Monday, January 28, 2008

The Old and the Restless

Old people orchestra has started meeting again. I do not know what happened over the holiday break, but since my return I feel that the old people’s old people behavior has gotten out of hand. I am unbothered if my old friends want to breathe loudly through their mouths or fall asleep during practice. They are welcome to yell comments as if they have no internal monologue or take advantage of my young strength and make me carry heavy objects. What bothers me is when old people feel the need to bring the topic of death into otherwise light conversations. Marilyn and I were having a nice little talk about orchestra seating when she happened to mention that her last four stand partners have died. Then I was carrying Peggy’s upright bass to the closet when she let me know that she married her husband so that he could carry her bass for her, and then he, as she put it, “went and died on me.” I understand that death becomes an increasingly relevant topic as we get older, but for the 70+ crowd I think it is a bit cliché to just sprinkle conversations with death tidbits.

You know, in many ways old people are just like us, with two exceptions.
1) Old people get married after about forty minutes of dating. You know it’s true.
2) When old people fall, it is always serious. At the last concert, our conductor wore three-inch high heels, and the only thing discussed between orchestra members before the music began was the conductor’s impending danger. No one was nervous for their own performance; they were audibly concerned about the possibility of broken bones. I have watched two of my elderly relatives fall, and let me tell you, there is a reason for the concern. It’s horrifying to observe.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

2008 Thus Far

My parents have lived in the same house for 12 years and the same city for 32, and as I have moved home on a number of occasions, I see a lot of familiar faces around town. I currently live in the greeting safe zone: if I make eye contact with a familiar face, I give the half-smile acknowledgement with a possible head nod. I have mentioned this before, but I believe that this sort of social reticence is interpreted differently depending on the height of the woman exhibiting it. Quiet short women are shy; quiet tall women are cold. I am tall, therefore I am perceived as cold. Tall white women never get a break...

Anyway, I was thinking about these factors when it came time to choose a New Year's resolution. My two options appeared to conflict.

Option1: Become ruder, but for the sake of efficiency. I have found that I get better service from businesses when I wear heels and act annoyed. When I wear flats and smile, I get the runaround. (Yes Mac store, I mean you!)

Option 2: Risk the awkward conversation (and the runaround), and start greeting the familiar faces. Go to the extra effort of learning names, risk saying the wrong name, and begin to ask questions about their families, jobs, vacations, assets, medical histories, etc.

I chose both options. I will be ruder to strangers, and friendlier to the familiar faces, and try not to be too rude to the strangers so that if they eventually become familiar faces, I do not have to take them out for coffee to apologize.

I implemented Option 2 at the gym on January 2. It was the worst possible day to begin my New Year's resolution since everyone else in the entire world was beginning their New Year's resolution to get in shape, and the gym was ridiculously crowded. I persevered, and said "hi" once and "hey" twice. I thought the results were overwhelmingly positive: I received one "hi" and two "hey"s in response. It's going to be a really good year.