Standing at Macy's jewelry counter, I was having a difficult time making a decision. A saleswoman, recognizing the look of confusion on my face, asked if I needed assistance.
"I'd like to buy a gift for a special friend," I said, as I surveyed the enticing array of gold bangles, brooches and earring.
"How old is your friend?" asked the perky, size six, twenty-something redhead.
"She'll be celebrating her sixty-third birthday," I answered.
"Oh," she frowned, "then perhaps you should consider a comfy flannel nighty or a floral house dress. They love to walk around the house wearing those things."
They? Around the house? Those things?
I had all I could do to keep from slapping her wrinkle-free face. Where on earth did she get such a distorted concept of older women? I, personally, do not have a single female friend who wears floral house dresses or hangs out around the house. They're all vibrant women, involved in life, who actually leave their homes to shop, attend classes, play tennis and work out at the gym -- in spandex.
Another recent unsavory memory occurred while I was pushing my cart through the supermarket. I'd just had my hair and nails done and was feeling pretty darn good about myself. Walking neck and neck with me was a handsome dark-haired man, perhaps in his early forties. He smiled broadly, prompting playful feelings to stir within me, so I fluttered my eye lashes and flashed him a flirtatious grin.
With a twinkling smile he asked, "Excuse me ma'am, do you know where I can find the laundry detergent?"
Ma'am? Did he say Ma'am?
Talk about crashing smack into reality. My fanciful thoughts were instantly dashed.
I was at a wedding, cutting a rug with my man of the hour. There we were, feeling chipper, limber, and dancing to the beat of Donna Sommer's fast paced disco number, "Hot Stuff."
At the end of the dance a teenaged girl ran up to us with a huge, condescending smile.
"You two are absolutely adorable," she said. "I hope I have your energy and spirit when I'm your age."
Adorable? Your age?"
Poof! The bubble burst as my date and I stared blankly at each other and were suddenly aware that we were not as young as we felt.
When, exactly, did I become the old person that others perceive me as? One moment I was young, the next I was mature and the very next I was ancient. Somehow I missed each transition.
Sure, there are certain occurrences I've observed that indicate the passing of time, but only a few. For instance I've noticed that authoritative people, such as policemen, teachers and presidents, are being hired and elected at a considerably younger age today than they were years ago. And, street signs and reading material in general are written in smaller print than they use to be. Also, clothing sizes are no longer accurate; they're made much skimpier.
In my heart and in my mind I am the very same person who drew chalk marks on the playground macadam in preparation for a game of hopscotch with Mary Lou and Nancy. My wonder and excited anticipation of the unexpected have not diminished one iota since the days of waiting for my prom date to arrive, or for the impending birth of each of my children.
Why are my exterior signs of time often viewed with disdain, intolerance and indifference? I'm the same person I was when I wore a younger body.
I think it's only fair to warn you that this spirited senior will never be found wearing comfy flannel nighties, floral house dresses or hanging out around the house. You'll find her instead, at the playground playing hopscotch with her grandchildren, while the sunlight bounces off of her large, gold, hooped earrings.