Why Didn’t Samantha Divorce Darrin? What Was She Thinking?



Darrin Stephens was the worst husband ever! Sadder even was Samantha’s complete acquiescence to his demanding and irrational behavior toward who and what she was.

Sadly, when I was a child I failed to grasp the subtle messages inherent in the Bewitched series, one of the more popular television shows of its era. Television was our social media and our influencers were the characters on our favorite shows each week. No wonder we bought the hype of the times and in the end paid a price.

Oh sure Darrin came off as a long suffering mortal with a witch of a mother-in-law, but who was really the villain in this scenario? And didn’t Endora have good reason to despise her misogynistic son-in-law?

Samantha’s desire to live within the rules set by her tyrant of a husband still leave me speechless.

In one episode she is cleaning the oven when Endora enters the kitchen and is quite perturbed to see her daughter doing housework.

Endora’s disgust is totally understandable, but Samantha’s contentment with her housewifely duties is also quite shocking.

If one sees her behavior as a lark and enjoying living the life of a mortal woman, well okay, I imagine we can all understand that mindset. We can also understand that any woman in her right mind would be thrilled to twitch her nose and a second later witness a sparkling house with no effort. Now I don’t know about you but if I could zap my stove clean, scrub the floors or have the dirty laundry show up clean and folded in the drawers, I’d opt for that solution in a New York minute.

However, the fact the real theme of Bewitched is not that Darrin Stephens married a witch, but that he was constantly and angrily forcing her to abandon her nature and behave as a mortal is what frosts my cookies. His constant reminders that he is the “King” of his castle are enough to make a modern woman puke and cast him as one of the most reprehensible characters in television history.

Unless of course her magic suits his purposes and then it is welcomed. Can you say hypocrite?

The message here goes much deeper than simply Samantha choosing to live a mortal life.

It is a man dominating a woman and forbidding her to be who she is. Simply perpetrating the myth that women are subservient to men.

Sounds like the fifties to me.

Darrin’s constant rants about being the head of the household and demanding she stop using witchcraft, becomes more egregious when his daughter is born a witch and he then outlaws her nature as well. Sadly, it is hard to watch for it takes me back to a time when women were expected to do the bidding of their husbands and act as society deemed a proper wife should, cleaning, cooking and childcare. 

I am absolutely not saying those are not wonderfully virtuous aspects of a woman’s life, but it should be her choice. No one should diminish any choice a woman makes that will fulfill her and make her happy.

Samantha was a witch and as such she was privy to powers and abilities far greater than ordinary women could imagine.

Yet Darrin insisted over and over in a rather screeching tone by the way, she not use her powers or simply put, just be who she is.

At this point I must stress that I am well aware it was a comedy and make believe, and no I don’t believe in witches, but of course Tinkerbell is another issue.

Yet the theme of the show, husband against wife or witch, his power over her powers and her inability to be herself and have to sneak around just to be her true self, is yet another reason women of the fifties were brainwashed into such behavior. Of course there is always Lucy who wants to be in Ricky’s show and need I say more?

This is not comedy to women who were raised in a time when their opportunities were limited to what society and their father’s felt was appropriate for women. Raised in a home where women were expected to be no more than wives and mothers and a daughter’s duty was to get her MRS degree and provide her parents with grandchildren and a successful husband I can speak firsthand of the damage these attitudes can inflict.

A man demanding we be something other than what we were, denying our visions or dreams for ourselves and having to bow to the male order sentenced too many women to failure to live up to their potential and achieve their dreams. 

Watching reruns of this show I wince at his very vocal demands that Samantha bend to his will.

Perhaps even sadder is the fact Samantha continues to use her powers behind Darrin’s back. That he hates his mother-in-law because she simply wants her daughter to be who she truly is and have the life she was raised to enjoy is selfish and petty.

