Congratulations Seniors! In addition to receiving benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, and discount movie tickets, you are now eligible to receive jokes in your inbox which keep reminding you that you’re old!
It’s not that I resent jokes about aging. I think laughing at ourselves is healthy as long as you empty your bladder first. In fact, I’ve written many an essay about the indignities of growing older. For example, I’ve questioned the wisdom of, after a certain age, paying a higher price for a product because it comes with a life-time warranty. I applied the same logic before agreeing to very expensive dental work. Do I get a guarantee that I’ll outlive my teeth? I’ve skewered fashion: the wisdom of wearing stiletto heels, the trauma of needing a new bathing suit, whether there is an expiration date for going sleeveless. My essays about height (loss), weight (gain), body part replacements have all been based on my own real time experiences. (It was Bette Davis who first said,
“Old age ain’t no place for sissies!” Now, there was a wise woman!)
But as with life, not all jokes are created equal. Someone should invent a spam filter that permits only the best ones to survive. Until someone does, I’ve decided to share my edited list of recent internet gems that I have found particularly clever. While you may not wind up rolling on the floor with laugher, which, at our age is questionable behavior in any circumstance, I hope you at least find them relatable.
If you can’t think of a word, say “I forget the English word for it.” That way people will think you are bilingual instead of senile.
It turns out that when asked who your favorite child is, you’re supposed to pick one of your own. I know that now.
I can’t believe I forgot to go to the gym today. That’s seven years in a row.
I’ve been watching my weight. It’s still there.
How’s life going? Well, I turned on the wrong burner and have been cooking nothing for twenty minutes.
I like to make lists. I also like to leave them lying on the kitchen counter and then guess what’s on the list while I’m at the store.
When I say, “the other day,” I could be referring to any time between yesterday and ten years ago.
I’ve successfully completed the 30-year transition from wanting to stay up late to just wanting to go to bed.
And the most recently arrived favorite:
Being an adult is mostly about being exhausted, wishing you hadn’t made plans, waiting to take your bra off, wondering how you can fall asleep and stay asleep, missing someone or something, become forgetful, craving foods that you know you shouldn’t eat, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, and wondering how you got that bruise.
So, keep laughing folks. As a wise man (or was it a woman?) once said, “Do not regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.”
(My thanks to the other Larry G. (not my husband) and Nancy K. for filling my inbox with smiles.)
I love February. It’s short and sweet, but very important. It’s the last full month of winter (not that that matters in South Florida), you can finally see the daylight lengthening, and it has some neat special designations. Unfortunately, we’ve already missed National Dark Chocolate Day on February 1st, and National Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on February 2nd, but there’s still time to stock up for National Drink Wine Day on February 18th.
Of course, there are the more obvious holidays, like Ground Hog Day, presidential birthdays, and Valentine’s Day. And the lesser-known birthday of yours truly. Oh, the special rewards of being an octogenarian! In addition to the warm greetings of family and friends, I was treated to birthday wishes from my geriatrician, my dentist, my periodontist, my Medicare advisor, and my Aetna drug Medicare plan. I also discovered, thanks to Microsoft, who, by the way, also wished me a happy birthday, that I share a birth date with notables such as Randolph Churchill, father of Winston, Bess Truman, Grant Wood, Chuck Yaeger, and Allen Legere, a Canadian serial killer.
But every February, there is someone I like to honor, an important woman whose birthday should indeed be noted. So, without apology, I repost this tribute.
Raise your hand if you know that today is the birthday of Susan B. Anthony. As I thought. Only one hand raised, and its mine. Or maybe there was one other hand raised somewhere in the back row. What a responsibility it has been all these years to be the only person in the room harboring this important piece of knowledge.
And how is it that I became the keeper of this factoid? The answer to this, and probably most of my other quirks, dates back, of course, to my childhood. And to savings banks. That’s right, savings banks. In the days when savings banks looked like ancient marble mausoleums. And had higher interest rates. Additionally, if you walked into a bank in the 40s or 50s and opened a new account, you just might leave with a toaster or an electric wall clock.
Well, I must have grown up in the wrong neighborhood, because all our bank gave away was a paper calendar. Pathetic as this giveaway was, my mother brought the calendar home and hung it on a wall in our kitchen. And although the calendar could not brown your bread or tell the time, that’s not to say it wasn’t useful. Each day was represented by a little square where you could inscribe an appointment, or some other reminder. And the little square would also tell you if a particular day had a particular significance, like the Chinese New Year, or Mexican Flag Day, or when there would be a full moon.
My favorite page on the calendar was the month of February. Little narcissist that I was, it was my favorite because it’s the month in which I was born. The second week of February was just chock full of important days. February 12 – Lincoln’s birthday; February 13 – my birthday. Well, that wasn’t exactly printed on the calendar, but hand printed on it by me. February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day. And last but not least, February 15 – Susan B. Anthony’s birthday. That lineup made me so proud. I must be so special to be surrounded by all those important people! I confess at the time I had no knowledge of Susan B. Anthony, but I figured she must be an important person to have her own square. As well as sharing my name.
And, oh yes, the following week, on February 22, there was a square marking the birth of George Washington. (On today’s calendar, Lincoln and Washington are no longer entitled to their own birthdays, but have been efficiently combined into President’s Day, which typically falls on no one’s date of birth, but ensures a three-day weekend.)
As I got older, I did learn who Susan B. Anthony was, but sadly misunderstood what she represented. To my 9-year-old ear, she fought for women’s sufferage, which made absolutely no sense to me at all. You can surely understand why. Also, that she was a suffer jet, which in today’s world, sounds like she played quarterback on a losing football team. But as children we mishear lots of things, like Elephants Gerald, the jazz singer, Round John Virgin who’s mentioned in the song “Silent Night,” and Youth in Asia, who, horribly, were being murdered.
But I’m happy to say that by the time I was old enough to vote, it had all sorted itself out. I developed a full appreciation of Susan B. Anthony’s place in history and her personal importance to me as a woman living in 2019, beyond the fact that we share a name.
She was born February 15, 1820, into a large Quaker family who were social activists, and active in the anti-slavery movement. She became a teacher, and fought for equal pay for women, who were paid less than their male counterparts. Sound familiar? She recognized early on that if women were to have any power at all, they needed the right to vote.
In 1852 she joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the Women’s Rights Movement and dedicated the rest of her life to women’s suffrage. (See, I got it right this time.) Women who supported the cause were called suffragettes. (Professional football didn’t even start until 1892.) She never married, and traveled the country campaigning for abolition of slavery, and women’s rights. Frederick Douglas became a good friend.
In November 1872 the Notorious SBA voted illegally in the US Presidential election and was arrested. She was found guilty by the judge and ordered to pay a fine of $100. She refused to pay and walked away. The trial increased her profile, and her ability to raise funds, enabling her to spread her message of supporting equal rights for women.
She died in New York in 1906. Fourteen years later, in 1920, women’s right to vote was guaranteed by the Nineteenth Amendment.
End of history lesson. Hopefully, I’ve contributed to spreading the word about the importance of Susan B. Anthony. And going forward, I will no longer be the only person in the room who knows that her birthday is February 15th.
Sitting on my desk right now is a contemporary appointment book. Like the bank calendar in my mother’s kitchen, each day is represented by a little square. Still listed on the February page are Mexican Flag Day, Chinese New Year, and St. Valentine’s Day. Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays have been replaced by Presidents’ Day. And Susan B. Anthony is notably absent. So, would you be so kind as to pencil it in? And while you’re at it, although it’s over, mark down mine as well.
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.