it was drilled into me from a young age to "respect your elders". and i did unquestioningly. something about the grey hairs, wrinkles and stories about jumping out of aeroplanes into war torn germany that earned them the privelege of choosing what to watch on tv ("songs of praise" on sundays) or where to go for lunch (anywhere with poor ventilation and huge servings of deep, fried, and bland). being old earns you the right to wake everyone else up at 4:30 in the morning, clanging about the kitchen like an epileptic drummer; unloading the dishwasher, doing laundry and vacuuming the cats.
my respect is manifested into the same behaviours i extend towards pregnant women; giving up a seat on a crowded bus or train; listening attentively to stories of the 'old country' at family gatherings, or urinary incontinence. when my brother got married i introduced my boyfriend to the grandparents, so they could talk about being polish. my babcia asked him if his parents were still alive, i was horrified, he was polite; smiled, nodded and confirmed that as far as he knew they were still kicking around beechwood village. mowing the lawn and washing the cars as the sun came up.
a friend told me of an altercation she had over a parking spot at kroger where the granny in question almost rammed her car. my friend got out of the car and informed her that she would be "ashamed to have you as my grandmother". i was impressed by her ability to ignore the 'dentures and depends' status and confront this badass biddy. last week i witnessed another age-d deviant, with 2 teeth and about the size of a smurf, shuffling her swollen feet down the road. she was sucking up the last few drags of her cigarette and then tossed it onto the ground. a bystander on her cell phone, "oh-my-god" (all one syllable), stopped her conversation to redirect this littering granny to pick up her butt (this is SoCal and they just outlawed smoking on the beach, baby!). granny feigned ignorance or dementia, and a lack of knowledge of the english language and became quite angry at the girl for correcting her misdemeanor. she shuffled off in a dust cloud of spanish expletives.
just because you qualify for senior shopping days at the supermarket or figured out how to split the atom doesn't grant you a lifetime supply of respect. i was recently told that respect is like a bank account; you don't have unlimited spending, you have to keep making actions to make deposits. i would like to make enough deposits to earn parking spots and right to drone on about what a flighty, indecisive young 'un i was, interspersed with updates on my bowel movements; i will be blogging from my special chair that i can ride up and down the stairs. i cant wait til this generation starts collecting social security, imagine nursing homes full of shrunken women wearing low slung, elasticated waist pants with their lower back tattoos hanging out and belly button rings folded into the accordion rolls of sagging silicone. all the old dudes will have liver spots camouflaging their barbed wire tattoos round the biceps. now that deserves some respect.