I had dressed for a luncheon. Not overly so, but in my usual apparel for a ladies luncheon. In other words, I’d managed to pull off my pajamas, shower, do my hair and put on make-up. I’m a writer. Every writer I know has more pajamas than street clothes. To my way of thinking, I was suitable for public viewing.

where's the justiceWhen the elevator doors opened, I stepped into the lobby of my condo building. The assistant manager was standing close by. He turned and smiled, then said. “My! Don’t WE look beautiful today?” His tilted head and pursed lips even looked like a question mark.

Had I forgotten to take off my pajamas? Or had he seen me in them one too many times on the rare occasion when he’d delivered a package? How wide could the disparity in my appearance be?

Truth is, the misused pronoun stopped me. It felt like “we” had fallen at my feet and I’d best break my stride or I might trip over it.

Not that many years ago, I could still turn a head or maybe two. A guy, much like the one before me might even say, “My! You look beautiful today.” Absent a tilted head, it was more statement than question. And the proper pronoun seemed less weighted with deference. You know…the kind reserved for cute little old ladies.

Back in the day, I might be thinking of a way to kindly rebuff what I thought might evolve into an advance. Today I’m wishing it was.

Instead, I was worried that this cute guy would take my arm and offer to escort me to my car. The fear of it filled my mouth with a sour taste, like curdled milk gulped straight from the carton.

I briefly imagined that I could quickly drop and do 25 push-ups (the most I can manage at my age and fitness level). Maybe I could cartwheel across the lobby to express my youthful exuberance.

Instead I stood there and pondered my walk across the lobby… have I started down the road to irrelevance? My feet, shod in spike heels, felt heavy with foreshadowing. As if they knew I’d be dragging them on that journey someday, protesting with each dragging step.

I chose to laugh instead, though it sounded a little high pitched, with a quiver that betrayed my nervousness. “Hells bells my man! I bet you say that to all the old ladies!”

He approached then, his head straight up. Gone were the pursed lips, replaced by a broad grin. “No, I don’t!” His eyes were wide with protest. “And there isn’t an old lady in sight.”

“Well then,” I said. “Thank you very much for the compliment.” His response banished the sour from my tongue. I’d fished for it hoping it would make him think next time.

I tossed my head, pranced across that lobby and out the door to the parking lot grousing. You wish you knew what I know. Hell, you don’t even know what you don’t know. You think I’m out of the loop, and you haven’t even entered the loop. (The last in the words of my dear friend Bren McClain)

Starting the car, I was struck with the notion that these particular prejudices are remarkably the same. A baby-faced youth, wide-eyed, cock-sure and anxious to make a mark bursts forth with a misbegotten comment or gesture.

where's the justiceGently worn maturity, pockmarked by time and assuming that the youth bears not one single scar that symbolizes wisdom. Perhaps we judge each other by appearance… we see a wrinkle or the absence of any; all in the name of relevance.

So maybe we’re equally at fault; youth addressing maturity with polite condescension, or maturity addressing youth with mild disdain. But there’s no mistaking that gaining relevance and maintaining it is what we’re after, no matter what age.

Where’s The Justice? I may be aging, but I’m far from old. I can still do 25 push-ups and probably a cartwheel or two. I think that’s pretty damn relevant. “Don’t we look beautiful,” indeed! Oops! There I go again…

Has it happened to you? Feeling that someone is being a little too deferential? I’d love to hear your story. And I’d be grateful if you shared mine.[subscribe2]


  1. Hmmm, I’m not sure if I had a similar experience or not. I was at the skateboard park, waiting & reading while my 13 year-old wore himself out, and the young attendant played only good 1960s-1970s classic rock & folk on his (whatever the gadget was). (Not the overplayed songs, too.) Not sure if it was for me, or if he just had good taste, but I thanked him for the music when I left 🙂

    • Ha! Souns to me like the kid was an “old soul”… at least in terms of his musical taste! Thumbs up to that! 🙂

  2. I don’t turn as many heads these days and that would be easier to swallow if I knew I was trading in my sex appeal for respect. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Who wants to compete with younger women who wear their dresses five times smaller than their bodies can reasonable allow? Not me. You look fabulous Jacquie–at any age! And I never could do a cartwheel.

    • You look pretty damn fabulous yourself, girl:) And yes, I think the loss of respect is what we mourn. Not long ago, a friend of mine in her early seventies was lamenting a luncheon she shared with a group of thirty-somethings. They gabbed together and exchanged information, yet NOT ONE OF THEM inquired as to her goings-on. Meantime, she’s editing her current book, writing a screenplay adaption for the book, and starting her second novel. She was furious, and I was sad.

  3. I guess it is similar to when we were that age group. Certainly, I don’t remember even caring about another’s appearance as much as I cared about my own. The media encourages this type of reaction and it boils my blood to make me think that because the soul is more vital than outer looks…(I’m at the Omega Institute retreat for wellness…so I’m focused on the bigger picture). That’s why that comment, but it bears thinking about. Enjoyed this…as always… I enjoy your perspective. 😉

    • Thanks Carole! And I enjoy your perspective as well! I don’t remember acting too deferential either, but I’m sure I did.

