Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Punctuation Ruined My Day

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.


Mich said...

o-mi-gawd. I haven't been leaving many comments as I've been reading your posts on e-mail (thanks for's the lazy person's blogging). But...this just required a some feedback. Wow. It's like the moment people quit saying to me "you can't possibly have kids that old." It's like wondering who put my mom's picture on my driver's license. It's like wondering how I got a beer belly when I drink wine. Damn. Getting old is one thing. Having other people (and your own damn mutinous body) shove it in your face is another. Ah. I've vented. I feel better. Guess it's time for my nap now, 'cause that's what old people do.

Lisa The Pretty said...

I too read your posts via email but I had to jump on to your blog to see if you posted a picture! Guess I thought I might see a snap of the smiling nurse and what it was that she was eyeing. Or what a plate of hospital food would look like. Loved the references on how we can accidently give away our ages. Just the other day I mentioned Barbra Streisand and I got a very blank stare from a 18 year old. The Ranger does know who she is..doesn't he? If not, I'll assume it might be the drugs he's on.

Erin said...

I would have been tempted to take that post-it and stick it to my chest...or hand it to the nurse and tell her, "Maybe you should put this on the bulletin board in the staff lounge, because it doesn't really belong in a medical record."
Fantasies aside, I wish it didn't matter so much to you either, chica. And does it really matter to the world...or is it more a case of society raising its titillated but judgemental eyebrow at anything differing from "the norm" (whatever that is). Mixed race couples, same sex couples...they've all had their share of societal scrutiny and disapproval. Think of yourselves as forging a new frontier!
Ok, I'll shut up now.

jmax said...

Maybe you can get the Ranger to under-take age enhancing surgery. A little skin stretching around the eyes, some lipo injection near the jowels for that sagging look. Well get some salt and pepper in the hair. All is not lost!

Anonymous said...

all of the sudden the "younger people" look 12 years old - ever notice that? "older woman"???? how old was the nurse - another 12 year old in a professional job?

40+ isn't really an "older woman" is it?

Kylita said...

Honey Bunches ... I say, fuck all those people who are jealous ... any photos I've seen posted or you've sent to me you two look absolutely MADE for each other, and, again, screw them all!!! Yes, I agree, you should've taken the post-it and stuck it to a certain middle finger and stood in front of the nurse's station and made them feel like the stewed prunes that they are. My mom was 11 yrs younger than my Dad but she had white hair (like me) and he was tall, dark and "Clark Gable-ish" and she always had to hear how she'd really snagged herself quite the catch. Ranger loves you ... love him back, live your lives in romantic glee........and to those who judge sayeth: "Fucketh Thee!"
KLH xo

Anonymous said...

You can always be the OLDER WOMAN with a pretentious attitude to those who seem to have a nagative or envious approach to your relationship. Those people are truly just JEALOUS

Second Edition said...

Thank you all for your warm and funny comments. In my experience, nurses have "seen it all" and this particular nurse was quite a bit older than me, so I have to believe we were not her first Older Woman/Younger Man encounter. She did, however, say the Ranger reminded her so much of her maybe the Mama Bear in her was simply snarling at the Languid Cougar.