather bought his first riding lawn mower.
“This thing is great,” he bragged to my brother. “It took me only an hour and a half to mow the lawn. It used to take your grandmother two days to do it all!”
"Everything’s starting to click for me!" said my father-in-law at dinner. "My knees, my elbows, my neck … "
The sight of my mother cleaning her dentures fascinated my young son. He sat riveted as she carefully took them out, brushed and rinsed them, and then popped them back in. "Cool, Grandma!" he said. "Now take off your arm."
At the restaurant, a sign read "Karaoke Tonight!" Grandma studied it before asking, "What kind of fish is that?"
I knew that my husband’s hearing had deteriorated after our friend—new to the city— asked where he could meet some singles. "Well," said my husband, "I see them in the Kmart parking lot diving for fries."
"Dear," I intervened. "Singles, not seagulls."
An elderly shopper at our supermarket used a check to buy such items as cotton balls, cotton swabs, powder, and cold cream. On the memo line, she’d written, "Repairs."
I’ve always been a disappointment. When I was five, I looked down at the crayons I was coloring with and sighed—when I was two, this is not what I saw myself doing at five.
In January, my wife, a physician, met with an elderly patient. "So was Santa good to you?" she asked.
"Real good," he said. "I got an SUV."
"Yeah … Socks, Underwear, and Viagra."
An elderly man visits the doctor for a checkup. "Mr. Smith, you’re in great shape," says the doctor afterward. "How do you do it?"
"Well," says Mr. Smith, "I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and the good Lord looks out for me. For weeks now, every time I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he turns the light on for me."
Concerned, the doctor finds Mrs. Smith in the waiting room and tells her what her husband said.
"I don’t think that’s anything to worry about," she says. "And on the bright side, it does explain who’s been peeing in the fridge."
My 45-year-old sister was attending the wedding of a childhood friend when she ran into people she hadn’t seen in years. How long exactly? One of them shouted, "Kathy, you got your braces off!"
Recently I sat in a restaurant watching two older men go at it. It quickly grew heated as one of them declared, "I’m so mad, I’m taking you off my pallbearer list!"
My nine-year-old daughter walked in while I was getting ready for work. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"Putting on my wrinkle cream," I answered.
"Oh," she said, walking away. "I thought they were natural."
Our favorite museum in town displays quilts from around the country. When I visited recently, I asked the woman at the front desk about a senior discount. It wasn’t to be.
"Sir," she said, "this is a quilt museum. We give discounts to teenagers."
For her 40th birthday, my wife said, "I’d love to be ten again." So that Saturday, we had a heaping stack of chocolate-chip pancakes, her favorite childhood breakfast. Then we hit the playground and a merry-go-round. We finished the day with a banana split.
"So how did you enjoy being a kid for a day?" I asked.
"Great," she said. "But when I said I wanted to be ten again, I meant my dress size."
I was feeling pretty creaky after hearing the TV reporter say, "To contact me, go to my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or try me the old-fashioned way-e-mail."
My grandfather was sipping a beer when he confessed to me he’d drunk more than usual the day before. "What’s more than usual?" I asked.
"You can drink a case in a day?!"
"Well," he grumbled defensively, "it doesn’t take all day."
I have no respect for gangs today. They just drive by and shoot people. At least in the old days, like in West Side Story, the gangs used to dance with each other first.
My sister and I decided to reframe a favorite photograph of our mother and father from when they were dating, some 60 years ago. After removing the picture from the frame, I turned it over, hoping to find a date. I didn’t. Instead, my mother had written, "128 lbs."
"How was your blind date?"
"Terrible! He showed up in a 1932 Rolls-Royce."
"What’s so terrible about that?"
"He was the original owner."
Even at age 88, my mother was vain about her looks. At a party, an old friend exclaimed, "Edith, you haven’t changed in 20 years."
"Oh," said Mom, horrified. "I hope I didn’t look like this 20 years ago."
The biggest loser at my weight-loss club was an elderly woman. "How’d you do it?" we asked. "Easy," she said. "Every night I take my teeth out at six o’clock."
