Dinner at 5:30? You’ve got to be kidding! Where do you think I live, in south Florida?
Well, truth is, I do live in south Florida, but dinner at 5:30 has nothing to do with the Early Bird Special, or a 7:30 bedtime. It has everything to do with filling the rest of the evening immersed in as many episodes as possible of whatever it is we are currently watching on Netflix. Or Hulu. Or Acorn, Apple TV, or Amazon Prime. Or an occasional 7-day free trial of some other streaming app, in which case dinner might collide with lunch since we have only 7 days to complete 3 seasons of 10 parts each of another irresistible series.
Yes, COVID has certainly changed our lives and our daily habits. No more meeting friends several times a week for a recreational dining experience. The kitchen stove, which used to be an ornament, is now in need of nightly wipe-downs with Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. And evenings which might have been spent at a theater or a movie house, are now passed in front of a smart TV. The couch cushion has a permanent indentation which can no longer be plumped away. And beware of pressing that “Play” button on the remote because once you do, a binge is likely to follow.
The immersion into this other world becomes so deep that once the series has concluded, I am totally bereft. I need a new fix, and quickly. Is this what it’s like to be an addict?
And I know I’m not alone in my neediness. On Zoom calls with friends the topics of conversation have switched from politics and other intellectual pursuits to “what are you watching?” Hopefully, you and your friends have the same propensities when it comes to selecting TV shows and movies. If not, you might have to consider a new group of friends.
My own personal tastes, and fortunately, those of my husband since he still controls the remote, lean towards mysteries, detective shows, crime dramas. And the internet does not disappoint. Interspersed with my favorite reruns of “Law and Order,” I now have access to police procedurals around the globe.
It’s amazing how much crime occurs in quiet English or Irish seaside villages. Or sleepy little, snow-filled towns in Scandinavia, complete with subtitles. An entire cadre of multilingual male and female detectives who never shave or change their clothing, have become my new best friends.
I was most recently besotted by an intrigue which took place in Holland. This one had it all: Sex, murder, crooked politicians, corrupt businessmen, more murder. I have to say the Dutch penal system was most impressive. If I ever entertain a life of crime, I’m heading to Amsterdam. The confinement spaces were quite comfortable, as well as private. Visitors seemed to come and go at all hours. And it appeared the detainees were allowed to wear their own clothing, rather than prison attire. Although, if it was required, I personally wouldn’t mind an orange jumpsuit. It brings out the blue in my eyes.
But Man cannot live by forensic autopsies alone. So to lighten things up, there was the Korean sit-com, at least 120 entertaining episodes from several Australian TV shows, the delightful French show business series, women wrestlers from Las Vegas, and everyone’s favorites, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Grace and Frankie, and Schitt’s Creek with the generous bonus add-on season for those of us who couldn’t get enough of Moira.
So, folks, what will happen post-Pandemic? Will on-line life continue to prevail even after our stay-at-home life has ended? Will we return to a movie theater once it is deemed safe or remain on the couch? When we can safely patronize a restaurant and comfortably sit inside, will we prefer to stay at home with a pizza in order to watch a few more episodes of some import from Turkey?
I like to think I will want to pick up mingling where I left off about a year ago, but who knows? So until the day we’ve all successfully been through the vaccination lines, tell me what you’ve watched recently. I would really appreciate some good recommendations!
“The older you get, I have to say, the funnier you find life. That’s the only way to go. If you get serious about yourself as you get old, you are pathetic.”
The quote above is from Diana Rigg, the actress, born 1938, died 2020. I found it in the New York Times on Monday, December 28, 2020 on a page that was a tribute to culture notables who died in 2020. Diana, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
I, like many other vintage Americans, was introduced to Diana Rigg when she played Mrs. Emma Peele in the 1960s TV spy import from Britain, The Avengers. She was 27 at the time. Younger fans remember her as the sharp-tongued Olenna from Game of Thrones. She was then 75. In between is a long list of other roles, from Shakespeare to James Bond.
If I’m correctly interpreting the intent of Dame Diana’s statement, I believe she’s saying that if one laments all of the indignities of aging, there is a great risk of seeing oneself as a sad and pitiable creature. In other words, pathetic!
When I started this blog nine years ago (has it really been nine years?) the goal was to exercise my third act privilege of commenting on life with a bit of cynicism and satire. So it was inevitable that as I moved further along the aging spectrum I would turn that irony upon myself. After reading the words of Diana Rigg, I took stock of the occasions when I had actually made fodder out of my own condition.
I have questioned the wisdom of, at a certain age, paying a higher price for a product because it comes with a life-time warranty. I applied the same logic before I chose to undergo some very expensive dental work. Did it come with a guarantee that I would outlive my teeth?
Skewering fashion and our changing body image is something that has brought me joy. The foolishness of trying to navigate a journey of a quarter mile wearing four-inch heels. The trauma of needing a new bathing suit. The question of whether going sleeveless was permissible after a certain age. Or creating a new publication, The AARP Fall Fashion Preview, after recognizing that, as an “older” woman the glossy fashion magazines had nothing in them for me.
And talk about losses! And who at this age doesn’t talk about losses? And losses come in many shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, there is the loss of friends, which is never funny. But what about the informal agenda of my husband’s annual high school reunions? First there is the rundown of the condition of one’s body parts, who knows the best doctors, and a drug update. All of which leads to the inevitable “alive or dead” game as they try to figure out if so-and-so, whom no one has heard from in quite a while, is simply ignoring the group or something worse.
I’ve written about losing my fingerprints, my left shoulder, the ability to sleep through the night, and almost two inches of height. Losing my cataracts was a welcome loss, but not without its downside. Seeing my face after the gauzy film was removed from my eyes made me want to consider cosmetic surgery as part of my after-care.
And, of course, who could resist taking stabs at a society which tends to devalue us as we age. I say rail at those who judge us as dinosaurs because we still use AOL. And fie on the media who insists on describing anyone over 60 as “elderly.” Or those that say “she used to be very pretty” about a woman of a certain age because she doesn’t look like she did when she was 16.
There are more essays I could mention, but I think I’ve made my point about a shared philosophy. And so dear Diana, it’s too bad you never got to read my blogs. You would have been very proud of me!
And let me end this with some wisdom from another celebrity icon, Betty White, who turns 99 on January 17th. In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight she said that she planned to spend her upcoming birthday in quarantine. And what did she say was the secret to a long life? Why, a sense of humor, of course.
About the Author
Susan is the author of two award-winning collections of humorous personal essays: “How Old Am I in Dog Years?” and “How to Complain When There’s Nothing to Complain About.” Check out her Author Page HERE.