A TGB READER STORY: Sleeping With The Enemy
Tender Love and Hair

Crabby Old Lady is Schooled in How Not to Act Old

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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.”

Yes, ma'am!

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.


“Don’t call when a text will do.” Give me a break! I saw that somewhere too. As much as I enjoy my laptop & tablet, I hope I make it until the end without a smartphone. And I don’t think I’ve sent anyone a text (unless they’re reading my emails on their phone).

Ageism exists among our peers too, though. When I sold my car last year (to one of my sister’s co-workers), I asked my sister if she thought the woman would like my Garmin GPS unit. My sister (who is only a year younger than me) said “Oh Doug… people use their smartphones for directions now, no one’s bought one of those things in YEARS.”

I was well aware of said fact, I know people use their phones to get around. But the device I was offering was only a year old, so apparently Garmin is still selling ‘em!

A couple of years ago a twenty-something daughter of a friend was so exited about an offer she received in the mail offering a free Florida vacation. I told her that it's really not free. "But it says so right here", she said as she flung the brochure in my face. Indeed, the headline said "Free, one week vacation and such and such resort, all expenses paid."
"How are you going to get there", I asked. "It says nothing about airfare. And besides, don't you know they want to sell you a timeshare and they will make you listen to a sales presentation every day until you scream for mercy, or buy a timeshare." She was not convinced. Of course. a month later she confessed that after some research what I had told her was correct. And "How did I know?" I responded by saying that old people have a good sense of smell and know a rat when they smell one.

well, talk about rude! As I read today's post from you, I thought I had found an even more extreme example in the paragraph that begins "'Don't fall victim to a scam. ...'" As usual, I
was reading fast, so I was utterly shocked! shocked, I tell you, by the following:

"'You don't have to add to that by ACTING old and being naïve enough to fall...'"

I actually sat here for awhile - until I noted that I had not read to the end of the sentence..
Envisioning someone, noting me [say] falling, and responding disgustedly something to
the effect of observing me fall and yelling at me "don't be naive!!!"

So then I re-read, and felt - yes - stupid. But also sort of relieved.

ruth-ellen joeres

Age and stupidity are two different items. Everybody ages, it's inevitable if you live long enough. If a person is born stupid they'll stay stupid. B

Go, Crabby Old Lady!!

I will agree to the checkbook thing and having one's payment at the ready when checking out, but that goes for all ages.

As for having or lying about having a tattoo, that is just insane.

And, if you want to hear from me, then you better leave a message.

I am exceptionally crabby when the teller at the credit union patronizingly my asks me why I am taking money from a savings account!

Don't even get me started on the mindless insult, "OK Boomer". It's actual meaning is bad enough; implying that your comment or opinion was simply a product of your age and, therefore, worthless.
But it's even more annoying when "OK, Boomer" is said in response to an opinion that has nothing to do with age, e.g. "I bet that the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl". Simply because someone (younger) sees a picture of an older person on the comment with which they disagree, their response is "OK Boomer".
No counterargument or even a snide remark that's in any way related to the topic. Just a quick dive into what they see as the ultimate insult, "you are a Boomer".
Even though that response says much more about the speaker's lack of intelligence & critical thinking than it does about their target, I hate to see this trend as the latest "mic drop" rejoinder.

Haha! Love this post and the comments. Better to laugh than to let it get to me.

Yes, the younger generations prefer texting to phone calls. And having Gen X and Millennial children and children-in-law (is that a word?) I've found texting is the way to go if I want prompt responses to my communication with them. I'm very fortunate to have kind and respectful younger people in my immediate family and I'm happy to adjust to their preferred mode of communication.

But my age does sometimes seem to elicit rudeness from others. Some are just clueless, some have an agenda. If they're lucky enough to live a long life they'll get a taste of their own medicine someday. When I see or hear outrageously inane attitudes about older people, I sometimes smile at the irony. I'm a member of the Boomer generation and we were notoriously rebellious against the older generations in our day. So in a way we've got it coming.

P.S., as to the silly checkbook advice, my white hair and wrinkles peg me as an old person. Writing a check is redundant evidence. My feeling is, if they want my money, they can wait an extra minute or two.

Writing checks: if you are doing this in the express checkout lane, you are being rude. Who says? Me! I and everyone else in that line is trying to get through the line quickly.

When the teller asks about a withdrawal, he or she is trying to screen for a scam. A family member who is a banker does this with elderly customers from time to time. But surely this would only be done with large withdrawals?

