Saturday, February 11, 2012

Politics Aside . . .

I try to keep most of my political opinions on Facebook and that's where I discovered a link to Margaret and Helen,  Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting. 

This witty blog is too good to miss -- though I'll warn you that it is liberal, feminist, and not afraid of 'language.' (The F word and the N word are banned.)

Then I found out that there's some on line discussion as to whether this blog is really written by a pair of octogenarians.  Hmm. These ladies definitely don't fit most folks idea of eighty-somethings... these ladies rock! 

And while I can't vouch for the reality of this particular pair, I will say that I have no trouble believing that older women can be articulate, liberal, funny, and that they might use a bit of 'vulgar' language. It smacks of ageism to suggest otherwise.   
And speaking of ageism, I'm still fuming over something I heard on an NPR interview  with former poet laureate Donald Hall.

Hall, who is in his eighties and physically frail,  told Fresh Air's Terry Gross of being in Washington, D.C., to receive the National Medal of Arts. Hall and his companion, Linda, decided to visit the National Portrait Gallery and they stopped in front of a sculpture created by Henry Moore, the subject of a 1965 New Yorker profile written by Hall.


"I can't stand for long, so my friend Linda was pushing me in a wheelchair, and at one point the guard came over and told us that this sculpture was a Henry Moore," he recalls. "My friend Linda thought of mentioning to him that I knew Moore pretty well, but we didn't ... and we went onto other things."


After lunch, they ran into the same guard, who asked Linda if she had a nice lunch and then leaned in closer to Hall's wheelchair.


"And he had an idiot grin and pointed a finger at me and said, 'Did we have a nice din-din?' " recalls Hall. "It was amazing. ... He talked baby talk at me. ... I was taken aback, totally taken aback and amused that he should make such a mistake. I wouldn't talk baby talk like that to a baby. Here he was, talking baby talk to an 82-year-old."

Appalling. But probably all too common that age and/or disability are equated with a lack of intelligence. 

Next time, Mr. Hall, I'd suggest a quick upward thrust of the cane where it would do the most good. And then a quote from Monty Python.

"I'm not dead yet!"

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18 comments:

Desiree said...

An enjoyable, arresting post, Vicki. Loved your suggestion at the end.

Martin said...

Amazing how so many still judge a book by its cover...and very often deny themselves something special, in the process.

Ms. A said...

Regarding the last part, the nerve of some people!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Amen.
Sam

KarenB said...

I have found it startling when I used to be out with my grandmother or now, when I'm out with an older friend, how waiters or store clerks will direct all the questions and remarks to me. It's just rude and inconsiderate. I wonder do these people not have grandparents? Older uncles or aunts? Older friends? How unfortunate to limit yourself to interacting with only your own generation!

And, oh yes, I do love Margaret and Helen, but you knew that already!

Brian Miller said...

ugh...how insulting the guy in the museum...i need to check these ladies out as well...hehe...i dont mind a good political bent....

Anonymous said...

Years ago I had an opposite experience from the poet laureate. I was in my early 60s, we were at a Boston market, and the clerk said to me, "Are you eligible for any discount. I asked what kind, and he said, "Well, there's one for people over the age of 60."
"Great," I said, "I'm over 60.'
He smiled and said, "Well, you'll have to show your ID..."
Unfortunately, this humorous and tactful food server is in the minority, but I relished his diplomacy!
Deana the Queena

Anonymous said...

My mother, in her early 80s, was at a Miami Beach resort hotel about ten years ago. She was having breakfast when the waitress said "Are you going to wear your bikini to the beach this morning, dear?"
Without missing a beat, Mom replied, No.... I'm going to wear my thong."

Deana the Queena

Jean Baardsen said...

My sister has MS, and several years ago - we were in our 50's - I was taking her around our local quilt show. She was in a wheel chair. The asshole husband of one of my quilter friends, after being introduced to my sister, spoke to her as if she were retarded. Another time - she's two years younger than me, and usually uses a cane - we had eaten at a Chinese restaurant, and when we were paying our bill, the cashier asked me if my mother and I had enjoyed our meal. I frequently suggest to me sister that she should hit these people with her cane....

Suz said...

Oh, if only Jane would have witnessed this...he'd a got a clobbering

Susan M. Bell said...

My husband and I were talking just the other day about how when someone is elderly, people start talking to them like they're little children, even if they have their full faculties and are as spry as ever. I have never understood that.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

What a slam to Donald Hall -- wish he would have used a cane on the guard. -- best friends for sixty years is believable. As far as being for real --innocent until proven guilty -- barbara

Frances said...

Oh shoot Vicki. I just wrote a long comment and then some errant finger hit a key and it all disappeared.

Let me try to reconstruct. I'd read this same Henry Moore tale in a recent article written by Mr. Hall in The New Yorker. I cannot remember exactly which week's issue, but guess that google and The New Yorker might soon put you in touch.

The article was prose by a poet, with many beautiful images and views about what it is to grow older.

I quite liked the article, but some of my friends did not.

As I also grow older, I still cling to my view of my self as a young adult in the 1960's, and wonder if folks who meet me now have any notion of what dramas I might keep quietly to myself.

Best wishes.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Frances -- I must have missed that article -- I'll go back and have a look.

I, too, have some trouble in reconciling my exterior appearance with what I think of as my 'real' self.

Merisi said...

Could it be that some people have difficulty relating to a more senior person because they have little experience in being around people who are of retirement age?

The one thing that struck me most when I moved to Vienna was that the older generation does not move "south" and out of sight. I see regularly, for instance, couples well advanced in years, say in their high eighties, having lunch or coffee, reading the paper, meeting friends. I observe waiters and grocery store clerks who are kind and helpful to seniors.

Katy Gilmore said...

Loved that you wrote about this Vicki! Donald Hall's piece in The New Yorker which includes this experience does elicit differing opinions - I liked that he wrote it and they published it, but is "kinda grim" as one friend said. But maybe understandable after such treatment. - thanks again! (oh - it's the 23 January 2012 issue)

Vicki Lane said...

Katy and Frances -- I just tracked down and read that article. Bittersweet -- I had a friend in her eighties who said getting old was all about learning to give up things. But Mr. Hall at his window is still a poet -- even when writing prose.

Vicki Lane said...

Katy and Frances -- I just tracked down and read that article. Bittersweet -- I had a friend in her eighties who said getting old was all about learning to give up things. But Mr. Hall at his window is still a poet -- even when writing prose.