Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lunch with Dame Judith

Saturday afternoon was spent lunching with Dame Judith, my longtime friend here in Denver. Dame Judith is a few decades older than me, a retired educational psychologist and college professor. I gain greatly from her life experience, and I suppose I keep her young by hanging out and keeping her abreast of the latest silliness of modern life. I also occasionally help her troubleshoot her computer, which I think she has me do sometimes to make me feel young. She has an iMac, and I haven't done anything on an Apple product other than my iPod since I was a kid in the early '80s playing Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail on an Apple IIe. And I could never make headway on either of those damn games. I couldn't make heads or tails of the algorithms used to make the game work, so my meonade stand always went about $50 in the hole, and I could only make it about two weeks on the trail before one of my kids fell off the back of the wagon and the wagon broke an axle and then I died of dysentery. I've never been able to get into video games since. Except for Centipede, which I can only play if Miss Kitty is hitting the "fire" button while I move the little ship around on the ball controller.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, lunch with Dame Judith.

Even when Dame Judith dresses "down" (Eileen Fisher khakis and a cashmere cardigan), I have to dress "up" my casual (satin belted western-cut shirt with Ann Taylor Loft camisole and Bebe denim skirt and heels). We also go out to lunch (or dinner, or whatever) so that she can get me really drunk, which, at this altitude and my liver, means one glass of wine. Sometimes I think part of the reason Guy ever started dating me was because I'm such a cheap drunk, but anyway...
"Oh, honey," Dame Judith said in her aristocratic voice and accent, reminiscent of Greg's mother on "Dharma & Greg." "Nowadays, I can't have but one either."
"How come?" I inquired while attempting to sip a delicious chardonnay.
The Dame sighed. "The Old Boy isn't doing well at all," she replied. Dame Judith's husband, the Old Boy, formerly known as The Prince, has been in declining health for over a year now.
"His hip replacement bothering him?" I quieried.
"It's not bad," she repiled, "but it's not that. He has dementia."
My eyes widened. "Good Lord! Is it Alzheimer's? Is he losing short term memory?"
"No, actually, it's called Lewy body dementia, which involves some hallucinations, like he tries to sit down in chairs that aren't there." She sipped her wine and nibbled on our duck confit flatbread appetizer. "It's better just to play along that tell him there's not a chair there, just say 'let's sit in this chair, it's more comfy than that one."
Dame Judith and I caught up on our lives this summer, me with my change in responsibilities and Guy and me taking the summer off from working and traveling, and the Dame with simply trying to grasp the new responsibilities of having a husband that was slowly, slowly going away.
"Pixie, I just don't have any goddamn energy," she sighed, her long elegant hand brushing back her graceful, swooping white/silver/blond hair. (Nothing about the Dame is ungraceful. Even when her printer abruptly quits working and she unleashes with a string of f-bombs, she does so with such style, as if Kathareine Hepburn were to swoop through a wormhole in the time-space continuum and become Quentin Tarantino's mother.) "I can't teach my seminars anymore, I can't even keep up the house with my usualy house help. I'm going to have to hire a semi-full time housekeeper to spend three days a week doing everything, not just dusting and sweeping. I'm having to get my son to help me with my rental properties, I can barely keep up."
She swilled a bit of wine. "Christ, I'm only 71."
My eyes popped open again. The Dame doesn't look a day over 57. "Hell, Dame Judith! I'm only 31, and I can't do the shit I used to! Last night, I left a pot on the stove for two hours to make tea, and I burned the damn thing beyond use!" I exclaimed.
Dame Judith's eyes lit up and she let out a loud, delightful laugh. "You?! Burned a pot on the stove?" She drained the last of her wine. "God, I do feel better." She waved at our waitress. "Two more glasses, please!"

Dame Judith did get me to thinking about age, about what-I-used-to-do versus what-I-can-do-now. For example, it's becoming somewhat clear to me that no matter how much I work out and eat well, at the age of 31 I may never see 120 lbs again. At the same time, I also know that I weigh almost 20 lbs less than I did when I graduated high school and I know I'm in way better shape now than I was then. I have abs. No, seriously, I have abs, decent ones. Nothing I'd wear a half-top to show off, but nothing I'd be embarrassed to have peek out accidentally while stretching or while at the pool.

It's not just the obviously physical stuff, either. I've always been a morning person, but especially now, I just can't stay up late anymore. Even on the weekends, I'm hard pressed to make it past 10pm. Spicy foods bother me a little more than they used to. I think less about booze and more about fiber. I still think about nice furnishings and paint colors in a house, but I also think more about retirement and paying off my mortgage early in order to use the Happy Kitten Highrise as a rental property.

In the seven and a half years since I finished grad school, I've gone from I'm-going-to-make-a-difference! to you-kids-get-off-my-lawn! I get cranky when I see new interns come to work in our office in cargo shorts and flip-flops. Dammit, if you wanna wear flip-flops to work, be a lifeguard. We're architects. I'm cranky but civil. What I've gained though is patience. I'm still quick to act, but not hair-trigger, y'know? I've come to understand that, as Martin Luther King Jr once said, the arc of justice is long but wide. I'm not as easily offended as I used to be. I can smell bullshit and crazy much better than I used to, and I suffer neither gladly. I have a very low tolerance for whining and intellectual laziness. Do the work or get out, whatever the work is.

I sense I would do well in Miss Kitty's freshman English classes.


BaxtersMum said...

amen, sister, amen.

i don't get the music kids listen to now days, either. The hip hop gansta crap.

give me duran duran and def leppard any day

Mile High Pixie said...


I actually saw them in concert in high school. I thought I was so cool. Guy saw them in concert before the drummer's accident: he likes to brag that he saw both arms.

Anonymous said...

LOL....well my days involved Country Joe and the Fish so you younguns be careful.

As to the blog, your thoughts are in tune with the advance of age Pixie.....and the stress. Wine is a good thing...........
Doggett here and the website link will be emailed later this week I hope.

faded said...

Getting old is great. I am 53 and do more than I ever did in HS or college. Those years were spent fighting off adults who could not or would not try and cope with a very intelligent, off beat guy.

I spent all my time either trying to please them or fighting off their more idiotic demands.

Now that I am older, I am the adult and I am still just as smart and off beat. Now things are fun to do. Like taking up Karate last April, running a small international business, painting the inside of my house and watching my kids turn into adults.

There is a wonderful freedom and confidence that comes as you build life experience. Much of that freedom develops as I release anger and forgive all the straight adults who tried to fix me.

Tonight I get to go to hitting people class. I pay money to a guy who teaches me how to hit people. How cool is that!

!!Be excellent to each other. Rock On!!

The Wilderness Gina said...

Yeah, faded, but have you noticed now that you are the adult THEY are the children? My mother-in-law complains about her oldest daughter treating her like a child- to which I want to answer "HAVE YOU TRIED NOT ACTING LIKE ONE?!" but I don't say it. If she was MY mother I would BELIEVE IT! I'm 58 and every joint I own is complaining in the mornings...or when it rains... or turns cold.. or just to make me miserable. Booze is nice. It helps.

Mile High Pixie said...

Dogget: And it's one, two, three, what're we fighting for...? I know COuntry Joe and the Fish, too! That doesn't make you old, but rather culturally relevant!

Faded: Be excellent indeed! I'm finding that life gets better as I get older, even with the random aches and pains. And nice "Bill and Ted" reference there!

WG: I think Bailey's is even better for aches and pains than Advil, but that's just me....