Monday, March 1, 2010


I’d rather do anything than housekeep on my one day off every week. I carry out little sneak attacks on the mess in my few free hours on work days, so that I can have my day off OFF. If nothing else, I just need to get out of this little Dodge once a week. So we get in the car and go somewhere every Sunday.

This time, the husband and I made our getaway to Portland proper; more specifically, to the Home & Garden Show at the Expo Center. I got to drool over a $35,000.00 screen room addition for the back of the house; and then scale that dream down to the $3500.00 plywood and fiberglass greenhouse. In the end, we spednt $35 on box of plants—three geraniums and a begonia. Things I’m pretty sure we could afford and am reasonably certain will find their way to pots on the back deck as soon as the danger of frost goes away.

The attack of the Impossible Dreams wasn’t the only thing that put a kink in my day. There was one other experience that has been bothering me ever since.

Making one's way up and down the aisles of these shows, one learns to amble along at a speed just fast enough to take one out of range of the less aggressive vendors' greetings. And you swing your head from side to side as you go, studying each booth surreptitiously, to see if they're peddling something of interest, without letting your eyes linger long enough to make eye contact with the person in the booth.

But any truly motivated vendor is going to try to catch your attention anyway. One such woman called out to me as I glided past her kiosk:

“Are you over fifty?”

“NO!” I called back, startled. Annoyed. I jumped sideways as if something had bitten me, and shifted into high gear to get away from that hideous query, as far and as fast as my arthritic feet could shuffle me.

Well, of course I’m over fifty. But nobody can tell from just looking at me. Especially not from twenty feet away. They have to get pretty close to see the lines around my mouth and the saggy skin on my neck. Don’t they?

At the end of that aisle was the door to the rest room. On the pretext of needing to wash my hands, I ducked inside and hightailed it—slyly—to the closest mirror. I had to have some reassurance that that ridiculous harpy up the aisle must be blind or stupid to have so accurately honed in on my age just by means of a casual glance.

The mirror…merely added insult to injury. Staring back at me in the dim, unflattering light was…an old person. My hair looked like my grandmother’s bouffant on a “big” day. My outfit appeared amazingly similar to something I’d seen on my favorite octogenarian customer on Senior Night. My face was puffy and pale with big dark rings bruising the tops of my cheekbones below the rims of my not-quite-stylish glasses.

Hard to believe I looked older than I felt.

All my life, people have told me I don’t look my age. I got carded for liquor until I was nearly 30. When I tell people I've been married for twenty (twenty-five, thirty) years, they say, “How old were you when you got married? Twelve?”

But now, I’ve got vendors at trade shows picking me out for a fifty-something from across an auditorium.

I have to say, that probably wasn’t the most engaging opening line a salesperson could have come up with. So I’m thinking our age-Nazi sales lady might not have had a very good day if she continued to use that as her “go to” break the ice line.

Still, I am not going to pretend that it didn’t bother the crap out of me… Whatever she was selling, I felt a burning desire to collect it in large piles and borrow the blow torch from the booth across the aisle…

Next Sunday I'll stay home and scrub the bathroom.

1 comment:

  1. sigh. No one has to ASK me if I'm over fifty. At some point soon, maybe after I have the consult with the cataract surgeon next week, I'll be doing a post about having the damn things removed.

    And, the lighting in those places where they hold things like Home/Garden Expos is so ghastly, it makes forty year olds look sixty. Or maybe seventy. And the bathroom mirrors, please, they're horror shows. I say don't sweat the stupid woman in the booth. Although maybe she had some fantabulous perk for "senior citizens" - don't you simply adore that phrase? I actually grab every one of those perks with both hands, shamelessly.