Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Life in 2011

I'd like to take credit for this one, but it would not be ethical. I rarely send jokes on, but this was one I wanted to share with all of my readers. 

1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

4. You e-mail and text the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail or text addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries...

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12 You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy reading to notice there was no #9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa Cellophane

Warning: unlike my light blogs, this one weighs a ton

“My husband and I sat at the holiday table, surrounded by all of our loved ones—our kids, our grandkids—you’d think we’d be in seventh heaven,” my friend confided to me. “But it was awful.”

I could understand my friend’s family’s behavior if she and her husband’s personalities were toxic. Miserable and bitter seniors are understandably rarely visited by their family and/or have been deleted from speed dial by most of their once friends. But this couple has a slew of lifetime friends, and rarely have a trace of toxicity in their conversation.

My friend continued. “We felt as if we were watching TV. The cousins talked to each other, and my kids talked to each other, but we felt like that song, Mr. Cellophane.”

“I don’t believe you just sat at the table silently,” I said.

“We didn’t. After tickling each other under the table, we sang nursery rhymes softly to each other to prove that it wasn’t our imagination that we were being ignored.”


“Not one head turned our way,” she said in a barely audible voice.

“Look at the upside,” I said. “Your kids were talking not texting.”

My friend’s story came on the heels of a request from a reader for me to write a blog about how the older people get in this country, unlike other cultures where seniors are revered, we to often become part of the wallpaper when the room is filled with people younger than we are. My reader added, “I had a lovely aunt who always cautioned us, as we got older, that it was important for the elderly to be ‘neat, at all times’—not to really worry about what clothes were being worn because we're invisible to the rest of the world—relegated to the back of the bus. Just be neat and don't speak too much because no one wants to hear what you have to say, because…what do we know?”

When it comes to formal seating arrangements or having dinner parties, my rule has always been that each person has to have something in common with one other person or the table will be a disaster. Be it a 10-year old or an 80-year old, they need someone who WANTS to talk to them. If the 10-year old has no playmate, he or she will probably have some sort of electronic gadget to keep him or her occupied. But what is the only 80-year old relative in the room do when their middle-aged hosts are clueless that they are ignoring him or her?

I have spent one month trying to write this blog since I received the request, trying to put a humorous spin, find a punch line, but every time I think I’m done, I hit “delete.” First I tried the theme, “be happy and sit back and enjoy your offspring, Be happy they’re happy,” but whose kidding who? Few people of any age enjoy being a spectator for hours unless they are watching a movie or show.

For a few blogs I focused on how unless you are on Facebook with family, you are out of the loop. I wrote about an editor of a magazine who wrote how guilty she felt when a favorite aunt died. The writer said it had been over five years since she made time in her life to contact the person. Hubby didn’t like this blog because it was too preachy and bitter.

With that bitter blog gone, I then focused on all the details of how a glamorous, middle-aged stranger sat with her back to me when we were seated next to each other at a recent party. All through dinner, I had to resist the urge to tap her on her shoulder, introduce myself, and lie. I fantasized telling her either that I was her boss’s Mom or someone old and famous. I imagined her being mortified when I would sarcastically tell her it was a pleasure to talk with her. I chickened out for fear I might unintentionally burn a bridge—she may be a nurse or doctor in our local hospital’s emergency room.

So, I will pose the question to my readers. What should very “with it” Gram and/or Gramps do if they find themselves “wallpaper” at family gatherings? We know the main character in Water for Elephants ran away from his nursing home to join the circus, but that option is not out there for most Mr. /Mrs. Cellophane family elders.