Once you start texting you will appreciate how convenient it is. Younger folks appreciate short texts. They might not respond quickly because they work, raise families, have responsibilities. But there is nothing more gratifying than texting back and forth with your adult kids during important national events, or other worrisome events. Learn to do this because it works well. And besides, many old folks text among themselves.

If someone patronizes us with the OK Boomer line, just remember how Boomers antagonized our elders. What comes around goes around.

You can pick and choose which newer technologies you use. Don’t simply rule things out, but think about how easy something is to maintain, and if it would be useful.

"Bunk'em, they don't know sh-t." I'm with you, Crabby, worms to them! I don't text and use lots of little buttons because I don't want now, and never did want to express myself with a lot of tappety-tap-tapping on little buttons. My hands were made to dig in the dirt, turn mud into sculpture, paint into paintings.........and I'd love to see a lot of these young button pushers do THAT. Actually, I wouldn't, I'm happy to have us all do what we do and not put each other down for being young, old, texter, non-texter, whatever. Makes me mad though that I could learn to text in an afternoon, and yet it's assumed that I don't do it because I'm old and stupid.

I don't often think of myself as being "old." I just am. A woman named Susan. Maybe that's why most of the ageism in society seems to apply to someone else. I've not experienced it. Sure, I have all the aches and pains and complaints at home, but when I'm out in public, I'm thinking about my next errand, what to get at the grocery store, picking up a prescription, etc. I'm polite; others are polite.

I love texting. Except for my two sons no one in this family sends really short texts. Young or or old. My three sisters and I (I'm the oldest) have a four-way text that has been continuous for several years, every day with one or two exceptions. Most of my F-book is mainly family, , political and historical groups, film groups or public service groups such as our local county emergency group. That was very handy recently as our city was in the middle of one of the worst floods in recent history. We lost some bridges and roads were closed.

My pet peeve is the articles online about what older women should and should not wear by very young people. Who gives a rat's patootie about their preferences. Apparently maybe me as I find it so annoying.

Also I'm a war baby not a boomer but we are a smaller demographic and lately I see we've been lumped in with the baby-boomers in the same belittling way. Half of my sisters would be boomers, but way the labeling anyway, marketing I suppose.

Typo - Why the labeling I meant.

Reminds me of the old meme about not knowing how to act my age never having been this age before! But then I've been invisible for over a quarter of a century now, so what does it matter? Credit Germaine Greer for the last one.

this, to Doug, who was the first to post (must be an early riser?)...

I would LOVE to buy your Garmin! When mine died a few years ago, and I was no longer to drive back and forth from Palm Desert to Portland, I wanted to cry... they didn't make that type, or no longer serviced them, it seems. Wah!

Now unable to make the 1000 mile trip to P.D., but still enjoying "country" roads (they are harder and harder to find when the ticky-tacky houses and condos on the hillsides spring up like mushrooms after rain), I find myself sometimes lost while trying to reconnect with a remembered road.

Fortunately, I am still able to drive, and still love it, although getting my awkward and heavy walker into the back seat is something of a pain in the rear!

My license doesn't expire until next year... (wonder which will go first... me, or the license?) and my twenty-one-year-old car still functions. I would certainly advocate for mandatory drivers' tests because that is just plain logical after what... age 75?

Margo, I’m sorry to hear your own Garmin broke down, I very much wish I had mine to sell to you. I sold the whole whole kit & caboodle (Garmin Nuvi, carrying case, portable friction mount beanbag) to my building’s maintenance man after he saw it sitting on my bedroom’s bookcase and offered me $40 (knowing I’d sold my car).

I don’t know if I’ll ever get another car again as I live in the city (and it was a hassle more than anything) but kind of regret letting that Garmin go still.

Worms AND beetles!

I have a flip phone, so no texting. Too bad, so sad. Whatever happened to email?

I'll talk as much as I want to. I tend to not use my Garmin because I don't like the way it has me go sometimes. A kid asked me how I kept from getting lost: I use maps and ask people for directions. Oh.

One of my peeves is the way single elderly women are treated in restaurants.

I'll dress however I like. When I was young and slim, I wore tighter clothes. Now I don't. Given how I see many young women looking, I realize that I never liked displaying my boobs or my nether regions. Pull that out of your crack, girl!

I don't tell other people how to live, think, act, etc. And I do NOT want anyone doing those things to me. I have been this way all my life, not just now that I am in my 70s.

I don't care what anyone else is doing as long as they don't break the law, are not interfering with another's ability to get along in life, or give unsolicited advice. No one has lived my life, so I don't feel anyone is entitled to criticize or tell me what do do. I think people should devote that energy they use to criticize/ridicule/compel others and direct it towards their own improvement. We have so few years to live our lives. I don't get why so many waste their time trying to make others change. Change starts within.

