One of my favorite people in the world is a not-quite-retired teacher from San Luis Obispo. I love her because she possesses a rapier wit, an upbeat personality, a quirky tangential mind and she’s older than I am. Not by much, I grant you, but even just a few months brightens my day.
Sometimes I think senior citizens (read: me) play the age game like we did in second grade, but now we play in reverse. Instead of, “Neener, neener, I’m seven and three-quarters and you’re only seven and a half,” it’s, “Neener, neener, I’m only 67 and five-twelfths and you’re 68!” OK, so I’m the only one I know who says that; I’m the first to admit, no one wanted to sit next to me in Grade 2.
It was a glorious Labor Day afternoon in Avila Beach when I last saw Ms. Older Than Me. The riff raff had departed, the concert was free and the libations were flowing. Several friends and I carefully placed the golf course’s 150-pound Adirondack chairs in a spot for optimum viewing and settled in next to the putting green for an afternoon of entertainment and relaxation.
I gazed across the lagoon area and indulged in a moment of nostalgia, mentally reminiscing about the lazy summer days spent there when my kids were little. I mentally blocked the schlepping of chairs, cooler, umbrella, sand toys, snacks, towels, Boogie boards, sunscreen, and three children from the car to the beach. I found out many years later that only two-thirds of my offspring were enjoying themselves. It seems my youngest hates sand.
I always thought he didn’t want to go because his lips turned purple and his teeth chattered for 45 minutes every time he went in the water. I also didn’t dwell on the fact that in the ’80s, the water coming in from the creek was probably a far cry from pristine. But, my children don’t seem to have sustained any lasting damage, although my youngest may still hold the sand thing against me.
But I digress. Meanwhile, at the concert, a small part of the Air Force band was performing, to be followed by my husband Mick’s rock ’n’ roll band. It’s not really his band of course, but I like to call it that in the newspaper to boost his self-esteem. I was involved in a quiet conversation during a break in the music, when I was startled by a gasp of horror from two chairs down.
“OMG, I’m older than the Air Force!” Ms. SLO friend had actually been listening to the commentary and was startled (read: horrified) to learn that the United States Air Force, was, along with me, her junior.
I worked assiduously, along with the rest of our party, to calm the poor woman, all the while secretly smug in the knowledge that I was not more “mature” than a branch of our fighting forces. After meditation, positive self talk and a Zen-like effort to be present in the moment, Ms. SLO finally calmed herself. The extra glass of wine didn’t hurt either.
I’m happy to report that a bit later, friend from SLO was relieved to learn that she was, at least, younger than Labor Day, which was established in 1889. Meanwhile, the rock ’n’ roll started and we danced like no one was watching, although we knew they were and probably thinking, “Those women look like they’re older than the Air Force!”
Being the ace cub reporter that I am, I did some fact-checking on the Internet when I arrived home. I Googled, “When was the Air Force founded?” and if I had been my mother I would have said, “Oh my goodness!”
But being a woman of a subsequent generation, and far less genteel, I said, “Holy ----, I’m older than the Air Force, too!”
Damn, it turns out, in terms of the youngest branch of the armed services, those few months were not on my side. I can hear the “neener, neener” all the way from San Luis Obispo!