She said WHAT?!?Posted: July 8, 2011
One of the hallmarks of being halfway 2 dead is that your brain loses its grip on your tongue. The filters begin to fray. The first little tear in the filter is when you begin talking out loud to yourself in public. We are fortunate enough to be aging in the age of cellphones so people no longer think twice when they see or hear someone talking to themself because they just assume that person is talking on a concealed cellphone.
(The worst case of this scenario, however, is that you can walk into a public bathroom and only one stall door is closed and there will be someone yakking away in there and you realize they are talking on their cellphone while they’re on the toilet. I always go into the stall next to this person and flush the toilet about 14 times just to let the person on the other end of the phone know how lowly they rank on the totem pole of Respect. It ends up being a draw, though, because when Cellphone Sally and I both emerge from our stalls and meet at the sinks, I look at her like she’s disgusting and she looks at me like I have diarrhea.)
The next rip in the filter is when – without thinking — you start saying what you really think. It is no longer unusual for me to receive an e-mail from a friend apologizing or expressing dismay over a remark they made that “just popped out.”
But I have seen glimpses of the future and I know where this could be headed. What I am trying to figure out is how to prevent it.
I have two quite older women friends who have said things to me during our conversations that were shocking in their honesty
First there’s 83-year-old Grace who was being brought down by lung cancer.
For as long as I’ve known her, Grace has always been a lady. Smart, elegant….classy. Not prim and proper but reserved in her commentary. Toward the end of her life, though, she began throwing me curveballs.
One day we were discussing the improbably long-lasting marriage of a mutual – albeit difficult – friend. I commented, “I don’t know what her husband sees in her. I would have thought they’d have been divorced by now.”
There was a pause before Grace – looking up at me from her wheelchair with those beautiful clear eyes of hers – replied thoughtfully, “Well…. maybe she gives good head.”
I couldn’t have been more surprised if the words came out of the hairbrush I was holding.
“GRACE!” I exclaimed.
Grace looked at me sagely. “I don’t really know what that means,” she admitted . “But I think it applies in this situation.”
Talk about words of wisdom! I regretted all the years we wasted talking politics.
Then there’s my 76-year-old friend Marie, a widow who was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Marie is a genuine eccentric – in the dictionary sense of the word — with both endearing and maddening childlike qualities. She only wears floor length muumuus (moo-moo’s!) and has a closet full of them. She only wears a slip underneath her muumuu…..no bra for her Guiness-Book-of-World-Record-size boobs and no underpants. Lest you think I’m being a disloyal Big Mouth friend here, let me reassure you that white-haired Marie will share these same facts with other people, including strangers, without any embarrassment. She also wears huge white glasses with pink or purple-tinted glass in them. When Marie walks into a room, everyone notices her. In the parlance of show biz, she has ‘presence.’
I accompanied Marie to the hospital for a CT scan, and she was given two large cups of contrast material to drink. She did NOT like the taste of the contrast material.
“UGH!” she said after taking the first sip. “This is TERRIBLE! I can’t drink two cups of this stuff!”
Other people in the small, crowded waiting room nodded understandingly. I did my best to cheerlead her on, but even I was aware of how flimsy my efforts sounded. What if someone made me drink two cups of mushroom juice? Marie gave me a “I know you’re trying to help, but just shut-up” look.
After yet another tortuous sip, she said, “You know what this stuff tastes like?”
Because there was no such a thing as a private conversation in this small room, we all looked at her, waiting for her answer. I expected her to say, “It tastes like shit!” because that’s something Marie would say without blinking in public.
Instead, Marie said, “It tastes like COME!”
The only sound in that room was a whooshing sound as everyone’s jaw dropped into their lap, and averted their eyes. And still Marie didn’t stop.
“I just never got on to the taste of that stuff,” she told us, shaking her head.
All I could think of – but didn’t dare say – was, “You eat quail eggs and eel and cow’s tongue, and you think SEMEN tastes weird?”
These comments were outside of Marie’s verrrrrry generous sense of what’s appropriate. And that makes me nervous.
We all know about the “dirty old man” syndrome in which men who are quite, quite old revert back to adolescent levels of sexual humor. It’s a weary sense of humor at best and pathetic at its worst. But very old women, I’ve noticed, come up with these thoughts and insights on sex that blow your doors off with their freshness. It’s as if the observant little elf who has crouched inside of them for all of these years is finally springing out of the box.
And this makes me wonder what kind of little person is biding its time within me. I guess that will be my next book. To be written after my family disinherits me for this one.
– Marci Crestani