So we just returned from Corvallis where the Ranger underwent a minor procedure, but no worries, Dr. Schwartz, a fast-talking smarty-pants, delivered a clean bill of health, yet still refused to give the Ranger one more intravenous ounce of that squeezed-from-organic-egg-whites sedative that made him so darn happy and groggy and capable of singing, "Sugar Pie! Sugar Pie! That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it. Uh-huh. Uh-huh" in a perfect falsetto. But enough about the Ranger. Back to me.
As is my nature, I nosed around in pre-op, pulling the Ranger's medical chart out of its neat little slot. Truly, I was only searching for lab results, because Yes, I can read them and I like to know what's what. And there SMACK on the front of the chart was a yellow Post-It note written by the prep nurse:
"The older woman with the patient is his girlfriend!
That's right. Underline. Exclamation Point! Why not just put up a fluorescent orange sign, "Beware. Cougar Crossing."
Okay, let's examine this one closely. First, of all, the word "older" made me wrap my silk scarf more tightly to hide that damning neck waddle since clearly SOMETHING was flashing my driver's license because it's not like I was humming the theme song to The Dick Van Dyke Show or regaling the staff about those glorious Camelot years. No, I blame it on the harsh overhead lighting.
And why the heads-up anyway? Whatever you do don't say, "Your son did great. You can take him home now" because she looks like the kind of woman who'd toss you up against the wall and breath expletives in your face with a voice that reeks of tequila. Or maybe the meaning was along the lines of, "Holy Smokes, how in the world did that Old Hippie, clutching her laptop and a pile of books, bag such a handsome whipper-snapper who clearly only has to shave once a week and then only in winter. Why even the charge nurse applauded when we rolled him over onto his back and that woman hasn't smiled in 20 years."
Now, you'd think. Nearly two years into this. My skin would be tougher. It's not like we don't get an earful from strangers in grocery lines, at bars, while riding in planes, standing in line with tourists, haggling for fish at the docks, or while squeezing produce at the farmer's market. I see the whispers behind cupped hands, the raised eyebrows, the winks, the dirty grins.
But really. This time. The bottom of my stomach dropped out.
I will always be the OLDER WOMAN!!!! He will always be the younger man. And although I wish it wouldn't matter so much to the world, what I really ask of the Universe... is that it didn't matter so much to me.