Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rated Oh! for Old People

Where Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped their bedroll
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
To the old folks home and the college - from "Tombstone Blues", Bob Dylan, 1965

Youth and Age - Me and my Dad many years ago! 
My mother misled me.  "The worst thing about growing old," she told me, "is that your toenails turn yellow."

What a thought!  Mine aren't yellow yet though. Perhaps when THAT happens I'll agree that it's the worst thing. But not now.

I have a whole heap of worst things about growing old.

People saying I look like Maggie Smith is just one of them.

And people thinking I have possibly left this world!

Last weekend I went to my favorite brunch place - Zebu Grill. They make the best eggs benedict. I went with a book. When I first came to New York I imagined I'd make heaps of friends and have a busy social life, just like I'd had in Melbourne. That was before I knew that Americans - or is it just New Yorkers - aren't so much into friends. So I brunch alone with a book for company.

I generally go to the Zebu Grill every weekend, but I'd missed the week before. When I got up to leave the waiter said, "You weren't here last weekend? The waiter who is generally on in the weekends noticed, and asked if I'd seen you. He was concerned."

What did he mean? And then I realized.

Yikes! I went pale. He'd thought I'd carked it. Passed on, ceased to be, expired. Surely I didn't look THAT old. The feeling of enjoyment I'd had from the eggs benedict and my book, "Bring Up the Bodies"  died.  The very title of the book evoked death. The world turned gray.

Is this indicative of a new phase where people see me as something akin to the John Cleese parrot? Another worst thing! Even worse than being compared to Maggie Smith!

I am so sensitized to growing old, so obsessed, that I experience its awfulness when it isn't even there. Walking back from shopping last Sunday,  I noticed the poster on the left in the window of a laundromat. What did it mean? Where was the name of the show? I stopped, transfixed.

I must have read it through three times trying to figure out the name of the play, before giving up and assuming I was losing it. Aging had done me in! I could no longer make sense of a Broadway poster.

Perhaps what I hate most about growing old is losing the ability and the chance to redefine oneself. To imagine a different self. In my younger days I'd think things like, "I am going to change and be a neat person." Or "I am going to be more tolerant and cheerful".  Now I'm just me and stuck with it! Nothing's going to change. I've been me too long for any significant change to happen. So boring!

A bored Maggie Smith. Scary. What could be worse?

And back on the topic of Ms Smith ... I had quite a bit of feedback to my post, I Ain't Gonna Be Maggie Smith No More. Most people felt I should be honored at being told I was like her. "Such a wonderful actress", I was told by several friends. ASIF people thought I was like her for my acting ability. Clearly I was like her because of the nasty characters she played. Or her looks.  My uncle emailed, commenting on Maggie - "As my old man would have said : 'a face like a pound of tripe'". Charming!  It has not been my week!

There's not much worse than looking like Maggie Smith, having no dreams for the future,  not understanding Broadway posters, and having waiters thinking you've died when you don't have brunch one Saturday.

Unless it  is perhaps the color of one's toenails.

I daren't look ....


Anonymous said...

Had to laugh! Always enjoy your double edged laughter and pathos. You made my day!

Vanessa said...


Great prose. You are NOT Boring.

You do not look like Maggie Smith, everyone can have dreams for the future, Broadway doesn't understand their posters either, and, I said it before, you have terrible experiences with waiters.

So cheer up, cause it could be worse. You could get carded : )

Lesley said...

Testing, 1, 2, 3. Is this thing on? Kate. Lesley. Now I council presidents
Dear, so I'm not going to tolerate this nonsense. You are not old. If you want to change your life, change your life. Be thankful it's not underwear
or someone might have noticed by now. The face is but the bulb that
God (actually it's Goddess but we won't address that issue right now,
they're a team you know, yes She's the smarter one. But He's good to
have around isn't He. Well She seems to think so, Dear) put each of
our lights in. I believe he got the idea from Edison. "works better
when you put a bulb around it" were, it is reported, Thom's exact
words when asked on the matter. Where was I before all this gibberish?

It's all what you do. It's all what you dream.
In other words, Kate, you define you. Only, people forget that it is
themselves, who defines them. So someone, possibly a famous yahoo
known for famous yahooery, has to come along and say, okay love,
that's quite enough of that. Consider this as having now been said.

You're f***ing awesome, Kate. And that's not just the centuries talking.
Oh I've been here before Dear many times I'm afraid. Quite sick of it.
But I seem to be important so I stick around. Stick around Kate.
This is the time of magic things. It is, I assure you, because I
will otherwise break its obstreperous f***ing neck, there it is, I said it,
I meant it, don't call my publicist, I do not take it back.

Do not go lamely into that absolute bullshit night, for any surrender
to mediocrity, is worse than being a slave to f***ing time isn't it.
Smashing one's watch, only points in the direction. The real point is,

what does one do with their time? I always, despite being so prolific
my published songs number up into thousand and.. I always try,
to hit at it fresh, you know? "Okay you bastard, now I'm really pissed."

You are not old. I'm so much f***ing older than you, that truly Kate,
if you only knew, you'd feel a bit foolish Dear. But that's neither here
nor there, because I feel foolish enough for the both of us, trust me.

And yet, here I am, still at it. You're done when I say you're done.
You're Young. Dammit. That's an order. Well I did say I advise presidents
and there might be a word limit Van said. Hush it, self. ~L

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