John is out with his friends and stops by his grandmother’s house for a visit. There’s a bowl of peanuts on the coffee table, and John and his friends start snacking on them. When they’re ready to leave, his friends say, "Nice to meet you, ma’am, and thank you for the peanuts." Grandma says, "You’re welcome. Ever since I lost my dentures, all I can do is suck the chocolate off of them."
I’m bald–well, balding. I like to say "balding" because it sounds more productive. And I don’t like to say I’m losing my hair, because that makes it sound like had I been more responsible, this wouldn’t have happened. "Where’s your hair?" "I lost it. You know me. Where are my keys?"
After I bought my mother a compact-disc player and some CDs, she was excited to discover she no longer needed to rewind or fast-forward tapes or move the needle on her record player.
Knowing she was not that technically astute, I called her a few days later to see how she was managing. "Fine. I listened to Shania Twain this morning," she said.
"The whole CD?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "just one side."
A nurse friend of mine took a 104-year-old patient for a walk in the hospital corridor. When she got him back to his room and sat him down, he took a deep breath and announced, "That was great! I don’t feel a day over 100!"
Her class assignment was to interview an "old person" about his life, so my niece asked me, "What was the biggest historical event that happened during your childhood?"
"I’d have to say the moonwalk," I replied.
She looked disappointed. "That dance was so important to you?"
One of my fourth graders asked my teacher’s assistant, "How old are you, Mrs. Glass?"
"You should never ask an adult’s age," I broke in.
"That’s okay," Harriett said smiling. "I’m fifty."
"Wow, you don’t look that old," the boy said. I was breathing a sigh of relief when another child chimed in, "Parts of her do."
After booking my 90-year-old mother on a flight from Florida to Nevada, I called the airline to go over her needs. The woman representative listened patiently as I requested a wheelchair and an attendant for my mother because of her arthritis and impaired vision. I also asked for a special meal and assistance in changing planes.
My apprehension lightened a bit when the woman assured me everything would be taken care of. I thanked her profusely.
"Why, you’re welcome," she replied. I was about to hang up when she cheerfully asked, "And will your mother be needing a rental car?"
I was having lunch with my daughter Rachel, who’s three, at our local mall and was feeling particularly macho for a 46-year-old. All morning, women had been smiling at me and giving me the eye.
Getting up to leave the table, I ran my fingers through my hair—and discovered two yellow-ducky barrettes that had been lovingly placed there hours before.
Visiting his parents’ retirement village in Florida, my middle-aged friend, Tim, went for a swim in the community pool while his elderly father took a walk. Tim struck up a conversation with the only other person in the pool, a five-year-old boy. After a while, Tim’s father returned from his walk and called out, "I’m ready to leave."
Tim then turned to his new friend and announced that he had to leave because his father was calling. Astonished, the wide-eyed little boy cried, "You’re a kid?"
The insurance agency I work for draws business from a retirement community. Once, when applying for auto insurance for a client, I asked him how many miles he drives in a year. He said he didn’t know.
"Well, do you drive 10,000 miles a year?" I asked, "or 5,000?"
He said the numbers sounded high. "What month is this?" he asked. I told him it was July.
"Maybe this will help," he said. "I filled the car with gas in February."
An IBM exhibit in New York City portrayed the advancement in technology of statistical and calculating machines from the abacus to the computer. After completing the tour, I stopped at the reception desk to ask a question. There, a distinguished elderly gentleman was keeping track of the number of visitors in the old tried-and-true method of drawing IIII IIII on a sheet of paper.
To my friend’s astonishment, a police car pulled up to her house and her elderly grand-father got out. The patrolman explained that the old gentleman had been lost in the city park and had asked for help.
"Why, Grandfather," my friend said, "you’ve been going there for 40 years. How could you get lost?"
The old man smiled slyly. "Wasn’t exactly lost," he admitted. "I just got tired of walking."