Samantha’s desire to live mortally feels hollow in that she continues to use her powers and thus has not truly committed to a life without witchcraft. Is a good marriage one that has both partners hiding and sneaking around to do the things they enjoy, but the other forbids? 

Using her abilities proves she is comfortable with her own self and is only bowing to his demands to please him. This is even sadder that a woman would deny herself to appease a man.

During the fifties and early sixties women in sitcoms were powerless and had to resort to sneaky tactics to achieve their will. I believe “Father Knows Best” says it all.

This lesson was never lost on young girls watching and believing the husband rules and women must be clever and hide their true self.

It was the Darrin Stephens of the world that set the women’s movement back by years. Watching a woman as attractive as Elizabeth Montgomery married to a dork like Dick York is tough enough to buy, but the fact she is capable of twitching her nose to improve her life and change the world and is forbidden to do so is just sad.

Darrin Stephens is just representative of how women were held back and chained to a paradigm that forbade them freedom of choice over their own lives.

Young women today would never tolerate such weakness in their role models. Although the women’s movement made a great first effort, it failed to take into account the fact that some women did choose to be housewives and mothers and this was their prerogative as well. Whatever lifestyle a woman wants she should be able to select for herself.

Women have shown time and again they are very capable of multi tasking their lives. Of course one’s priorities should be in the right places and hopefully the things that truly matter will always be in the forefront. Yet it is not fair to tell a woman how to live, what to choose or what she is capable of in this world. No one should be a Darrin Stephens and dictate who one should be.

Unconditional love and acceptance is what we strive to find in this life and I can definitely tell you it didn’t exist on Bewitched

th-3.jpg

Sound Bites from Memory Hell and NBC

      Sound Bites from Memory Hell and NBC

Wally Cleaver died!

Wally who you ask? Well if you did and you are a Baby Boomer you either grew up without a television or lived on Mars.

Anyone who existed before the advent of color TV knows Wally was the Beaver’s brother, or as some may also know him, Eddie Haskell’s best friend.

Tony Dow was only 77 years old, and no I can’t believe I would ever put the word only in front of 77 years old, and he’s certainly left me feeling mortal. Yet incredibly nostalgic for the great old shows I loved as a kid.

When I remember childhood so much excitement and comfort existed within the confines of that box in the living room playing moving pictures. This new and awesome friend became the babysitter, entertainer and object of amazement as we sat, eyes glued and sucking in the wonder.

The shock of growing older is stifled by the amazing ability we humans have to live in a permanent state of denial about aging. Unless we are faced with an-in-your-face situation like illness or we trip over our own boob when we remove our bra, we can pretty much go along believing we are still in our thirties and all life lies ahead.

Please do not for one moment think I’m surprised a celebrity could die. I do not labor under the delusion that because you’ve been on television or starred on the big screen you are immortal. Although, actually in a crazy sense you are and our favorite shows provide a sense of that earth-standing-still mentality. Characters and plots, always constant offer some feeling of assurance things haven’t really changed despite the reality that exists when we turn away from our television screen.

So many programs have casts now gone to celebrity heaven. Their only problem is there are no agents in heaven and therefore no multi million-dollar deals. Too sad, yet residuals aside I’m certain we’d all be happy to know that Samantha is still tweaking her nose, The Golden Girls are still listening to Rose’s St. Olaf stories and Roy Rogers and Trigger are still catching the bad guys.

Soupy Sales is throwing pies at the angels, Granny Clampett is still swimming in the ceement pond and Barney Fyfe is screwing up and getting haircuts from Floyd the Barber. Ozzie Nelson never leaves the house to go to work, Perry Mason always has the killer on the stand five minutes before the end of the show, Ben Cartwright has four grown, unmarried sons living with him on the Ponderosa, The Twilight Zone is creeping everyone out and Groucho Marks is still smoking a cigar and waiting for the duck to drop down. Oh yes, Father Knows Best, Jack Benny is playing that violin and The Real McCoys still are. Maverick is playing poker and looking damn good, Donna Reed is making oatmeal at eight in the morning in a silk shirtwaist, heels and pearls. (Yeah, like that ever happened in real life. My mother was still in her nightgown when I got home from school). 

