Old Spice

I wrote this piece today after a conversation with an older woman on the phone. She just tickled my fancy for some reason, so I had to write about her. I present, “Old Spice.” Oh, and yes, the name has been changed to protect the innocent.


I picked up the phone and heard a much older woman on the other end of the line. Her name was Edith. She wanted to order books, she said. In the background I could hear the ticktock of a grandfather clock as the pendulum kept time with our conversation.

I opened the screen on my computer, ready to take her order. Ticktock, the clock said. She began to read numbers slowly and carefully so that I could keep time. 82161…84574…82111. I stopped her. I told her that last book was sexually explicit. I asked her if that was okay. Generally someone with sex excluded on their record will say no, but she had a different answer.

“Oh, honey, I am 92 years old. I’ve done and seen it all.” Ticktock.

I smiled broadly at her over the phone. You see, I love spicy old women, the ones who don’t let prudishness get in the way of living. The ones who are still living in spite of being over 90. I tried to picture her then. She had stark white hair, short and curly. Her glasses were soda bottle bottoms, cut by a fiery torch and fitted into pinkish plastic frames that looked too big for her face. I knew they must be thick because she had to have a vision problem to use our books.

She was sitting in a mauve armchair in the Queen Anne style with mahogany legs that were lightly carved into the shape of a dog’s leg and foot. They were smooth and untwisted, so unlike the hand that held the receiver to her ear. Over the back of the chair was a large, white doily, starched and perfectly positioned over the fabric so as to best show off its pattern.  On her lap was a dusty blue afghan that coordinated with the mauve of the chair. It was 90 degrees outside, and she was chilly.

Truly elderly women are always so put together. What will happen when my slovenly generation grows old? Ticktock. Our tattoos will stretch, sag and fade and our piercings will accentuate our wrinkles, not at all what a lady who is 90 should look like. Will I live to be 90? No one knows, but if I do, I want to be spicy and make younger women blush. I want to be just like Edith.


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