Monday, 14 April 2014
Crabby Old Lady and the Old Gray Lady
(For those who may not know, “The Old Gray Lady” is a nickname of The New York Times.)
For the past few years at that newspaper there has been a blog titled The New Old Age where almost exclusively the posts deal with decline, disease, disability and caregiving of elders.
If The New Old Age was all you knew about old people, you would be forced to conclude that old age – at least, the new kind The Times has staked out for itself - is nothing but misery, and Crabby has whinged about this stereotyping in the past.
In keeping with the paper's negative view of aging, a few days ago there appeared an essay titled, What, Me Old? that is an unrelenting complaint about strangers assuming the writer is older than she believes she appears.
”In the space of a day, three people offered me their seats on buses. I remember doing that when I last lived here in New York, three decades ago. But when I gave my seat away back then, it was to old ladies...
“The next day, three residents of my building raced past me to hold open the heavy front doors. 'What's their problem?' I thought. I mean, I go in and out, without assistance, many times a day...
“Then, not two hours later, I went shopping at the grocery store, seven blocks from home. As I was leaving with three bags of groceries, the 20-something at the checkout counter asked if I wanted a cab. I huffed out and carried my bags home. My shoulders are just fine.”
"Huffed out" of the store? Since when is kindness a cause for taking offense?
The writer of this story is 66-year-old Jane Gross, a long-time reporter at The New York Times. She is one of the few blog regulars who does not entirely toe the age-defeatist editorial line of the blog.
On those two stories alone, Crabby expects better of Ms. Gross Instead, we find that like too many others in the final third of life she not only denies her age, she is aggrieved when others don't share her willful blindness of it.
Worse, she is a jerk about it. “Huffed out” of the store? Don't think that 20-something, who was being polite, respectful and kind, didn't notice. No wonder there are too many nasty “get off my lawn” jokes about old people.
Contrary to the position of Jane Gross in particular and The Old Gray Lady in general, there is nothing wrong with getting old. Crabby Old Lady is both disappointed in and ashamed of them both.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson: The Panhandler