Dobie Gillis is chasing women and Maynard G. Krebs is still allergic to work. Dick Clark is at the bandstand looking twenty-five, never aging and introducing Frankie Avalon. Danny Thomas is hoping to Make Room for DaddyDeath Valley still is, Bugs Bunny is dressing up with a mop on his head and lipstick to entice the Tasmanian Devil and the Naked City never got dressed. Wagon Train is heading west and Chester is limping on Gunsmoke while Miss Kitty wears those feather boas around her neck. Jack Webb is getting “just the facts, Mam” on Dragnet, Ralph Cramden is driving a bus and Norton is addressing the ball on The Honeymooners. We always love Lucy although she still has some splainin to do.

The Flying Nun hasn’t landed, and believe it or not the professor can figure out how to make a radio, but not how to fix the boat so they all remain on Gilligan’s Island.

That Girl lives in an expensive New York apartment and dresses in couture while working part time, and Hogan’s Heroes are outwitting the Germans because Shultz “knows nothing.”

Jeannie walks around with her navel uncovered and sleeps in a bottle, Mission Impossible still is and on Green Acres Eva Gabor dresses every day for an inaugural ball and possessed the first Glam Squad. Get Smart is hanging out in the cone of silence and Petticoat Junction is well, yeah, right. Colombo, like every real-life detective figures out the killer in the first two minutes and Beep Beep Rosie is cleaning The Jetsons’ house. And when is she coming to clean mine already?

Sky King is flying around heaven and Uncle Miltie is dressing up as a woman and making us all laugh. Buddy Sorrell is insulting Mel Cooley while Laura Petrie is yelling, “Oh Rob”.

The Brady Bunch is surrounded by avocado green appliances and wood paneled rooms, My Favorite Martian is living with Bill Bixby and moving his head antenna up and down unable to leave earth. Lassie is saving Timmy and Lois Lane hasn’t figured out the guy she’s in love with is really Clark Kent. Sid Caesar does the best fake accents anywhere on Your Show of Shows and Gracie Allen is a lovable airhead while George just smokes his cigar and patiently grins. Red Skelton is still Clem Kadiddlehopper, Our Miss Brooks is unsuccessfully lusting after Mr. Boynton and Abbot and Costello are asking, “Who’s on first?”

My Little Margie is driving her dad Charlie Farrell and his boss Mr. Honeywell crazy which is why Farrell went on to open The Racket Club in Palm Springs when land there was five dollars an acre. December Bride is living with her children while they search to find her a husband and Liberace is still in the closet sporting a candelabra for some additional class.

Ernie Kovacs’ wackiness and brilliance remains greatly missed by all and  I Married Joan introduced Jim Backus who went on be Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell the III. Mr. Peepers is a shy science professor who’s not as scatterbrained as people think, and Fury is still a magnificent black stallion.

Red Buttons is singing Hidiho and F Troop can’t find their way out of a paper bag. The Life of Riley still is and Ann Southern continues to be a very Private SecretaryTopper remains plagued with ghosts and an alcoholic St. Bernard and The Millionaire’s Michael Anthony refuses to drop off my check. 

Yo Rinty! Need I add more? 

The Bob Cummings Show has Alice B. Davis madly in love with her boss but getting nowhere, which is probably why she left and became Alice on The Brady Bunch.

Sgt. Bilko is the best con man in any man’s army and actually managed to get a monkey, Harry Speak Up inducted. Lest we ever forget Sheena Queen of the Jungle or how no week could ever begin properly without The Ed Sullivan Show

But of course no list of great shows could ever be complete without the Mouse. I had my ears ready every day while Jimmy Dodd and Big Roy led the Mouseketeers through the theme of that day’s show. My favorite was Friday when Spin and Marty at the Double R Bar RanchAnnette and all fun series were featured. Although, Anything-Can-Happen Day on Wednesdays was pretty damn good stuff too.

