Friday, April 28, 2017

The Irony of Dear Old Ladies

In the book I just finished, a forty-something man says of young people in their twenties:

"They treat me as I would treat a dear old lady, well past seventy and long buried in the country. And, of course, they don't understand irony. (Perhaps I don't understand the irony of dear old ladies -- it's a chastening thought.)" 

Reading this paragraph caused me a bit of mental whiplash - first, the realization that I'd been guilty of such behavior to my elders; second, the  recognition of having all too often been on the receiving end of said behavior; and third (with something of a shock) the absolute fact that I am an old lady, not especially dear but well past seventy and long buried in the country. And does anyone understand my irony?

(Exit humming "I've looked at life from three sides now . . .") 

(I encountered the quoted paragraph in Hugh Walpole and J. B. Priestly's Farthing Hall -- a bit of a period piece that belonged to John's paternal grandmother.)


Anvilcloud said...

One day last week when I was out and about, I had two different women hold doors for me. Hmmm.

Which also brings to mind that some women get quite irked when men hold doors open for them. Me? I appreciated the thoughtful gestures. They were both a case of how we were both situation vis a vis the door.

Vicki Lane said...

I have opened doors for men and been grateful when men or others have opened doors for me. As you say, it's a matter of positioning.

Barbara Rogers said...

I love becoming more intergenerational in friendships. However I just realized these women (mostly) are parents of adult children or never had kids at all. So I'm reminded again of a 90 something woman who said she'd outlived all her friends, and was starting all over to make younger friends. I never sat down and figured out how to chose someone to become friends with (sorry for dangling participle.)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Love your comment "I've looked at life from three sides now." Me, too. I've entered that bracket where younger people are verrrry respectful toward me . . . lol.

NCmountainwoman said...

Our book club recently discussed "A Thread of Grace" about the Partisans, Jews, and Catholics in Italy during WW II. One of our most interesting discussion points was how the "dear old ladies" played such vital roles in passing information and delivering contraband since they were "invisible" to the Nazi guards.

BTW: It's a great book. (By Mary Doria Russell)

Frances said...

Vicki, although I do grow older every day, I am not convinced that I will ever be a dear old lady.

I do enjoy knowing folks who represent many generations and think I might just be able to relate to all of them.


Jim Egerton said...

Last week a waitress asked me how I was. I said I was tired. She asked awhh you want to tell me about it? You want to cry on my shoulder? There's a role reversal for ya. Also coming to mind is Neil Youngs song Old Man.

katy gilmore said...

I remember my mom saying that she didn't feel at all old like she looked in the mirror - I wonder what age she did feel? Of course, being young and oblivious, I neglected to ask. I regret that, of course, now that I understand.