Live and let live.

I live in Paris France. I’m 80 I alway pay for groceries in cash but several times in the supermarket a women on line in front of me will buy a can of cat food or some item and
write out a personal check for it very aggravating.

Oh, wow, does a lot of this hit home. For some reason, my treatment from Millenials & younger in person has been fine, while online is another matter. A 30-something author whose newsletter I subscribe to, posted a column recently complaining about how her local library only seemed to offer events in the daytime & on weekdays only; so how in the world do they expect the younger, still-working people to attend, and she said "C'mon, Carol, some of us still have to work!" (I guess Carol is the new derogatory term for us elder women, sigh.) I remember complaining about the same thing when I was her age--part of it was because I live in a rural area, so there just aren't that many events, period--so I foolishly thought that I'd email her & explained that while I understood her frustration, that just in case she was wondering, the main reason for events mostly being scheduled in the daytime is that so many of us Boomers can no longer drive after dark. Well, I obviously didn't hit the tone I intended, because I got back, "I know what the reason is, I didn't need a lecture from you! Leave me alone!"

Notice how if you're not elderly, it might be said about you that you just talk too much; have "too many" birthdays and now you are "lecturing". Sigh.

Dear Crabby: Those 'warnings' re "How to Not Act Old" were nothing but thinly-disguised harrangues. Yes, they're hard to forget, but could best be met with looks of abject contempt from
the recipient (us).
Scams?? I'll call you later this week. So be sure to answer your phone. - - - and, have I got a deal for YOU!!

The one I love is "you're giving away your age" when I bring up something that happened years ago. I want to then respond, "So, I'm supposed to be ashamed that I've lived this long?"

Great topic, great comments! Of course, ageism is not benign. I know a pair of sisters (both widows), both going strong. The elder is over 90. She told me that she'd been interested in the possibility of adding solar panels to her house, so had a rep from a company come to the house. They talked for a while, and then he said that if she wanted to do it, he needed to have a younger family member in the room. She thanked him for coming and showed him the door Really? Really? The woman is clearly as alert as she was in her 20s.

When my Mom was in her 70s, she surprised a 30-something eye doctor by, when he was rolling over to her his eye exam equipment & mentioned something like "here comes the Star Wars stuff", correcting him gently that the equipment would better be referred to as "the Star *Trek* stuff since it looked more like something a"Borg" would use. (Don't mess around with science fiction fans, no matter their age.)

There is a lack of patience or tolerance for age. There was an older woman who was in front of the milk display who looked as tho she needed help. So, I asked. She did. And, I did. I was happy to. I understood after going thru eldercare with Dad and I was older, too.

I did volunteer phone work for the Clinton campaign when I was in my 30s. One of the volunteers, after a phone call (mind you, we were calling for votes), said with disgust, "she's older than dirt". That hurt my feelings to hear someone referred to that way.

I also saw a lot of impatience and intolerance displayed by people who should've known better towards Dad during his last 2 years. Did they think my father was unaware?

I use the handrails now on stairs. You can go around me if I'm going too slow.

I love my Garmin, use it all the time and have travelled about 15,00 miles using it, by myself as a solo traveler. I also have an iPhone and use it all the time, like right now.

Don’t tell me what to use, do, wear, buy or who to do it with. I‘be done just fine for 75 years and have done it well.

I like using the oral directions on my iPhone because I’m having more trouble reading the street signs these days, although I see fine for the actual driving. I like the heads up before I reach the intersection I’m looking for.

And I wouldn’t blame the solar panel rep. He may be just protecting his company from possible accusations of having taken advantage of a (potentially confused) older person, rather than assuming that all older people are incompetent.

I like to think I've embraced technology, love the speed of it all. Texting to arrange meetups or lengthy calls with distant friends and family. Using passcard at the grocery checkout.

OK Boomer I've taken to mean that we effed up the world so badly we really have nothing more to say.

My book club was recently scammed. Someone with a breakable (read simple) password and her entire address book was compromised by emergency calls for money from her scammer. The book club couldn't understand this and she had an expert in to see if her computer was hacked, which it wasn't and I admit I got so frustrated with the whole bunch of them arguing with me that she wasn't hacked and me explaining it was her simple password on her email account that did the damage. Someone had assumed her email identity. I urged everyone to use caps and lower case and symbols with their passwords. But they truly prefer the idea of a secret hacker so clever her computer expert couldn't solve it.

But it's not only the elderly who are victims to this. many youngers have been caught up in a scammer's emergency plea for money.


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