Friday, December 10, 2010

Old People

"Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you." ~ Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)

Cool old people. I know, right? Sounds ridiculous. But they do exist. Really! I know most of them, so don't go searching your local retirement village to find some, because you probably won't be successful. Anyway. Cool old people.

So two days ago, I got a call from (you guessed it) an old person who happens to be a dear family friend. She offered me $40 to help her help a friend (another old person) clean out her garage/storage unit and get rid of some of her deadbeat son's stuff. I accepted. Prior to heading over to help, I stopped at my Uncle John's house. Technically, he's my Great-Uncle. Technically, he's not related to me at all. He was my grandfather's best friend, and after my Opa died, he pretty much stepped in as the grandfather for my enormous family. He's done an excellent job. So I stopped by (it was on the way) to say hi and pick up some things he had for my mom. We wound up sitting on his back porch for an hour drinking iced tea, red wine (not together, ew) and talking about this year's crop of oranges. Because he has a citrus grove in his backyard. Not kidding. I've never purchased oranges. In my life. I've always just walked up the street and picked some.

Anywho, my Uncle John started telling me all this stuff about his Navy days back in WWII, and showed me this really cool carved ivory ball he bought in Japan. We started talking more and he told me more stories and all that jazz and I realized how cool he is. He's like, 82 years old. And still rockin' awesome.

So I went over to see Ms. Paula to help her friend. Now, Ms. Paula is technically Mrs. Baker, but when I was little, she was my dance teacher. She taught my sisters to dance. She's teaching my niece to dance. No little girl in a 5 mile radius of my small town that dances hasn't gone through Ms. Paula's class at least once in her lifetime. So basically, all of them know her. Her friend introduced herself as Ellen, and Ellen grew up in the 40s (like my Uncle John). She didn't catch my name very clearly so she called me "Doll" all afternoon. But you know how old people have a tendency to talk like old people? You know what I mean... But it sounded really cute coming from her. I like the endearments of the elderly. Unless they're hard of hearing. That just irritates me. They need to find a way to just give people new ears or something.

But then I started thinking about my Oma, who is seriously one of the coolest old people in the world. She has 22 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, 8 kids, and has taken care of ALL of us at one point or another. Ever December, she spends the entire month (and often the months before) prepping for Christmas. She bakes, cooks, stirs, sifts, wraps, and basically makes Christmas for us. But she lets me come over and hang out and knit with her and generally get underfoot whenever I like and loves to watch Perry Mason reruns with me. Frankly, I hate Perry Mason, but don't tell her that. She gives me free chocolate so let's not ruin that.

I guess what I'm saying is that old people really are cooler than we think. Sure, a lot of them are crotchety and mean, but there are quite a few gems in the mix, too. Granted, I know most of them so the odds are stacked against you but still. Go find an old person, bake them cookies, and ask for some stories. You'd be surprised at some of the stuff you might find out.

And the quote at the top is impossibly true. But so many young people (given that I, too, am technically "young") don't talk to old people to get their stories to write about them. Fix it.

'Til next time,

Love all, trust few, do wrong to no one. ~ William Shakespeare


PS: Today's objective:
Train my niece to act like Reptar from Rugrats and stomp around the house roaring. To test this, we are going to the mall.

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