I know I’ve left some oldies but goodies out so you could fill in your favorites. Please send me any I’ve forgotten and your thoughts on those shows. Hey! Why do I have to do all the work here? Just kidding, I love remembering all the happy moments these shows brought into my life as a kid and even today. I hope I just brought some new smiles to you.

Getting Old Sucks!

Getting Old Sucks!

No, I don’t want to hear anyone say, “Sure, but it’s better than the alternative.”

Excuse me, but no one really knows that for sure do they? For all we know the alternative could be Wonkaland or a hut over the water in Bora Bora. Or maybe a massage every day throughout eternity and then a buffet filled with your favorite foods minus calories. Or surrounded by the people you love all the time and they aren’t allowed to criticize you or get on your nerves.

Wow, Paradise!

So now that we’ve put the whole best alternative myth to rest let’s get real shall we?

I seem to spend most of my time lately between doctor visits and healing from surgeries to replace broken parts, talking about the past.

Friends and I commiserate about the good old days when childhood was simple, and how we actually walked back and forth to school, alone. In winter we’d wrap up in ten layers of jackets, undershirts (which my father insisted I wear over my bra) then march out into the cold snowy day alongside a friend.  

I still have a difficult time reconciling how I walked so much as a kid, even home for lunches, played outside, yet still was fat. What’s up with that? I guess I’m over the exercise-keeps-you-thin theories.

I read a study years ago that because Baby Boomers were so active as kids it is easier for us to get back into shape again, than for our children to get into shape in the first place.

Supposedly our muscle memory is still there waiting in the wings for us to run a marathon or walk miles.

Excuse me? As a friend reminded me when hearing that piece of information, her muscle memory now has dementia. I found it hard to argue with that diagnosis. When I call upon my body to pick its flabby ass up off the couch and walk the miles through Costco, it answers me with some incredibly salty language I choose not to repeat.

“Hello, Norma to muscle memory. Wake up and come on down.”

I never knew a muscle was capable of giving someone the finger.

I totally understand why our memories can instantly remember over fifty years ago yet forget last week. Thinking about the wonderful times with friends and family when we were young in a far easier world is a special kind of comfort. One usually reserved for a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie or that first bite of turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving.

There is definite pleasure in recalling happy moments when we were carefree, and remembering to come in the house when the streetlights came on was our only responsibility.

Of course everyone knows that old age is challenging and some seem to coast through while others have to schlep along. Is the difference good genes, attitude, sheer luck or perhaps something else?

I think it may be a combination of all with a hefty dose of genetics thrown in for good measure.

To me it seems those who truly cope well are those who’ve lightened their load.

No, I don’t mean weight, at least not in the sense you might think.

I’m referring to lightening the heavy burden of regrets, hurts, anger and sadness we all carry with us attached to our hearts in an invisible sack.

Should we, how could we, had we, why didn’t we, are the words that still haunt and drag us down every time we say or think them.

If I had only, how could I have thought, etc. are the banes of our existence when we are older. 

So many times we forget what a negative effect they impart, and so many times those negative feelings can actually manifest into actual physical symptoms and illnesses.

We get loaded down and then suddenly the world seems hopeless. Our immune system is crying out for help under the weight of all the useless baggage and life becomes a bit overwhelming and disappointing.

Not all of us give in to those feelings but many do, and they seem to be the ones that suffer most and have less fun.

I have a friend that finds it almost impossible to let go of anything in her closet. Those forty pairs of black pants are an absolute necessity for her.

Too many are the same way with their emotional pants. Letting go is hard whether it be a favorite jacket, an old piece of furniture or the regrets and pain of the past.

Sometimes it’s easier just accepting the impossibility of getting through life without screwing up something somewhere. Yet I wonder what we’d all change if we had the opportunity?

