Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It’s Hammer (Toe) Time

Last week, I spent spring break with a group of friends at Fernandina, a gorgeous old beach community on the Atlantic coast of Florida. It’s a group I hadn’t seen much of in recent years and we were excited to get together to catch up, chill out, and maybe even get down. We were going to be away from our husbands (those of us who still have one) and we planned to stay up late and be as raucous as we wanted in our borrowed vacation home. Dianne kept saying something about dancing on tables like we used to do, and I could see it happening, being that we would be a couple hundred miles away from home with no supervision. At the very least, maybe we could share crazy stories about our exciting lives.

We five women have a long history. We met when we were first married and just beginning to birth little ones. Throughout the years, when we would get together, our girl talk would center on whatever was important to us at the time. In our twenties, it was clothes and babies; in our thirties, diets and children; in our forties, PMS and teen-agers; and in our early fifties, we obsessed over empty nests and hot flashes.

I couldn't wait to see what would come up this time as we were all currently in our late fifties and early sixties. Now that we were older and less encumbered with work and children, would our interests revolve around more exciting topics? Would our talk be of younger men or increased sex drives or going back to school to become a bartender or masseuse? Had any of us taken pole-dancing lessons?

Susan had made the reunion happen. A friend of hers had purchased a get-away home one block from the beach and we were the lucky recipients of the friend’s generosity. We all arrived and unpacked after calling dibs on one of a couple of sleeping options. I ended up with the fold-out couch in the downstairs den, which was okay with me as I figured, what with all the hell raising I was going to be doing, I wouldn't be spending much time down there anyway.

The first evening, after a celebratory glass of white wine, we went early for dinner and ate inside the restaurant instead of on the patio because, well, it was a bit cool and noisy out in the wild and some of us had forgotten our sweaters and some of us have a hard time hearing if there's too much commotion. After we ate, we headed back to our island home and were in our jammies before seven. By eight-thirty, I was exhausted and ensconced in my fold-out bed, trying to stay awake long enough to hear what the others were undoubtedly saying about me.

The next day was more exciting as we were well rested and ready to go. We went to the beach in the morning before the sun got too hot, but, by noon, we were hungry and I needed a nap, so we went back and ate pimento cheese and chicken salad sandwiches.

Later in the afternoon, we went shopping in the charming village, and spent our time dipping in and out of shops, looking for mementos of our trip and asking a very patient waiting husband of another woman to take a group picture. Since Patty and I aren't much for shopping, she and I stood on the sidewalk a lot, holding our pocket books and basking in the Florida sun. After a kindly shopkeeper asked if we thought we could make it up the stairs to her second-floor gallery (we could), we gave up and ate at a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor and then went back home, once again, anticipating the elasticity of our pajama waistbands.

But that night would be a late night, not another eight-thirty night of reading in my portable bed before the sun went down. After continuing our dinner celebration with some cookies for dessert, we settled in, getting into a deep discussion about favorite books and authors, a discussion somewhat diminished by the fact that none of us could remember the names of either the books or the authors. At some point, the talk somehow veered from literary preferences to trying to remember the name of Ellen Degeneres’ current romantic partner. The discussion went something like this:

What's Ellen’s new girlfriend's name?
Ellen has a new girlfriend?
Yeah, she's an actress. She used to be on that show.
What show?
What was the name of that show?
The one with the girl who’s with what’s his name.
The old actor who's still hot.
What’s his name?
Remember, he used to be in those movies.
What movies?
What were the names of those movies he was in?
They're together although I don’t think they're married.
Are you still talking about Ellen and her girlfriend?
No, the main character. The one with the same name as the snow.
What’s her name?
What was the name of the show?
What are the names of those movies what’s his name was in.
Who's what's his name and what does he have to do with Ellen?

All I can say is thank God for Google. How did the elderly survive
in the olden days without the internet?

You'd think all the excitement over books and the beach and shopping and eating and old hot what's his name would have been enough for our sprightly group, our gaggle of still happening ladies of a certain age, but that's not so. There was another topic, a topic that garnered our attention at every juncture, at every segue, at any point when the conversation lapsed, not for just that one evening, but for the entire trip. It was the one thing that absolutely commanded our attention the whole time we were there, and that thing was


Every time I looked up, someone (including me) was investigating her foot and pointing either at her big toe or the sole of her foot or her heel or somewhere on top. The terms bandied about included bone spurs, planters warts, fallen arches, dead toenails, morning feet, night feet, and the good old hammer toe. But the bottom line was that our feet hurt! All of us. Every one of us had feet that hurt. Carol has rheumatoid arthritis and has had metal rods put through her toes. You'd think that would have shut the rest of us up, but it didn't. We kept on about our feet. We didn't talk about younger men or stripper poles or even becoming bartenders, because how could anyone pursue any of those things with feet that hurt?

I have to say, now that I'm back home and sleeping in my very own real bed, I'm so happy we five had some time together, not because it was particularly exciting, but because I finally had a group of people whose minds and bodies function like mine. Since I work with mostly young people and have young people as offspring and teach really young people, I've become accustomed to folks finishing my thoughts for me. Talking to me is typically like playing a very sad game of charades with me saying things like thingamajig and whatchamacallit, and, yes, what's his name a lot. With this group, our game had no winners, only losers, which made it an equal playing field and not quite so sad. In fact, it was a lot of fun! And then there was the foot thing. That was a blast! Having people share their gross foot stories was great. It made me feel not quite so alone in my old age.

So, here's to old friends. May we live long enough to have another spend-the-night party. Next time, I have dibs on the good bed, and maybe, instead of shopping, we should just get a foot massage.


Anonymous said...

Well said!! I had a blast even without dancing on tables. We can save that for next year after our pedicures (which I had to have one after the trip) Love all of you.

YeVette said...

I know...I know. It is amazing how it takes not much to put us down. On our recent spring break trip (with Ali to the beach)...it was me who said "I'm thirsty.", "I'm tired." "I'm ready for a snack." I was the one who fell off the bike. I was the one who wanted ice cream at 10 in the morning. Plus quess what, I was the one who complained about her shoes and feet. Lord, help me.

Melissa said...

I'm still laughing. God bless girlfriends who UNDERSTAND!

Anonymous said...

When I was recently in Florida for the wedding of an old friend, it was similiar to your story. I can relate. There was a group of 5 of us who have known us for 40-45 years. We had a great time, a confused time, a conflicted time. I'm not ready to write about it yet. It's still stewing inside of me.
Mary B

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