Monday, August 4, 2008


Old people frighten me. I admitted this to a couple of friends recently, who I'm sure thought I was kidding, or excessively cruel, but really and truly, the geriatric set make me as uncomfortable as mimes and clowns do. I think the primary factor is I have crummy grandparents, so I never saw past the creepy and got to the endearing. Before you go judging me for my outspokeness, just think about the age spots, the lack of elastin and, the transparent skin on their hands which makes for very visible veinage. The old person voice also weirds me out. They've earned it by speaking millions and millions of words and singing along to countless songs, but it doesn't sit well with my ears. Not to mention the medication smell, and if you're my grandparents, the overwhelming idea that they have been not only drinking lots of bourbon, but marinating themselves in it and despite the fact that alcohol is so flammable, been chain smoking for years on end. Just being around them gives me a headache. (There is also always something sketchy on their phone, and even as a small child I would wash after having to use it.)

I watched a couple of documentaries recently on some aged members of the world community, and have to say that as long as there is a theater free from smell-o-vision, I like movies about old people. Young @ Heart is about a choir of geriatric singers who tour the world and sing rock and pop songs. I cried several times during the film. It's kind of amazing how quickly I allow myself to care for the social actors. The most touching was Fred singing "Fix You". OH MY GOSH! Watch this movie. It's very kino-pravda, and very great.

The other was a film about Jimmy Carter, who is absolutely one of my favorite humans ever to walk this earth. Jimmy and Rosalynn are old people I am not afraid of. There is a gleam in Jimmy's eye that draws the attention away from the fact he is in his 80s. And for the most part, his voice sounds a lot like it did 30 years ago when he was Commander-in-chief. Plus, he can drive a nail into a habitat for humanity house better than most people one quarter of his age. One day, I hope I can be even a little bit like Jimmy, because just a little bit of Jimmy Carter would exponentially increase the odds to getting this cynical ageist into heaven when she is covered with wrinkles and age spots and smells of old person.

(I'm also not afraid of Jen's grandparents.)


errin julkunen-pedersen said...

that movie SLAYED me. I was crying from the beginning. and you're right, the coldplay cover is magnificent.

Shlee said...

I love my grandma. But the last time I went to visit her, I thought: Gag (due to the overwhelming, and might I add recently instated upon the moving in of my grandmother's younger but also elderly sister, stench of mothballs. Before it used to just be BenGay (or possibly some other derivative, i.e. TigerBalm or IcyHot). Now it's just an all encompassing and permeating smell. It's like they're trying extra hard to make their memory last...through not just your heart, but throughout your entire thoracic region.