An attorney I know once drafted wills for an elderly husband and wife who had been somewhat apprehensive about discussing death. When they arrived to sign the documents, he ushered the couple into his office.
"Now," he said to them, "which one of you wants to go first?"
When a woman called 911 complaining of difficulty breathing, my husband, Glenn, and his partner—both EMTs—rushed to her home. Glenn placed a sensor on her finger to measure her pulse and blood oxygen. Then he began to gather her information. "What’s your age?" he asked.
"Fifty-eight," answered the patient, eyeing the beeping device on her finger. "What does that do?"
"It’s a lie detector," said Glenn with a straight face. "Now, what did you say your age was?"
"Sixty-seven," answered the woman sheepishly.
One day at the office of the orthopedic specialist I work for, we had to make arrangements for an elderly patient with spinal arthritis to have a special injection. We said we would phone him with the information.
Two days later, the patient called us, concerned that he had missed our call because of his poor hearing. "I can barely hear, barely see and barely walk," he told me.
Then he added cheerfully, "Things could be worse, though. At least I can still drive."
Just before Easter I remarked to my husband that, with the children grown and away from home, this was the first year that we hadn’t dyed eggs and had an Easter-egg hunt.
“That’s all right, honey,” he said. “We can just hide each other’s vitamin pills.”
Bob, age 92, and Mary, age 89, are all excited about their decision to get married. While out for a stroll to discuss the wedding they pass a drugstore. Bob suggests they go in.
Bob asks to speak to the pharmacist. He explains they’re about to get married, and asks, "Do you sell heart medication?"
"Of course we do," the pharmacist replies.
"Medicine for rheumatism?"
"Definitely," he says.
"How about Viagra?"
"Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, jaundice?"
"Yes, the works."
"What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antacids?"
"Do you sell wheelchairs and walkers?"
"All speeds and sizes."
"Good," Bob says to the pharmacist. "We’d like to register for our wedding gifts here, please."
For years my sister’s husband tried unsuccessfully to persuade her to get a hearing aid. "How much do they cost?" she asked one day after he had pitched the idea to her again.
"They’re usually about $3,000," he said.
"Okay, well, if you say something worth $3,000," she replied, "I’ll get one."
My 60-year-old mother-in-law, completing two years of wearing orthodontic braces, was in the office having them adjusted. As she sat in one of the waiting- room chairs, the teenager next to her looked at my mother-in-law in astonishment. "Wow," he said. "How long have you been coming here?"
My diminutive aunt Flora, just four feet, nine inches tall, accepted an offer to visit a health club for a free session. After being greeted heartily, she was shown where she could change and told an instructor would soon be with her.
Having changed her clothes, Aunt Flora went back to the exercise area. Along one wall she noticed a silver bar that was not in use, and decided to try her hand at chin-ups while she waited. She jumped up, barely reaching the bar, and managed to strain through two chin-ups before the instructor came to her side.
Smiling politely, the instructor said, "If you want to let go of the coat rack and follow me, I’ll be glad to help you get started."
Rock concerts are a little different now than when I was younger. Recently, I went to a concert with some friends. As the band started to play a ballad, we instinctively raised our cigarette lighters, like all good rock fans I grew up with. But looking around me, I noticed that times had indeed changed.
The mostly under-25 crowd was swaying to the upraised glow of their cell phones.
Checking out of the grocery store, I noticed the bag boy eyeing my two adopted children. They often draw scrutiny, since my son’s a blond Russian, while my daughter has shiny black Haitian skin.
The boy continued staring as he carried our groceries to the car. Finally he asked, "Those your kids?"
"They sure are," I said with pride.
"Yes," I replied.
"I thought so," he concluded. "I figured you’re too old to have kids that small."
I was having trouble with the idea of turning thirty and was oversensitive to any signs of advancing age. When I found a prominent gray hair in my bangs, I pointed to my forehead.
"Have you seen this?" I indignantly asked my husband.
"What?" he asked. "The wrinkles?"
