My mom has a healthy outlook on growing older: “Nothing good about it!” Okay, so we may lose bone density, hair, mobility, the ability to apply lipstick within a five-inch radius of our actual mouths… but, as I learned from my recent trip back home with my parents, we also gain something valuable with age:
Carte blanche to act bat-shit crazy.
It’s true. My parents have gone completely nuts. And, most fascinatingly of all, they know it and could not possibly care any less. Armed with their Senior Citizen Cards, they not only enjoy 10 percent off their Crunchy Onion Rings at Applebee’s, they also are bestowed with an “I don’t give a flying f*ck what anyone thinks”-type attitude.
I am, to be quite honest, jealous.
My dad has taken to reading useless bits of trivia from the local newspaper: “Did you know a hundred people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year?” Why, yes, Dad, I believe you read that to us yesterday — but he doesn’t care. Dad merely cranks up the volume and talks over me, once AGAIN repeating the tragic story of the foreman at the paper plant who fatally tripped with a four-color Bic in his mouth.
Poor guy was probably running away from his father, who insisted on reading that day’s Farmer’s Almanac weather prediction to him. Again.
My parents, Mr. Candy and I frequented the new grocery store in town — a lovely, sprawling place, I must admit — where my mom claims she “gets all the exercise she needs” because she has to walk across five whole aisles to reach the deli counter. When I roll my eyes, my mom just laughs and tells me to “shut the hell up!”
I can only hope to have Mom’s gentle maternal approach with my own daughter.
But that’s not what made me briefly consider calling upon the help of a Senior Citizen Whisperer. Oh no. As we sit down to dig into a pizza in the grocery store’s cafe (we needed some sustenance after walking ALL the way from the fruit stand), my mom reaches into her purse… and unwraps a towel filled with her own utensils and pizza cutter. Dear god.
“Um, Mom? The pizza’s already cut. And they gave us plastic forks and knives; they’re actually pretty nice…”
Mom just continues to wipe the phantom lint from her pizza cutter.
“I like using my own utensils,” she snipes, head up in the air.
“But it’s silly –”
“I LIKE THINGS THE WAY I LIKE THEM, OKAY?”
Well, I can hardly argue with that. Not that I could ever win, anyway — Dad would undoubtedly shoot me down by reaching into his ever-growing arsenal of fascinating facts:
“Did you know a thousand people die from contaminated plastic utensils every year?”
Why, NO, Dad, I did not! Tell me more. (See? I’m learning.)