Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mustaches, Mismatched Socks, Sequins and Penny Loafers

Larry and I just got back from walking at the mall.   Yes, we have joined the ranks of the other geezers in town and have gone for a daily walk three times this week.    I say "geezers" because the only people doing the walking are folks of our age and some quite a bit older than us.   And if you think I am being snarky to call them geezers, think again.    Many of those making their rounds were going a lot faster than us and had more pep in their step than many people half their age.    Quite the contrary, I admire those gray haired high steppers who are faithfully making their way through the tiled path at the local mall.  

The primary reason for our new found desire to walk the mall is the realization that we're too sedentary, too out of shape and just too lacking in energy to be healthy.    We have places to go, people to see and it's hard to do those things when you're "too pooped to pop" as Lucy Ricardo once said.    So after acknowledging that walking out in the fresh air along a nice, paved path down the street from our house is totally impractical when the humidity is 97 % and the mosquitoes have been known to carry off small dogs in our area, it dawned on us that there is a reason the mall opens 2 hours early for people to stroll along its empty hallways.      Climate controlled.    Safe.    Flat (except for a few ramps/steps).   Display windows with the latest fashions to entertain us.  Water fountains and bathrooms conveniently placed---just in case.   What more could anyone want?

So today as we meandered along looking at sequined tops, one shouldered sun dresses, Little Mismatch Socks, sparkly sandals and neon tennis shoes,  I suddenly knew why some of my younger relatives dress the way they do.   At family gatherings and celebrations, I have often marveled at their fashions but since I haven't darkened the doors of a mall until recently, I had no idea what the styles of the day had become.     This morning's outing certainly gave me an epiphany.   

There were a few things we saw that I attempted to explain to Larry since he is clueless when it comes to fashion.    His philosophy about clothing is that if it's clean, covers his nakedness and is not a white shirt, he is happy.   So as we were passing the Claire's I pointed out the mustache display that had a sign above it saying "Mustache Mania".    I mentioned to him that mustaches seem to be all the rage these days.   For girls.   That was as far as I got with the explanation because, frankly, I have NO idea how I know this nor do I know WHY it is a fad.    Maybe one of my readers could  leave a comment and fill me in on the details of this mysterious "must have".  

As I was pointing out the sequined, animal print tops in another display I felt a slight twinge as a memory stored somewhere deep within the folds of my cerebellum sprang to life.     It was 1963 and my family had just moved to Ft. Worth, Texas from Jackson, Mississippi.    I had just finished 9th grade and was anticipating going to high school for the first time the next fall.    Naturally a girl of that age starts noticing what the other girls are wearing.    I was involved in my church youth group shortly after we moved to Texas so among the first things I noticed was that every girl had some cut off jeans, a pair of penny loafers and white Levis.     It became obvious to me that if I didn't have those things I would stick out like a sore thumb among my peers.     I set up a howl like you would not believe until I got a few of the necessary items to make me fit in with the new school mates I would soon be meeting.   

Once I got those things, I thought I had arrived.    There is a photograph of me somewhere (hopefully it's lost to the ages) when we had just come back home after a 3 week trip through Mexico.   I am standing by our 1960 station wagon, posing like I was a model for Seventeen Magazine---my fashion Bible at the time.    I have on wrap around sunglasses, cut off shorts and penny loafers with crew socks.   I think I might even have my wrist slightly bent, casually showing my disdain for the whole affair.    Oh, yeah, I was cool and I knew it.   

And that memory popped into my head this morning when I saw all the latest fashions and realized why my nieces and granddaughter want to dress the way they do.    It is no different for them than it was for me all those years ago.    When you're young it is all about finding out who you are, how to fit in and be confident in yourself.    It is a process that evolves over time until one day you do develop your own style, your comfort zone, your own way to be.    But it's does not stop.   The process keeps on going in our lives.

Ask me how I know this?   It's because along with the sudden realization of why the young ones do what they do, I came to understand that Larry and I are still evolving in who we are.    Retirement brings abrupt and dramatic changes to your life.    Suddenly you're not in the familiar routine any more.    There are no alarms clocks to roust you out of bed every day.     No wardrobe worries.    No traffic to navigate.    It's just you and 12 - 18 hours of freedom every day.   As I told someone shortly after we retired, "Every day is Saturday when you retire."   

We are still figuring out who we are now that we don't do the jobs we used to do.  My old life involved lots of paperwork, employee issues, conference calls and dealing with state bureaucracy over our funding.   Larry's life involved a lot of physical labor, along with a hefty dose of electronic record keeping and making sure everything he did was done by the rules and within his own exacting standards.    Neither of us has to worry about any of that any more.     So where do we go from here?     Am I a writer, an artist?  A better cook?    Is he a carpenter?   A story teller and entertainer to his grandchildren?    Just who we are and what we'll be is developing as we go along.    The trick is to get comfortable with the process and figure out what it is that will signal we have arrived at our new persona.    I don't think I'll be wearing wrap around shades any time soon, but I sure do hope I meet back up with that girl who thought she had it all posing in her cut-offs and penny loafers.   

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure, but I think that when that process of figuring out who you are and who you want to be stops, it means that either you're dead or you might as well be.


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