There are fault lines, I am finding out, between my generation and all others. And where I assumed there was commonality, there is, but only the thinnest shreds. What is coming my way is the benevolent indulgence of younger women for my having attitudes and behavior that hearken from another era.
Take the word cunt, for instance. After my post yesterday, The C-Word, I was gently schooled about how cunt-saying norms have changed. It’s common among younger women, I was told, very common in Europe and Australia. I had no idea. It’s still a word that is venomous to me, sickening, enraging but I guess I’m old school. Fine.
And bare legs with a dress and heels. It makes so much sense but it is so foreign. So I always wear pants. Until the other night when I wore a dress with a dynamite pair of new black patent leather heels with off-black hose and felt like a million bucks. That silky feeling, those perfect legs, the swinging foot. It could have been 1990, it felt that great.
Wherever I go lately, it seems that I am the oldest person in the room. At an enormous luncheon a few days ago, I marveled at seeing a single other woman who possibly could have been my age. Everyone else literally could have been my daughter and some, with a few teen births here and there, could have been my granddaughters. In this environment, it seems like the world wants to pat my hand and tell me I am amazing for an older woman in much the same way that some men used to tell me I was pretty smart for a girl. I don’t resent either sentiment, oddly, I take them as compliments. People mean well. I think.
It is unsettling to realize that I am swimming further and further out of the mainstream. My sensibilities are dated. Everything about me that’s important started fifty years ago. Civil rights, anti-poverty, anti-war, women’s movement. The voices and people from that time are my icons and I roam through life like all that shit happened yesterday. I watched a documentary about the 60’s that featured Bobby Kennedy standing on the back of a car telling an enormous crowd of black people that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed and he did it with such enormous compassion and eloquence that the crowd came together and it seemed like it happened yesterday. I still believe all the things he said. It’s what I carry in my soul purse, if you will. But it is an old, old purse. I am just now realizing that I have one goddamn very old purse.
My mother’s old purse was the Depression. The making-do, the darning, the potato soup, the endurance, the never complaining., the waiting for catastrophe. And the seams. Her seams were always straight and her slip never showed.
No one wears a slip anymore.