As I was checking out at the grocery store today, I saw items going into my grocery bags that weren’t mine. I hadn’t put mushrooms and strawberries and ricotta cheese into my cart. I soon realized that not only had I switched carts with someone while shopping, but that I had just paid for someone else’s groceries. However, the lines were very long and a storm was on the way, so I just brought them home. And they’re not so bad. It’s not the kind of cereal we usually have, but overall, pretty close to what I would have gotten.
I share this story with you, my three sons, to make a point: I do these things now, when I’m 48, and believe they’re quirky and charming, although your teenage selves may strongly disagree. But, this is the kind of incident thirty or forty years from now that might encourage some of you to put me away in an old age home. This letter outlines the things I do now that do not qualify as reasons to put me out to pasture. You’ll just have to work harder and find other reasons.
Here we go:
1. I cannot remember numbers, any numbers, including my own telephone number, my Social Security number, or today’s date. I know my license plate begins with BGW, because I decided it stands for Big Woman, but beyond that I have no idea what the numbers are on my license plate. There’s no use trying, I have never and will never be able to put and keep numbers in my head, they just fall right out. But I am very good at remembering names. So if I can’t remember your birthday, don’t be alarmed, but if I can’t remember your name, there’s a problem.
2. I have absolutely no sense of direction. I get lost inside restaurants and shopping malls. I get lost driving to and from the drug store. I even get lost while using my GPS and phone — really. I was a subject in an international study for people who have no sense of direction. An interesting fact about that study is that one participant got lost inside his own house. I’ve never been that bad, and if I ever become that bad, it is time to worry.
3. I cannot find my car. I’m lucky if I get to the general area where I parked it. I spend an extraordinary amount of time wandering around parking lots and streets looking for the little black Prius with the BGW license plate. This time would be better spent reading a book or eating chocolate. It is time I will never get back, time I want God to give me back on my deathbed.
4. I don’t like driving, perhaps because I’m not very good at it. I often miss whatever is going on in that darn blind spot (well named!), I generally have no idea where I’m going (see #3) and I don’t like being in charge of a potential killing machine or at the mercy of killing machines being driven by not-so-bright other people. And I can’t figure out how to go backwards; am I supposed to turn the wheel the same way I want to go in reverse or is it the other way around?
5. I can’t see well. I’ve never had good vision, but then had a laser-eye surgery debacle that screwed the whole thing up and left me using a monocle because one eye can see close up and the other can’t. I have trouble seeing far away things, which doesn’t help my driving (see #4). Lights look like halos at night, which is why one of Dad’s jobs is to read subtitles to me, and it’s yet another reason I’m not a fan of foreign films. I’m perfectly comfortable just knowing that I’m missing some stuff out there, and you should be OK with that, too.
[Note: The solution to numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 is for one of you to get a good job and pay for a driver for me.]
6. I am very happy eating the same thing day after day. I have my egg white omelet, toast and coffee every morning for breakfast. I could, also, easily have the same thing for lunch and dinner every day, but that would upset your father. Therefore, don’t be alarmed if you see me having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the forty-seventh day in a row. And one more thing: I will always consider a piece of steak and slab of chocolate cake a nutritious meal (you’ve got protein, milk, vitamins, all good stuff.) However, eating cat food would be new and shocking and bad.
7. I don’t believe in expiration dates for food or medicine. I think it’s a vast corporate conspiracy designed to make me throw things out and buy more stuff. Why would pain relievers “expire” after just a few years? And isn’t cheese moldy by definition — and vinegar, too? And if the meat’s bad it will smell bad, and if the spaghetti sauce is bad it will have fungus on the surface. (Which, by the way, you can just scrape off and use and no one knows the difference. Sorry to tell you that.) Of course, that yogurt I ate the other day that was six month’s old and in the refrigerator during the three-day power outage really didn’t taste good at all. But, I realized it halfway through and no harm was done!
[Note: The solution to numbers 6 and 7 is for one of you to get a good job and hire a chef for me.]
8. I eat dinner at 5 p.m.. I may eat dinner at 4:30 by the time all of you finally (finally!) leave the house. So, mock away if you want, but being early for the early bird special is not going to be a new development.
9. The reason for #8 is that eating dinner any later begins to interfere with my bedtime, which is now 10 p.m. and may soon be 9 p.m.. And I often take a nap, too. The only change I can imagine in this category is the addition of another nap or two — and what could possibly be bad about that?
10. I’m not a very good housekeeper. Dirty dishes are often in the sink (and I blame you all for that, but truthfully, it’s me, too.) I am slow to wash dirty laundry and slower to put away clean laundry. Vacuuming, dusting, doing windows and mopping simply never occur to me as things one needs to or should do. (Blame Nana, in fact, blame Nana for most of this list.)
[Note: The solution to #10 is for one of you to get a good job and hire a housekeeper for me.]
Looking at this list now in its totality, I am struck by the fact that it is far less about my peculiarities and far more about the need for one of you (please, note, I am only asking for one) to study hard and get a good job and hire a driver, chef and housekeeper for me. I will still love you other ones, although maybe not quite as much as the one with the good job.