In Defense of Little Old Ladies

There is no such thing as a little old lady. Now, someone might look like a little old lady, dress like a little old lady, or even walk slowly and use a cane.  But, there is no such thing.  Little old ladies do not exist, except in movies and books, short stories and fables.  However, that elderly woman who lives down the street from you is not a little old lady.

When I was a very young lady, and working as an “executive secretary,” some of the supposed little old ladies tried to get me fired. These little old ladies looked like someone straight out of a Norman Mailer painting.  But, they were not sweet, they didn’t necessarily love children, and they were ruthless.  Think Joan Rivers and Joan Crawford (“Mommie Dearest”) or even Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. Not to mention Hillary Clinton, Maya Angelou and Gloria Steinem. These were or are all unofficial sweet little old ladies.  There was nothing, and is nothing, sweet or little about any of them.

How do I know this? Because I am supposed to be a little old lady (being 62 years old) and I’m not.  A few of my co-workers, who are in their 60s and 70s are supposed to be little old ladies, but they’re not. They love their makeup, they dye their hair, and some of them love new and trendy clothes.  If you even vaguely imply that they are little old ladies, you’ll hear a response worthy of a millennial’s respect.

Even when they can barely move, have lost teeth, and have sparse, white hair, they do not think of themselves are little or old. They still look at young ladies (and men) through the filter of youth.  Their bodies might be racked with arthritic pain, and they may be taking 3 or 4 (or more) different medications, but they see themselves as perpetually 35 years old.  I’ve seen little old ladies eyeing the bodies of young men and women, and they sincerely believe that their own body looks relatively the equal.

Are they in denial? For sure.  But, there are circumstances where they briefly break through that denial.  At yet another job, there was a little old lady who had the hots for a very young man.  Almost daily, she’d describe what she would do with that young man given the opportunity.  But, she realized that it was “just a fantasy.”  That didn’t stop her from flirting with him, or slowing passing by his cubicle while swinging her generous hips his way.  She still had hope.  I’m not sure if anything ever came of her subtle advances, but she had hope that something just might happen.  Nowadays, she’d be called a cougar.  Not a very nice word, but one that is used to describe little old ladies who lust after and pursue young men (or women).

Now, there are circumstances where being a little old lady can come in handy. If I’m stopped by a traffic cop, I’m less likely to get a ticket, and more likely to get a good scolding.  More young men hold doors open for me.  I’m more invisible now – a bit of ageism comes into play – but that’s usually okay.  However, I’m less patient but more tolerant, less judgmental but more observant, less accepting but more loving, but I am not a little old lady.

They just simply do not exist.

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