The Butterfly Effect where one change in the past can set a whole different outcome into motion is a powerful deterrent.

I like to think if we look around we can all find at least ten things every day to be grateful for and happy about. Okay so we don’t always look, including me, but we should.

So in the end I guess it’s about focus. Recalling happy times in the past is fun and comforting as long as we spend just as much time enjoying the present. Planning fun and interesting things to do in this moment. 

Is it easy to get bored? You bet! Yet with very little effort we can all pull out that bucket list and find something fun we haven’t yet done or accomplished and set out to do it immediately.

I’ve heard so many people say that happiness is a choice and to some extent it is. Sure there are going to be tough times when you can’t fool yourself into thinking there is any way to find any good in your situation. 

Perhaps that’s why we must be happy right now, so if the bad times come (hopefully not) at least we know that someday after the bad the good can return once more.

Yep, getting old can suck, but it can also be a pretty great time, even though maybe not all the time.

The Smell of Burning Leaves

The Smell of Burning Leaves

If one mentions the word Trigger it quickly calls to my mind a picture of a golden horse with a white patch responding to its owner Roy Rogers. Different strokes I guess.

The brain is a strange little computer. We respond to the senses and a smell, taste, sound or a glimpse can evoke the most intense memory and catch us completely off guard.

One smell that induces the most extreme reaction for me is the smell of burning leaves. If there was a candle that smelled like burning leaves I may be tempted to keep it lit all day.

Occasionally I’ll smell something that reminds me of a fresh spring day after a rain and feel that sense of contentment spring brings, but it’s the burning leaves that stoke my flame of happy memories.

Growing up in the Midwest, autumn was such a happy time filled with sights, sounds and moments captured by one scent—burning leaves. It doesn’t induce a single recollection, but a torrent of memories, happy and heartwarming that bring me to a moment in childhood special and revered.

Autumn meant the beginning of school, new clothes and clean saddle shoes. A trip on the first day of school to the corner drugstore to pick out supplies, including a new loose leaf, pencils and a clean eraser. The excitement of a new school bag complete with clear, zippered pencil case and a fresh box of Crayolas, tips sharp and shiny.

Coming home after school and changing into play clothes then going outside to play with friends and watch the neighborhood boys play football in the street.

I can still picture a leaf gently falling and covering the green grass after turning the most exquisite shades of reds, oranges and yellows. The pure joy of crunching the leaves while walking to school and then jumping in them after my father raked them to the curb. Of hearing him grumble because I messed them up and he had to redo them, yet he was never really angry. I always suspected he wanted to do the same himself.

For me it also meant the Jewish holidays were near and I looked forward to meeting friends at synagogue then walking to the bagel factory after services. The fun of Halloween and choosing a costume, begging for candy and rushing home to look through and see what wonderful delights the treat bag held.

The smell of burning leaves promised Thanksgiving and turkey roasting in the oven while we watched the Macy’s parade on television. Then soon came Christmas, Hanukah and the smell of latkes would arrive with vacation time.

No mention of autumn could be complete without invoking the smell of freshly crushed apples at the Cider Mill. The giant wheel mashing apples into submission as they released their delicious juices then paired with hot cinnamon donuts in a grease-laden paper bag. Followed by a ride on a hay wagon into the orchard to soak up the autumn colors or climb ladders to pick the ripe fruit off their trees. No memory would be complete without the crunch of a caramel dipped apple on Halloween.

Yes, that’s a lot to put on a single smell, but that’s why burning leaves are so powerful. I’m certain if you ask any Baby Boomer what smell evokes autumn for them it will be the same.

There’s a certain comfort in memories now. When younger I never thought much about the past because I was too busy living in the present, and of course when one is young there is very little past to recall.