Turning 50 two years ago, I took a lot of good-natured ribbing from family and friends. So as my wife’s 50th birthday approached, I decided to get in some needling of my own. I sat her down, looked deep into her eyes, then said I had never made love to anyone who was over 50 years old.
"Oh, well, I have," she deadpanned. "It’s not that great."
I was turning 40 and decided to celebrate by fulfilling my longtime dream to go sky-diving. Before the jump, my mother and I spent the day at a festival, where we bumped into two of my cousins. They inquired about my upcoming birthday, and when I told them about my jump from 10,000 feet, I could tell they were a bit mystified.
Finally one of them remarked, "Why don’t you just get your breasts done like everyone else?"
Heading off to college at the age of 40, I was a bit self-conscious about my advancing years. One morning I complained to my husband that I was the oldest student in my class.
"Even the teacher is younger than I am," I said.
"Yeah, but look at it from my point of view," he said optimistically. "I thought my days of fooling around with college girls were over."
I had been thinking about coloring my hair. One day while going through a magazine, I came across an ad for a hair-coloring product featuring a beautiful young model with hair a shade that I liked. Wanting a second opinion, I asked my husband, "How do you think this color would look on a face with a few wrinkles?"
He looked at the picture, crumpled it up, straightened it out and studied it again. "Just great, hon."
My husband was bending over to tie my three-year-old’s shoes. That’s when I noticed my son, Ben, staring at my husband’s head.
He gently touched the slightly thinning spot of hair and said in a concerned voice, "Daddy, you have a hole in your head. Does it hurt?"
After a pause, I heard my husband’s murmured reply: "Not physically."
Jim, my 40-something husband, was playing basketball with friends his age. "Pretty soon," said one of his teammates, "we’ll have to count it as a basket if the ball just hits the rim."
"Yeah," Jim agreed. "It’s scary when you have to look through the bottom part of your bifocals to shoot layups and the top part on jump shots."
At his 103rd birthday party, my grandfather was asked if he thought that he’d be around for his 104th.
"I certainly do," he replied. "Statistics show that very few people die between the ages of 103 and 104."
Having fought the battle of the bulge most of my life, I found the battle getting even harder as I approached middle age. One evening, after trying on slacks that were too tight, I said to my husband, "I’ll be so glad when we become grandparents. After all, who cares if grandmothers are fat?"
His prompt reply: "Grandfathers."
To celebrate his 40th birthday, my boss, who is battling middle-age spread, bought a new convertible sports car. As a finishing touch, he put on a vanity plate with the inscription "18 Again." The wind was let out of his sails, however, when a salesman entered our office the following week.
"Hey," he called out, "who owns the car with the plate ‘I ate again’?"
Because they had no reservations at a busy restaurant, my elderly neighbor and his wife were told there would be a 45-minute wait for a table.
"Young man, we’re both 90 years old," he told the maitre d’. "We may not have 45 minutes."
They were seated immediately.
I was with my husband at a baseball game in Boston’s Fenway Park when I decided to go get myself a hot dog. As I stood up my husband asked me to buy him a beer. The young clerk at the concession stand asked to see verification of age.
"You’ve got to be kidding," I said. "I’m almost 40 years old." He apologized, but said he had to insist. When I showed him my license, the clerk served me the beer. "That will be $4.25."
I gave him $5 and told him to keep the change. "The tip’s for carding me," I said.
He put the change in the tip cup. "Thanks," he said. "Works every time."
My husband, a big-time sports fan, was watching a football game with our grandchildren. He had just turned 75 and was feeling a little wistful. "You know," he said to our grandson, Nick, "it’s not easy getting old. I guess I’m in the fourth quarter now."
"Don’t worry, Grandpa," Nick said cheerily. "Maybe you’ll go into overtime."
My grandfather has a knack for looking on the bright side of life. Even after receiving the terrible diagnosis that he had Alzheimer’s, he was philosophical.
"There’s one good thing that’ll come from this," he told my father.
"What’s that?" asked Dad.
"Now I can hide my own Easter eggs."