  4. I have to admit I kept reading while waiting for the punch line. I never saw that it had already been delivered earlier in the blog.

    What I notice these days is that the twenty-somethings say and do NOTHING when they see me these days — they used to at least flash a flow at me in earlier years. When did that change? Damned if I know!

  5. It’s funny that this blog would be so relevant to a situation on the beach this afternoon. A young (20s) group of sunbathers were blatantly displaying their beer cans on Folly Beach. Law enforcement is heavily patrolling looking to hand out $500 alcohol fines. My husband considerately walked over to inform them that it was now illegal to drink on the beach. Rather than appreciate the remark, they acted pissed off and moved farther away from us. . . but, each time the PoPo drove by, their hands concealed their newest opened Bud Light. Guess, as you so appropriately said…. ‘you aren’t even in the loop yet’ my little Milleniars.

    • GREAT example Kat! The “old guy” doesn’t know any better, eh? If they didn’t get caught then, they will. Either on the beach or someplace else.

  6. Thanks so much Jacquie for this post… it makes me feel a little better!! And it made me smile too!!!
    Sending you a hug!!

  7. This was a great post. I couldn’t do 25 push ups if my life depended on it. It is hard to find the need to get dressed up when you aren’t leaving the house. Since I am disabled and no longer in the work force, I miss getting dressed for work. I am trying to change that attitude.

    • I think I miss getting dressed for work too. All but the pantyhose, that is 🙂 Glad yu enjoyed the post and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. And that’s so flattering that it’s making me blush, Bella! Thanks for your very kind words.! It’s easy for you to ignore the external…even after your birthday last week, you are one gorgeous woman:) No flattery…just the facts ma’am.

  9. You just had to bring up relevance just a week after another birthday…25 pushups, indeed- show off…lol. I wonder if that guy knows how to do anything but download apps on an iPhone? At 60 will he have a belly that makes it difficult to see his ankles? Will he have run a multi-million dollar business by the time he is 50? Oh, and let’s not forget having written and published a book- now those are the things that are indicative of relevance. Ignore the comments about the external beauty, I say. Jacquie, you have the glorious gift of experience that keeps you relevant. Good or bad, those experiences demonstrate you have had the chutzpah to take risks, look failure in the eye and get back up again, each time extruding wisdom to share with the younger generation. Now that’s relevance.

  10. Sounds like a book, Jacqueline – Remain Relevant (at any age, any stage). We can all remember being “too young” (and female, lol) and being regularly underestimated as well… I know young men and women already running successful businesses who are even trying to look older to the companies they’re pitching for the same reason, trying to ensure they appear relevant.

    And oh, Dinah – worked with youngsters of varying physical and cognitive challenges and yes, sad and often cruel assumptions were regularly made… to the detriment of all. Not only should it be a course – it should be mandatory!

    • I couldn’t wait to turn 30! In my chosen career, that seemed to be the watermark where one was thought to have “made his/her bones.” Goes to show you how perspective changes as we age 🙂 And we start aging in our twenties! LOL

  11. Hell, I’m nearly 71 and women have been tripping over me on the beach for twenty years-whether I was doing push-ups or not. Seems I became invisible to younger females around age fifty. My wife remains fiercely jealous, which helps, though I’m certain it’s just to let me avoid total depression over flown youth, fleeting hairline,fluctuating waistline, and a serious case of ‘gone-ass.’ I shouldn’t complain; at least my boobs are getting bigger.

    • You’re 71??? NO way!!!! And I think it’s endearing that your wife remains jealous…that is so sweet! As to the boobs, well…I wish I could say the same. But that’s been a lament since I was 15, when mine stopped growing 🙂

  12. I don’t think I could ever do 25 pushups, at least not in the same week, but the rest of this post really made me smile. I remember, I remember!

    • Hilarious! Believe me, when it comes to the push-ups, number 20 to number 25 FEELS like it takes a week! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  13. Loved this, thanks. -As someone born with a physical disability, I’ve faced this all my life. People would see my odd gait complete with crutches and presume that I was cognitively disabled.
    One KMart greeter looked at my husband and said “Would she like a wheelchair?” I was 28 yrs old, a college grad, and worked full-time as a state rehab counselor. I had ignored this same irritation on many previous shopping trips. On this particular trip, I was in a foul mood. I looked at her and said “No SHE doesn’t! And next time SHE would appreciate it if you spoke to HER directly!”
    Presumptions come in all shapes and sizes and are, most often, sad. Presumptions about the worth of people, or any sentient beings for that matter, get in the way of investigating, learning, and growing WITH each other.
    Perhaps we could start a course on RELEVANCE & PRESUMPTIONS 101 and bring the basics of humanity and community back into our culture!!! ~Just a thought…..and thanks for yours :>)

    • Thanks Dinah! Yet another and very valuable take on relevance and I thank you so much for sharing it! 🙂

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