This past year when I’ve been forced to come face to face with my own mortality and had little ability to move my life forward as I’d have wished, the past seems so suddenly important. It’s as if I pulled out an old scrapbook filled with pictures and suddenly recalled how precious each snapshot has become.

Nostalgia has been a big part of how I’ve coped with this captivity because although I wasn’t free to travel outward, I could travel backward at my leisure. I could reflect at will upon those memories that had settled into the nooks and crannies of my brain and become hidden from view. Whenever a scent or sight drew them out of hiding I luxuriated in their warmth.

There has been a great deal of sharing with old friends on the phone and of course Facebook, and recalling time spent in childhood schools, stores and hometown haunts. Remembering my favorite foods makes me long for a local deli, great burgers or pizza, Chinese food on Sunday or a trip to the DQ. The burning leaves seem to be the magic carpet that transports me to the past, flying over childhood and once again absorbing the sights, smells and tastes of my youth. Filling me with the warmth so desperately needed in these cold, scary COVID days.

Even now when I’m walking and come upon a small pile of fallen dried leaves I will crunch them under my feet and feel a sense of satisfaction as the sound hits my ears.

Perhaps it isn’t the COVID that has captured my imagination and yearning for happier times. It may simply be a side effect of baby boomerism. I can’t say for sure what has created this new desire to share memories with those with whom I shared my youth, but it is a heady and incredibly magnetic feeling.

The question “do you remember” could probably be translated as, “oh, how I miss.”

Whatever the reason I shall always love the smell of burning leaves and the wonderful feelings they evoke and in this uncertain world, of that I am certain.

 

 

 

 

Life on Planet Looney Tunes

Life on Planet Looney Tunes

I can’t even believe that Father Time has turned out to be such an abusive bastard.

Is it not awful enough that he sucks the minutes from us like a tornado moving through Kansas? Now he has allowed a pandemic to steal a year from our ever-growing shorter lives.

Thanks Father Time, may the bird of paradise fly up your diaper.

As if it’s not enough we have to contend with living in captivity, the world has literally gone so mad I’m seriously convinced I left the planet and am now residing on Planet Looney Tunes in the That’s-all-Folks galaxy.

Recently, I was watching Bye Bye Birdie and suddenly I thought, hey, wait a minute. This was my life. What happened to innocence, civility, decency, respect and embracing the simple pleasures?

I must be living in a parallel universe where crazy is the law of the land and everything is upside down.

It’s as if we’re reliving the dream of our teenage years, spending our time sitting in front of the television, sleeping in and eating whatever and whenever we choose.

Well at least that was the dream then anyway.

It took years to achieve the freedom to live our lives as we wish and now we’re on a time out in our rooms for something we never did.  
The first clue I landed on Planet Looney Tunes was the masses paying thousands for Pelotons that covered the planet as far as the eye could see. People peddling for their life and sweating while some voice yelled at them from the great beyond. Isn’t relaxation supposed to be about quiet time?

I stopped riding bikes when my Schwinn rusted out and my tuchas lost all its fat, flattened out and the bicycle seat became my enemy.

On Looney Tunes, mobs rule, children disrespect their teachers and refuse to put down their cell phones, and anyone who attempts to change lanes while driving gets the universal middle finger signal.

When we were young we weren’t allowed to sit all day and watch television, we were castigated for overeating too many sweets, and were threatened with no television for not finishing our Brussel Sprouts. UGH! I hate those things to this day.

What has happened to our lives?

Every generation has been negatively impacted by the challenges of this craziness foisted upon us. Baby Boomers can’t cruise, tour countries they’ve never seen or play mah jong or canasta.

Children miss attending school with their friends. It’s sad they’re being deprived of their childhoods; attending class, playing outdoors, forming cliques and trying to survive high school.

I’m not saying childhood is perfect by any means, but how will our children cope with life if they’re never allowed to interact with the nice and not so nice?

Every generation faces difficulties, but I’m convinced it’s the way you emerge from challenges that matters. It is a plus that families are spending more time together. Well, for most families anyway.

