I stood in line at the country market yesterday behind a smart-looking elderly couple, well into their eighties. They nattered a little between them about correct change at the till, but I didn’t pay much attention. They were slow-moving enough that I’d finished checking out my $65 of produce and still caught up to them at the door. For a change, I wasn’t running late, so I didn’t bother side stepping ahead of them to get in front, I just hung back and watched as they walked together.
He was a dapper old guy – grey flannel hat and a navy sports coat, nice – if not dependable – shoes. She was put together nicely too: lovely senior-style blue pantsuit ensemble and freshly hair-do’d hair. Lipstick, earrings, the works. They were a couple who looked like they had a nice life, and I guess because both were completely white haired and wrinkled and were so matchy-matchy with the outfits, they looked like they’d been together forever. You couldn’t miss his impeccable manners either (something our generation and those after us have completely lost by the way). He stepped on the door mat to open the automatics, but let her step outside first. He held two bags of groceries, her purse and her arm as she walked. She held her tongue – not.
The minute she got outside into the gorgeous sunny fall day, she said, “I wish you’d remembered my shawl.” (to which he just nodded)
“Look at that,” she said, pointing towards an empty spot in the lot directly in front of the market entrance. “You could have got a perfect spot, right at the door.” She shook her head and tut-tutted and shook her head some more. They walked to a spot beside my van – which was just three spots over from the perfect spot. He helped her into the car first, handed over her purse, and put the groceries in the trunk before getting into the driver’s seat. He hadn’t said a word. She hadn’t stopped – not even when she sat alone in the car and he was loading up the trunk. She sat pulling her jacket lapels closer to her neck, crabbing away and shaking her head, as if to say “you are soooo annoying”.
And I had to chuckle a little, because I see it everywhere –but it’s just so amplified when you are watching it with little old people. It’s like a scary glimpse into the future, so I said to myself – No way. No way am I going to be the nattering old lady, bitching away at my old guy who’s just trying to do the right thing. No way. No how.
And then it hit me.
Last Monday I had to take Sam for a follow-up at the doctor. I was already there sitting in the crammed-full waiting room when my husband Will came up to the office door. He’d left work early so he could be there for the appointment with us. I watched him though the full glass door – still in his suit from work – looking rushed, probably panicked that he had missed us (instead of just missing the 25 minute wait). When he got to the door he turned the handle a few times and then met my eyes and shrugged a little. He tried the door again and gave me a look – a “can you help me out here?” look. But it’s not like his hands were full, or it was some key code door, it was just a door with a regular doorknob that he had to turn and push open. By the time he gave it a third rattle, a woman across from me asked, “Can’t he get in?”
“Oh, I don’t know what the heck he’s doing.” I said. And both she and I started to get up to let him in. She sat back down, and I walked over, opened the door and announced to my husband, “It’s not locked, you know.”
“Oh, it isn’t?”
“No,” I scoffed and shook my head in that way that says “you are soooo annoying”.
I looked up and saw a roomful of eyes on me, and realized that the crowd very likely thought I had just been super crabby to some poor schmuck that just came in for a flu shot or something.
“Oh – he’s my husband. It’s not like I’d talk to some stranger like that,” I said without realizing what I was saying. To which we all chuckled.
Egads ! I better not start wearing pantsuits.