I take great joy in observing life. I spend a lot of time pondering my observations. So, one day I thought I would write them down. These are my ponderings. -dana

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The invisible line.

About seven years ago,  when I was a young 44 years of age,  my husband and I traveled to the city to take our oldest son out to dinner for his birthday.   By the time we reached the restaurant, our dinner party had grown to include about 10 of his friends.  Todd and I took our seats at the end of the large table.   The conversation was delightful as we heard hysterically funny stories about college life.  We laughed.  We smiled.   We ate.

Then I made the mistake.
I commented on something someone had said at the other end of the table.   I waited for them to be thoroughly amused at my comment.   I waited some more.  When it got really quiet and everyone just sort of looked at me in a sad,  awkward and pathetic way, I knew there was a problem.  At first I thought maybe the cheese from my enchilada, which can sometimes be a little stringy, might be dangling from my chin.  No... that wasn't it.  Eventually someone put me out of my confused state and let me know that what I thought  I'd heard at the other end of the table was not what was actually said.  This meant that the really funny comment I thought  I'd made was actually nothing more than a random statement that had nothing to do with the conversation at all.  There was a little stifled laughter, but don't think I didn't catch the innuendo in the glances those young people exchanged.  "So sad!"  That's what those looks said.  And that's when I knew it.  I knew that I had crossed than invisible,  ambiguous line that separates young from old.   Could it already be time to take my place at the head of the table for one purpose only--to pick up the tab?    Well that's just a bunch of Bologna!

    In the years that have followed that little incident,  I have taken a slow little stroll across that invisible line that separates youth and all that is "cool" from....well, non-youth and all that is not cool!  I have dug in my boots in an attempt to cling to just a piece of my former youthful glory, all the while trying to maintain a level of decorum as I "crossover".   God has been gentle with me.  My children, not so much! 

    Recently, after accomplishing some great personal feat ( I can't remember exactly what it was--which is a whole other story--- but probably having something to do with using a Smart Phone),  I proudly shouted, "Boo-Yah".  My daughter looked at me and slowly began to shake her head before she quietly said,  "Mom, no".  Her tone was the same as I used with her when she was little when she would burp in public.  I would pull her aside and say, "No, we don't do that".  That was the tone she used with me.  Now, I don't really know what "boo-yah" means exactly.  I just know it seemed to fit the occasion.   It isn't a bad word.  I've heard others have a lot of fun saying it.  People even smile sometimes.  So at what age can a person not say it anymore?  That's all I want to know.  Clearly I have crossed over into that territory, but when?  Still,  as sure as I'm sitting here all alone, I find it funny to say "Boo-Yah".  So there.  "Boo-Yah, Boo-Yah, Boo-Yah"!

    Just last night it happened again.

    It's a rather steep learning curve for me.  I recently switched from a PC to a Mac, and I am trying to wrap my mind around iMovie for work purposes. At first, I relied on my kids to just do it for me.  But, they're busy and I finally decided I need to do it myself.  So last night, with a few of them still home for the Christmas holiday,  I had yet another tutoring session.  Without going into great detail, I will simply say these are the words that came out of my daughter's mouth at one point.  "Hey, Adam, let's tag team this.  It's your turn to help her now".   It's your turn!  Really?  It could be a positive thing if you're talking about driving a Corvette or playing Monopoly.  Sure.  "It's your turn" is a nice thing to say.  However, in this context the implication was the opposite.   She was practically begging to be relieved of the drudgery of helping me. "Her", the pronoun  for me, the mother, the very one who gave them life, was used in a less-than-loving manner.  I admit that in middle age, it can take me a tad bit longer to grasp a concept--the idea has to soak in for a minute before I can act on it.  I'm not doing it on purpose.  I'm aware.  I just need a minute.  Again, I don't know when I crossed the line into this, but all I ask is for gentleness.  After all, I told my daughter, how many 50-something moms do you know who use iMovie?  That alone should give me a tiny little bit of "coolness".  Shouldn't it?  I don't recall her ever answering!