Fans of ’60s music, my 14-year-old daughter and her best friend got front-row tickets to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert. When they returned home, my daughter said, "During the show, we looked back and saw hundreds of little lights swaying to the music. At first we thought the people were holding up cigarette lighters. Then we realized that the lights were the reflections off all the eyeglasses in the audience."
I had just had my 50th birthday and found the decade marker traumatic. When I went to get my driver’s license renewed, a matter-of-fact woman typed out the information, tested my vision, snapped the camera and handed me a laminated card with my picture on it.
"You mean I have to look at this for the next four years?" I jokingly said to her.
"Don’t worry about it," she replied. "In four years it’ll look good to you."
Curious when I found two black-and-white negatives in a drawer, I had them made into prints. I was pleasantly surprised to see they were of a younger, slimmer me taken on one of my first dates with my husband.
When I showed him the photographs, his face lit up. "Wow! It’s my old Plymouth."
Just as she was celebrating her 80th birthday, our friend received a jury-duty notice. She called to remind the people at the clerk’s office that she was exempt because of her age.
"You need to come in and fill out the exemption forms," they said.
"I’ve already done that," replied my friend. "I did it last year."
"You have to do it every year," she was told.
"Why?" came the response. "Do you think I’m going to get younger?"
Now that I’m over 40, younger teammates have begun to tease me about my declining abilities as a softball player. During one game, I was playing third base when a batter ripped a shot over my head. I leapt as high as I could, but the ball tipped off the end of my glove and fell safely for a hit.
At the end of the inning, I was heading for the dugout when our left fielder caught up with me. "That much!" he called, holding his thumb and forefinger a couple of inches apart.
"I know," I replied. "I almost had it."
"No," he said. "I mean that’s how far you got off the ground."
Our dear friend Trudy attended my husband’s birthday party. Though she’s been through a lot—including a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery—Trudy was the life of the party as usual. Hugging her good-bye, I couldn’t help noticing she had nothing on under her blouse.
"Trudy, you’re not wearing a bra!" I whispered.
With a twinkle in her eye she replied, "I may be 70, honey, but they’re only 15."
For my grandmother’s 80th birthday, we had a huge family celebration and even managed to get a photo announcement printed in the local paper. "That was a nice shot," I commented.
"It’s my passport picture," she revealed.
"Really?" I stared in amazement at my homebody grandma. "Where did you go?"
"Walgreens," she replied.
My 20th high-school class reunion was held at a hotel on the same night that another school’s tenth-year reunion was taking place. While my friends and I were in the rest room talking, some unfamiliar women entered.
After their stares became uncomfortable, we turned toward them. One of the women said, "Don’t mind us. We just wanted to see how we’d look in another ten years."
My brother and his wife started their family in their early 40s. One day my sister-in-law and I were commiserating about the effects of time marching on.
"I just got my first pair of glasses," she said, and paused as her two preschool boys thundered past her. "Now, if only my hearing would go."
I was having lunch with several thirty-something friends when talk turned to the dismal prospect of our growing older.
"Well, judging by my mother," I said, "at least my hearing will improve. My mother can hear my biological clock ticking from 200 miles away."
The summer after college graduation, I was living at home, fishing in the daytime, spending nights with my friends—generally just hanging out. One afternoon my grandfather, who never went to college, stopped by.
Concerned with how I was spending my time, he asked about my future plans. I told him I was in no hurry to tie myself down to a career.
"Well," he replied, "you better start thinking about it. You’ll be thirty before you know it."
"But I’m closer to twenty than to thirty," I protested. "I won’t be thirty for eight more years."
"I see," he said, smiling. "And when will you be twenty again?"
My husband and I, married 13 years, were dressing for a party. I’d spent all day getting a haircut and permanent, then as we were leaving, we met in the hall and he said nothing. I complained that he had not even noticed my hair. "You used to pay attention to every little thing, and now you don’t notice anything! You take me for granted!"
My husband stood there rubbing his face as he let me rant and rave. Then it hit me: He’d shaved off his six-month-old beard.
