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Crabby Old Lady remembers it as clearly as when it happened in 1956. During that summer, she and her mother had moved to Marin County, California, where in the fall Crabby started her third year of high school at Tamalpais High.
After school one day, Crabby and her new friend Judy had taken the bus home to Sausalito together and without any thought in her head about it, Crabby grabbed Judy's hand as they ran across the road to the side where they needed to be.
Immediately, Judy pulled her hand away and said, “Don't do that. We're not little kids.”
At first, Crabby was hurt. Afraid, too, that she would lose her new and, so far, only friend. Because it seemed to her that Judy knew more about these things than Crabby did, Crabby tried not to show her feelings and she certainly didn't say anything. (She was shy in those days.)
All her life, Crabby had held someone's hand when she crossed the street. First, of course, with parents, and later, with girl friends who, in Portland, Oregon where she grew up until moving to California, were just as likely to grab Crabby's hand first.
Now Judy had shown her that in this new place she was still learning to navigate, Crabby shouldn't do that.
And here she is now, 64 years later, while the media, advertisers and random internet writers never stop telling Crabby that she shouldn't act like an old person.
The media is overly fond of old people who do things that even young adults avoid like climbing high mountains, jumping out of airplanes and running marathons. When the supply of those stories runs short, a couple who get married in their 90s is a frequent second choice.
Most recently, ads for a new lipstick brand have been following Crabby around the internet and it knows she is old.
Supposedly, it won't bleed into the little, vertical lines above our lip that many get in old age. But lipstick companies have been telling Crabby that certain lipsticks do that all her life and she doubts this one works any better than all the previous claims.
In addition, there is no dearth of young and young-ish people online feeling the need to school old folks on how not to act like they are old. Among the warnings Crabby came across was this downright nasty one:
”Don't fall victim to a scam. Scams are now rampant and many of them are aimed at old people. It's one thing BEING old. You don't have to add to that by ACTING old and being naïve enough to fall for some of these scams that are out there. That not only marks you as old, old, old, but kind of dumb.”
Worse, the writer cracking the whip at old folks doesn't even know what she (they are mostly women) is talking about. Experian reports about a Better Business Bureau survey:
”The BBB report showed that Americans ages 18 to 34 were more susceptible to scams (43.7% were victims) than Americans 55 and older (27.6% were victims).”
It's only fair to note, however, that the older group loses more money in scams than younger victims.
Here's another one, only slightly less rude:
”Don't wait until you get up to the checker at the grocery story to fish around for your wallet or your check book...Your wallet should be out and if you are writing a check, which, I hate to tell you, pegs you as an old person right there because no one writes checks at the grocery story anymore, your checkbook should be in hand.”
Other admonitions include:
• Don’t talk too much or use too many words
• Get a tattoo or lie about having one
And this one, billed as a three-fer:
• Don’t call when a text will do
• Don’t expect an immediate answer to your text
• Please don’t leave a message
Don't act young, they said back then. Don't act old, they tell Crabby now. How 'bout they all go eat worms.