I can’t even imagine how awful it was for our parents and grandparents during World War II when they endured four years of fears, rationing and the loss of loved ones without Netflix, Amazon or the Internet.

Can you imagine how much worse it would have been for everyone if they could’ve live streamed the Blitz or Pearl Harbor?

Sure this is awful, but four years of wondering if your sons, brothers, husbands, nephews or neighbors would ever return from Europe or the Pacific was bloody awful.

Perhaps our parents were tough because of the war. Perhaps we are powder puffs because aside from 9/11 we’ve had it relatively easy.

No, I’m not forgetting Viet Nam, the Cold War, John Kennedy’s assassination or Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress, but unless you lost someone in Nam, aside from the sadness we felt for those who did, our lives went on.

Aside from all the unnecessary death caused by that war, the saddest memory for me was the way our returning soldiers were treated. They’d been sent to a war for no other reason than to satisfy the egos of powerful men and made to pay a terrible price.

So yes, Viet Nam was a sad, horrible time, but I’m not certain it impacted the world as we are now experiencing.

Now we face another world war and because it’s biological it’s frightening and frustrating. We can’t pick up a rifle and shoot it, we can’t spy on it or run it over with a tank or nuke it with atom bombs. We can’t even force it to watch reruns of Petticoat Junction.

This is a new enemy, more evil than any we’ve seen. It’s as if China bottled the DNA from the most evil Nazi’s, put it in a test tube and loosed it on the world.

We are forced to cower in our caves like our ancestors when a wild boar sought them out. They had no weapons except a club or a rock.

As Albert Einstein was purported to have said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

I guess somewhere along the way we luckily missed World War III because it seems we’re back to sticks and stones.

At the end of the day when, as all things do this pandemic passes, the better question is; into what kind of world will we return? Will our current struggles propel us forward as better people in a kinder, more civilized society or will we continue to be angry, bitter and volatile toward one another?

Have we learned as in the past after world wars that peace, love and sanity are the very building blocks of happiness or will we continue down a road of divisiveness and conflict?

I for one will be happy to be outside enjoying my life once again, spending my moments out of captivity doing as I wish. I just pray we can all celebrate being together again in a positive way right here on Planet Earth, and create a better world than ever before.

It’s Never Too Late? But For What?

It’s Never Too Late? But For What?

Its never too late is a phrase I’ve learned to hate. It’s a bigger lie than I’ll still respect you in the morning or read my lips no new taxes or no, your ass doesn’t look fat in those pants.

My entire life I bought into the belief that as long as you’re still breathing there is always tomorrow and another opportunity to get it right.

Wrong!

Of late I’ve come to understand there is a point at which when you knock, opportunity says, “sorry, no one’s home.”

The difficult fact to acknowledge is you actually do get to a place when you’re just too damn old to do some of the things you’ve dreamed of doing. Years of garnering wisdom cannot make up for physical prowess, but it can lead you to a different path.

Sure you can point to an Iris Apfel at 96 still hawking her wears on HSN, but she didn’t start that business in her nineties.

Starting over at a certain point is pointless.

The revelation that you’ve reached a time where certain of life’s choices are no longer available is heartbreaking and yet one must come to terms with the fact it’s a stark reality of aging.

There are many who reach the laugh, laugh golden years and are quite happy to hang up their spurs. After a lifetime of hard work and smart investing many seniors are happy to travel and play golf or tennis if health permits.

So you’re asking, what’s so bad about that, Norma? Must you always bitch about this whole getting-old-thing? Why can’t you just shut up and go to a driving range?

Sadly, I’m of the school that believes that there’s so much to do in life I selfishly want to experience more.

When younger I’d read stories about 60-year olds that went to law school or 50-year olds that lost their jobs and started their own businesses and I found it so inspiring.

Now of course I realize these people were not in their seventies. Oops, that smarts.

