By Ingrid Sapona
Like most folks, I look in the bathroom mirror as I’m
flossing and brushing, or doing my hair. It’s a funny thing – even though you
may look at yourself every day and you know changes are happening – you don’t
notice signs of aging as they occur. Instead, they kind of bonk you in the head
from time-to-time. One day as you’re putting on your mascara you notice a few
gray eyebrow hairs, or you notice that when you smile those crow’s feet around
your eyes are becoming pretty pronounced. By-and-large, I’d have to say that so
far, the physical changes are no big deal.
The truth is, I feel great. Sure, a few aches and pains, but
nothing out of the ordinary and when I look in the mirror I’m ok with what I see.
But, despite my relative youthfulness, more-and-more these days I catch myself
saying things that sound like something my mother or (late) father would say.
A classic example occurred just this morning when I was
reading about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s decision “to spend $40 billion a
month to buy mortgage-backed securities.” The quoted text I just typed is
exactly how the newspaper put it. But, this is how the voice in my head read
it: “Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s decision to spend $40 BILLION – that’s with a
B – not an M…”
That emphasis on the billion,
and the little added comment about it starting with a B, not an M, is something
my father used to do all the time. He’d say the amount and then, as if he
thought someone would call him out for being mistaken or exaggerating, he’d
reconfirm by emphasising “that’s million, with an M!” It was also his indirect
way of pointing out how out-of-control prices were getting.
I know it was sometime during Bush 43’s presidency (with two
wars going on) that millions became billions without many folks taking note. More
alarmingly, it seems that lately, billions (with a B) are all-too-frequently
giving way to Trillions (with a T). Maybe that’s why I’ve sort of assumed the
mantel of my father – trying (in vain) to draw attention to these astronomical
figures. I’m afraid that it’s only a matter of time before I start spouting an
updated version of one of dad’s other money bon mots: “that’s when a billion bought
But it’s not just money matters that have me channeling my
parents more and more. Recently I was working out in the gym in my condo
building when a young man walked in. As is my habit, when the door opened I
turned to see who it was and, though I had never seen him before, I politely
said “good morning”. To my surprise and irritation he didn’t acknowledge me or
the fact that I had spoken to him. Yes – it occurred to me he might not have
heard me – but I said it fairly loudly and I before I spoke I looked to see
whether he had any ear buds in. He didn’t.
Next thing you know, I stopped what I was doing and walked
up to him. I waited until he looked up at me and I sternly repeated, “Good
Morning”. Though he was clearly surprised at my persistence, he quietly replied,
“good morning” adding (by way of explanation, I guess): “Sorry, I’m a low
I’m relieved to report that on hearing his explanation, I
didn’t blurt out: Low Talker? What the hell is that? – Even though that’s what
I was thinking. Instead, I meekly smiled and resumed my workout, hoping my
behaviour didn’t seem too much like a grouchy senior who thinks it’s her job to
instill manners in folks of a younger generation.
Mind you, I wasn’t so embarrassed by the incident that I
kept it to myself. Most who I told the story to (mainly other residents who
frequent the gym) got a laugh and said they would have had a hard time not
commenting on the “low talker” response. One friend, however, explained that
she thought the “low talker” reference was to something in a Seinfeld episode. That
news didn’t thrill me either… nothing like realizing you’re out of touch with pop
culture references to make you feel even older.
It’s little incidents like these (which seem to be occurring
more frequently) that remind me that, no matter how good I feel, I’m definitely
getting old. That said, I take some solace in the fact that at least I’m still
young enough to notice these quirks!
© 2012 Ingrid Sapona