    I teach music to preschoolers.  On an almost daily basis I interact with their moms.  Sometimes those moms are pregnant.  As all expectant moms do, they sometimes discuss "being" pregnant.  And my temptation to join in is huge.  In my mind, you see,  I've just delivered my own babies.  In my mind, I'm thirty-ish and I feel like I can hang with their conversations.  In my mind, my experience is still relevant.  Then somewhere, just in the nick of time before I embarrass myself, a still small voice reminds me of these things.  Babies sleep on their backs now, not on their tummies.  Mister Rogers is out, Dora the Explorer is in.  Labor and delivery happen in one room now.  No need for the phrases "it's a girl" or "it's a boy" now, because the parents have already known the sex of the child for months.  Why?  Because now they have these things called Sonograms.  And not just plain old sonograms.  Sonograms in 3-D.  Wonder if the doc provides the glasses or if you have to bring your own?  Wonder if you also get popcorn and a drink when you watch?  I want to ask, but in the back of my mind I hear my daughter saying, "Mom, no!" So I don't ask.

    But I want to.

    I love speaking in accents.  I do a killer British Cockney accent, not a bad Aussie accent, a South American accent of some sort, an Indian (from India) accent and lovely southern drawl.  My most favorite accent of all, though, is a New York accent.  When my children were little, the were so amused!  I would even have them repeat lines back to me with an accent and we had so much fun.  Eventually, when their little friends would come over, I would entertain them as well.  We had a grand time. As my children grew older, they tired of my accents, although their friends would still request them.  The friends loved it.  My kids just rolled their eyes. Here's the thing about doing accents.  When you finally get warmed up, you just want to keep going.  It's as if you can't stop!  One of my children, who shall remain nameless for this story, will refuse to speak to me until I stop.  I know...ridiculous, right?  When did the entertainment value of my speaking in accents go down?  The precision with which I deliver them is better than ever!  It's that dogone invisible line.  Once I crossed it,  my accents are no longer funny.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I have exactly three people in my life who appreciate speaking in accents.  These are their names.

    Todd.  Nat.  Harriet.   Todd lives with me and accents have become our "inside" joke.  I rarely hang up the phone with Nat when we don't say, "Good-boi", our New York version of "good bye".  Harriet and I always revert to our south-american accents at some point in our conversations.  It's just what we do.  We have all stepped over that line....no one really finds us at all amusing except ourselves.  And you know what?  That is enough.  Did you hear that kids?  We thought it would be lonely on this side of "the line", but guess what?  There are others here!   And we appreciate each other!

    I couldn't remember the last time we'd attended a matinee together, but a few months back Todd and I found ourselves in a neighboring town in the middle of the afternoon with extra time on our hands.  There was a movie playing that we'd been wanting to see. So,  in the middle of the afternoon we grabbed a couple of tickets and diet cokes and settled in.  We were a bit early, so we people-watched as folks came in.  Lots of folks.  Apparently this was the geriatric showing--you know, the "dinner-at 4, movie-at-5" crowd.  Todd and I felt like kids.  The movie began.  The British accents were a bit difficult to understand in places, but I, being the accent guru that I am,  was managing just fine.   But then the talking in the audience began.  Apparently one of the abilities we lose  when we "crossover" is the ability to whisper.  At one point in the movie, after the British movie star had spoken a particularly poignant line, I hear from somewhere behind me in an "outside voice" these words. "What'd she say?"  And then an equally loud voice answered, "I don't know!"  How irritating is what I was thinking to myself just as Todd leaned over to me and said, "What'd she say?"  Oh my.  We leapt over the invisible line.

    One of my sweet friends told me that there are moments in these middle years where she and her husband will look at each other and kind of shrug and say, "Well, here we are."

    So it seems we, too,  have arrived.

    Here we are.  Shrug.

    Can't go over it.  Can't go around it.  Gotta go through it.

    Well, okay then.  But wherever this road takes me, whenever I get the urge, if you listen closely you will hear my voice of rebellion.  And it will say this.  In a British accent.

    Granny.  Feisty until the day she died.  Boo-yah.


    1. I'm right there with you, my friend. My girl even had the audacity to point out that another mom is a "cool mom". Because she is about 5-7 years younger. Had her kids in her early 20's, not in her 30's.

      One of these days, our kids will be over the line, and they will remember. . . .

    2. I'm now hearing, "Mom, you're so cute!" from my girls, which is what they always say to their grandmother!?!
      Funny post!

    3. Dana...how fun! I couldn't help but chuckle throughout your post. I, too, love to talk in accents and just recently have learned that I (according to my 7th grader) have also crossed the invisible line. She shakes her head and tells me, "no Mom...just stop". I then proceed to add a dance or silly face to my accents and just really embarrass her.