So what is someone standing at the doorway of old age supposed to do when their spirit and mind says start that business or get that job when opportunity slams the door in their crows-footed face?

Baby Boomers joke with one another constantly about forgetting what they’re saying from one minute to the next. Walking into a room and being unable to even remember why you did and the inability to recall names or familiar words. We all compare what body part needs replacing or aches that particular day and mourn the fact we can’t eat an entire corned beef sandwich without inhaling Tums.

My body is now calling the shots and literally rules my world. I feel like a mummy that walks forward while pieces of wrappings drop off with every step. “Ouch” now describes my athletic prowess.

I do recognize the fact many grow older without as much physical damage, but no one’s body totally seems to escape the ravages of time unless they’re one of the really lucky ones.

In the end of course the truly lucky ones are actually those still alive to complain about the aches and pains.

I had a doctor friend who used to say that if you’re over forty and you wake up in the morning and something doesn’t hurt, you’re dead.

Okay, I’ve kvetched enough, but isn’t there some truth to my bitching? Yep, humor aside, time often robs us of our dreams.

To be realistic most seniors cannot become a country music star at eighty, go back to school and become a doctor at seventy-eight or get an MBA at ninety. Life is what it is and time unfortunately is a cruel dictator. And yes, you can argue that becoming a country star at eighty is doable, but try to come up against the young people running the music and show businesses and see how far you’d get unless you’re a Maggie Smith or Judy Densch.

So what can one do as the years pile up? Plenty, if agenda matches ability. We can take on new goals and let the old pipe dreams fly away on that Spring breeze that carries old desires away to some youth-filled Neverland.

Is it sad to say goodbye to those aspirations so long a part of our soul? Of course, and one of the pains of aging is letting go of the dreams so long inside, much like old friends we’ll never seen again.

When I was sixty I applied for a job at a newspaper that was far below my abilities. The interview went well as the editor knew me by reputation and we’d even met socially on occasion. At the end he asked me, “Would you feel awkward working here among so many young people?”

“Where do you think I’d feel better working, at a nursing home?” I asked.

Needless to say he’d dropped the A Bomb (age bomb) and literally given his prejudices away.

Yes, sadly there seems to be a time when one outlives their usefulness in a youth-oriented culture. When it’s time to leave and despite how much you’d like to stay, the party’s pretty much over.

So as when we were younger and a goal didn’t materialize no matter how hard we tried, we must now bury many of our ambitions and seek new, realistic objectives.

Of course for some it’s easier as they are happy with a retirement filled with easily achievable goals. A hole in one, regular visits to the grandchildren, a riverboat cruise along the Danube, trip to Las Vegas or a Maj Jong tournament, and these are all great ways to spend one’s retirement.

Yet so many of even these aims are dependent on physical or financial health and many times when dream meets reality one falls short.

No, this isn’t intended to depress the hell out of you; it’s just a shout out to perhaps find a new project that inspires your passion.

Especially now when we’re relegated to our homes in hiding from the monster virus it’s easier to feel helpless and hopeless about the future. Now when each minute takes on new meaning and significance a year of our time has been stolen from our lives. For many it will be difficult to tear oneself away from our new berth in front of the big screen and our affair with Netflix and that’s okay, too.

I’m just kind of venting about getting back out into the world and creating a new existence.

Whether it’s resting on one’s laurels or realizing a long held dream, go for it and make it happen knowing what warriors we Baby Boomers truly are.

Accept what you can’t do with grace, create the life you desire and recognize how much you still have within you to achieve.

There’s a reason poet Dylan Thomas wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

So I’m schlepping myself away from this jigsaw puzzle and checking out my bucket list. For every item I can no longer achieve I’ll add another one I can.

Oy! I think the first one I’ll add is get up off the couch in under five minutes. Hmmm, do you think I can still hitchhike through Italy?

I’d be happy to do a cheer for your goals, but I’m not sure I could lift the pom poms over my head.