To the five or six kindly people who still remember this blog, I want to apologize for my absence. I have no excuse, except that I am lazy and unmotivated, which is why I will never write a novel, which is why no one will ever option it and make me a screenwriter, which is why no one will ever cast Sandra Bullock or Marisa Tomei as me, which is why I will never win an Academy Award and get to say, “In your face, mean high school girls,” which is why I will never be rich. Additionally, nothing all that funny has occurred of late.
However, I now wish to share an exchange I overheard whilst partaking of the evening meal at Jan and Lew’s East Side domicile the other night. I arrived a few minutes before Lew got home from work, and Jan poured me a glass of wine then joined me on the couch. When Lew entered the apartment, he said a quick hello and headed into the bedroom to change.
Now, over the course of the past few years, I’ve had no choice but to start accepting, with great sadness and angst, that my parents are aging. Most of their friends from New Jersey now live in “communities” for “active” adults age 55 and over (because the 300-lb Ilene Cohen is nothing if not “active”). Their dinner hour is decreasing at a pace of a few minutes a year — they once sat down to eat at 8. They’re now done by 7 and I know what lies ahead. They’re eligible for all kinds of discounts and seem creepily PROUD to inform the movie ticket vendor or train conductor of their age. They wear solid white sneakers. They refer to all social networking web sites as “MyFace.”
And it goes without saying that their hearing isn’t what it used to be. Growing up, a mere sneeze from the other side of the house could awaken my sleeping father and send him into an insomniacal rage.
Now, I’ll say something completely inocuous like, “Wow. These new shoes are super-comfy,” and Lew, who blames his personal aural woes on the screaming teens at a Duran Duran concert he chaperoned in 1985, will mis-hear me and respond, “Listen — watch your mouth. It’s okay to talk like that around us. But not everyone finds that kind of thing funny.” I, of course, will have no choice but to ask him what on God’s green earth he thinks I’ve just said, and he, of course, is never actually able to tell me.
But this particular conversation really underscored the truth for me. I’m not even sure it can be called a conversation, as they seemed to be talking to themselves.
Sitting in the living room, I heard Lew calling my mother’s name.
“JAN! WHAT IS THIS?”
I intervened, informing my mother that Lew requested her attention.
“What?” she called back.
L: What’s this bag with the dry cleaning that just came back?
J: Bag? What bag?
L: JAN! What’s this bag that came back with the dry cleaning? It looks like it’s from the Gap?!
J (to me): Is he asking me about his shirts?
Me: No. A Gap bag.
J (to Lew): Gap bag? I didn’t buy anything from the Gap. I have no idea.
L: It’s like a … like a … blue Gap bag or something … where’s that big blue bag they usually give us? Are you sure this is our stuff?
J: The Gap? When would I have been in a Gap?
L: I don’t think this is our stuff, Jan.
J: I’ve never bought anything in the Gap in my life! Banana Republic, sure … H&M … but the Gap …?
L: I’m calling the cleaners.
J: OH! LEW? You know what? I DID buy something in the Gap a few months back. It was that gray hoodie. Or wait, did I get that at Banana Republic? Nope. It was the Gap.
Brief silence. Jan appears deep in thought.
J: LEW? HEY! LEW? Did I put your underwear in that bag?
Big fat EW! And what is she even TALKING ABOUT? Under what circumstances would anyone put anyone else’s undies in a Gap bag, EVER?
L (walking into the living room): Nevermind. It wasn’t a Gap bag. It just looked like one.
Phew! I’m glad we cleared that up. Can we eat now? It’s pushing 5:30.