Small Pleasures Again
Day Trippin' to Multnomah Falls

A TGB READER STORY: Sexist Behavior in the Elderly Male

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The backlog of stories is getting short. If you are inclined to submit one, check the note at the bottom of this story.]

By Jack Handley

A while back, another old guy in my complex and I sat on my porch and drank a can of Rainier Ale, and wondered why we ever liked the stuff. He’s not a buddy but occasionally we sit and talk, but we tell each other tales because there’s not much we have in common.

He’s a good looking old fart. He’s bigger than me. And he’s a football nut while I hold that an NFL game is just a 200-minute advertisement interrupted by 60 minutes of football.

He can stay up late enough to watch Late Nite whatever, which surely demonstrates that we run on tracks of different gauge.

This time we talked, I got us both into a cranky mood by mentioning that the only televised sport I could watch, and one I don’t even like very much, was soccer.

He tried to be agreeable and admitted that hockey was gone for him because he couldn’t any longer follow the puck. And I said that wasn’t the fault of the TV producer but that, for instance, unwatchable baseball was.

See, the whole screen is full of the pitcher, who glares, scratches, spits, winds up and throws, and then you see another closeup of the batter swinging, then a far shot of the fly ball in the lights, and then a closeup traveling shot of the fielder running - and not a single view of the runner who was leading off second base, edging back ready to tap the base and run, or whatever the shortstop was doing according to his assessment of the play, which is how you get yours, as the viewer.

He let out a tolerant grunt and changed the topic to ladies. (We are too old to talk of women.) You know Peg? he asked.

That plump lady, who putters in the community garden? Lives in Chateau 3, I think?

Yes. It seems I offended her, she won’t even nod to me - hell, she looks the other way when we pass on the way to the trash bin.

Do you know what you did? Hah! I bet you said something insensitive.

I think I wrote something that offended her.

You wrote something? Hoo boy.

Well, couple weeks ago I stopped at the garden to pass the time of day with her and she asked could I carry some potted plants up to her balcony. So I did.

We chatted, perfectly normal. Did you know she is a teacher - she still works. I told her the old chestnut that you can’t misspell correctly and she laughed.

Then, a few days later my phone died and since I had been sick, I knew my daughter would think the worst if I didn’t answer the phone. So I went over to Peg’s and asked her if she would phone Susan and tell her I had to get a new phone.

So, she read the number off my phone and and called my daughter who didn’t answer and so Peg left a voice message and explained the situation and then gave her her number as my temporary emergency number.

Nice of her. Sounds okay, so far, I said.

Yeah. Well, then she said, let me put your number in my phone. I was going to put her number in mine, but I’m all thumbs with those little keys, and I sure didn’t want to stand there and do the old mumble, fumble, stumble, and spill.

Besides, I was sure Susan was sending a ‘Dad! call me!’ email so I told Peg that, and said I would come back later with my new phone and get her number.

I’m waiting for the interesting part.

Yeah. So, I went back a week or so later; it took me that long to get a new phone, and the number transferred - all that rigmarole - but she wasn’t there, so I left a note.


All I wrote was, ‘hey, babe, can I have your number?’

You actually wrote “babe”?

Well, yes, I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I thought it was kind of humorous, you know - an old man who’s forgotten what it’s for, writing a simple note to lady old enough to be in senior housing. I didn’t write, hey babe let’s get together and get skinny, for Christ’s sake.

Perhaps that’s what she read, though.

Sheesh. You think?

Well, you said she’s a teacher. You’re old enough; remember parsing, diagramming sentences and such?

Doubt she is. That must’a been way before her time; she’s not our age.

Women always look way into things, you know: Husband: “Honey, when did you get that new blouse?” Wife: “Why, what’s wrong with it?”


I dunno. I don’t know anything about women, the ladies, the fair sex, whatever. If I did, do you think I’d be sitting here by myself?

He crushed his can. “Got anything a man can drink?”

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


More, more, more! Keep writing!

I finally convinced my husband not to call female servers “Dear”. Sigh. But my biggest victory was to teach him not to ask casual acquaintances where their spouse was!

This is hysterical. You have a real gift; love your metaphors, no similes, whatever the bit about running on different tracks. Thanks.

I really like your story, you have a flair for words and are very witty. But I was waiting for the “sexy” part and did not see it. Of course English is not my first language so maybe the sexy part was hidden? He did not ask her to get skinny he said … Did you mean babe is sexy? I didn’t think so. They say that in Nashville all the time, may be you live up north? Or way west?

Great story, fun to read! And yeah, the guy's a jerk. Women with half a brain, at any age, don't like being called "babe," no way! Not "babe," or any of the other endless list of sexist monikers. It's simple. We like to be called by our name.
Thanks for a delightful story.

Hi Ronnie,
I'm a blogger and in readin' today's offering re: "ole men" -- it reminded me that I had critiqued one of your "dailies" a while back when you critiqued all the "words" related to the word "old". You ended up choosing both the words "old" and "elder" as your choices.

As I said, my blog critiqued yours and I chose the word "ole" -- as my preference -- why not, my blog is "Ole Guy's Ramblins". I will try to give you a connection to that blog as follows:

My blog was included in the monthly "organ" here at our senior community in Culver City, CA -- and thought you might be interested in readin' it.
Emiel aka Emiliano aka ole guy

Please forgive me -- in the previous comment I spelled your name incorrectly.

Please let me "fall on my sword" and apologize. With a first name spelled "Emiel" and a last name "Meisel" -- my names are frequently misspelled or mispronounced -- and this usually "peeves me" no end.

Thanks for your patience … Emiel aka Emiliano aka ole guy

Loved it! Good to get the male point of view.

He writes well and honestly. I'm sure most men over about 55 have no idea how all the things they took for granted have changed.
The sequence of events, reinterpreted, is: She helped him out. He's not especially grateful because women have been helping him out all his life--because what else are they for? He used a "cute" nickname in a note, but it came off as demeaning and entitled. After all, she helped him out when she didn't have to; having a man you barely know into your space to do him a favor is, for us, a little risky.
"Thanks, Peg, I really appreciated your help. If it's OK with you, I'd really like your number" might have gotten a happier result. (Using her name would have been a good move; we know men mostly forget ours.)
We all make mistakes--live and learn. And keep writing!

I reread your story and the comments and realized it was not a “sexy” story but a story about “sexism” – my mistake in my comment above. Most readers here are Americans I think; it’s not a diverse audience. My first name is French and unpronounceable for the US tongue. At works for years I was called “Frenchie” or “Miss Piggy” or “the Frog” or “hey you”, so to be called a babe or honey or sweetheart was a step up. When you are an immigrant in the US you try not to be offended. Now I say my name is Mrs so and so, but they still insist and ask for my first name, then when I say it, they repeat it many times, can’t say it, and here we go again… So name calling depends on your perception. I did like the way the story was told, it was full of flavor.

Loved your story. I think it's close to the truth. Men are sometimes oblivious to how to treat women. In all fairness, I guess we women are pretty dense about men, too.

Absolutely delightful! I live in a senior community and can picture the scenario. Thanks for the chuckle!

Kathleen Noble, hooray for you. I just moved to a senior community and have been asked by at least 3 men, "where is your husband?". I'm from the south and am not accustomed to such direct questioning.. I still have not come up with a good reply. I thought maybe it was something done in this area of the country (midwest). Thanks for letting me know it happens in other places. In almost 35 years of being a single woman, I had never had that question posed to me.

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