After working for months to get in shape, my 42-year-old husband and I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. At the end of two grueling days, we made it back to the canyon’s rim. To celebrate, we each bought an "I hiked the canyon" T-shirt.
About a month later, while my husband was wearing his shirt, a young man approached him. "Did you really hike the canyon?" he asked.
My husband beamed with pride and answered, "Sure did!"
"No kidding!" the fellow said. "What year?"
A few years ago, I opened the invitation to my cousin’s 100th birthday party. On the front—in bold letters—it screamed, "If he’s heard it once, he’s heard it a hundred times. Happy Birthday, Sam!"
When a woman I know turned 99 years old, I went to her birthday party and took some photos. A few days later, I brought the whole batch of prints to her so she could choose her favorite.
"Good Lord," she said as she was flipping through them, "I look like I’m a hundred."
One of the English classes I taught at Deltona high school in Florida consisted of a particularly well-motivated group of juniors. Students felt free to ask questions on any subject that concerned them.
One afternoon a girl raised her hand and asked me to explain all the talk about a woman’s "biological clock." After I’d finished, there was a moment of silence, and then another hand shot up.
"Mrs. Woodard," a student asked, "is your clock still ticking, or has the alarm gone off?"
Out bicycling one day with my eight-year-old granddaughter, Carolyn, I got a little wistful. "In ten years," I said, "you’ll want to be with your friends and you won’t go walking, biking, and swimming with me like you do now."
Carolyn shrugged. "In ten years you’ll be too old to do all those things anyway."
I had laryngitis and finally decided to go to the doctor. After the nurse called for me, she asked my age. "Forty-nine," I whispered.
"Don’t worry," she whispered back. "I won’t tell anyone."
During the last days of my mother’s life, we discussed many things. One day I raised the topic of her funeral and memorial service.
"Oh, honey," she responded, "I really don’t care about the details."
Later she woke from a nap and grasped my hand, clearly wanting to share something with me. As I leaned forward, she said urgently, "Just don’t bury me in plaid."
After a shopping expedition, my friend Gina and I stopped in a local bar for a drink. We hadn’t been seated long when she leaned over and said that four young men at the next table were watching us. Since we’re both thirty-something, married with children, we found the situation flattering. We sat a little straighter and tried to look slimmer and younger.
In a few minutes, one of the men got up and came toward our table. "Excuse me," he said. Then he reached over our heads to turn up the volume on the televised ball game.
While on maternity leave, a woman from our office brought in her new bundle of joy. She also had her seven-year-old son with her. Everyone gathered around the baby, and the little boy asked, "Mommy, can I have some money to buy a soda?"
"What do you say?" she said.
Respectfully, the boy replied, "You’re thin and beautiful."
The woman reached in her purse and gave her son the money.
We invited some old friends to help celebrate my 40th birthday. My husband went out to buy a gift, and he saw some cute little music boxes. A blue one was playing "Happy Birthday to You." Thinking they were all the same, he picked up a red one and asked the clerk to have it gift-wrapped.
When we sat down to dinner, he gave it to me, asked me to open it and— surprise—out came the tune to "The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be."
My hearing had gotten worse, and ultimately I was faced with a decision: buy a pontoon boat, which I could enjoy all summer, or get a hearing aid. The choice was obvious—to me at least. However, my sisters did not approve of the boat.
One day during lunch with them, I was having trouble following the conversation. Finally I leaned over to one of my sisters and asked what had just been said.
"You should have brought along your pontoon boat," she replied
While my friend Emily was visiting her mother, they went for a walk and bumped into an old family acquaintance. "Is this your daughter?" the woman asked. "Oh, I remember her when she was this high. How old is she now?"
Without pausing, Emily’s mother said, "Twenty-four." Emily, 35, nearly fainted on the spot.
After everyone had said their good-byes, Emily asked her mother why she’d told such a whopper.
"Well," she replied, "I’ve been lying about my age for so long, it suddenly dawned on me that I’d have to start lying about yours too."