Minds are funny things. Sometimes if we’re “of a different mind” from another person, we secretly think, “Gee, what an idiot!” Sometimes we even say it.
We do tend to give a little slack to the very young and the very old, though. In the young, we understand that their experience, which is usually minimal, gives them a much more narrow view of the world and what happens here.
My friend Ann recently told me some funny things her grandchildren said. While their house was under construction for an extended period, Ann’s son and his family—six altogether—stayed at her house. One day Ann’s granddaughter asked her, with great curiosity, “Grandma, where do you live?”
If you think about it, it’s a good question. After all, Elizabeth’s family had been staying there for quite a while, and she assumed it was “her” house. Grandma and Grandpa may have been in and out, off to work, shopping, and all that, but Elizabeth didn’t know where they went. For all she knew, they went “home.”
Elizabeth also had a rather different view of men’s hair loss. Sitting at the kitchen counter while her grandfather was making himself something to eat, she said aloud, to no one in particular, “Grandpa doesn’t have enough hair.”
When kids say things like that, we think it’s hilarious and darn cute. We give our senior citizens the same gentle treatment. Coming from anyone else, we’d call it clueless, or even obnoxious.
My mother-in-law, who is nearing year 102 in a rich life, nine times out of ten does very well being “with it.” But sometimes, illness, or unfamiliar surroundings or people will throw her off. At times like that she has particular trouble understanding generations. She knows that her children are her children, but on the rare occasion will think her kids are the same generation as her grandchildren, or even in her generation.
Once the two of us were chatting with a woman who was pretty far along in her pregnancy, but had a month or two to go. Jo, uncharacteristically, asked her when she was due. Jo isn’t rigidly proper, but she knows what is expected in polite society.
On this particular day, however, she seemed to have forgotten her Emily Post rules of conduct, because she said to the woman, “You are so big!” That wasn’t the end of it, though. Then she said, “I wasn’t that big when I was pregnant with the twins (Nick and Nan)!”
Jo then turned to me and said, “Was I, Fran?”
Well, I didn’t want to be drawn into this conversation at all, and certainly not as a witness. And I had the perfect way to bow out. “I don’t know, Jo,” I said. “I wasn’t around then.”
Jo looked at me with an expression that said, “Who are you trying to kid?” But she said, “Well where were you?” In her mind that particular day, I was of her generation—both of us mothers who had known each other a long time. Truth be told, I feel almost 102 from time to time.
I, myself, am not immune to such social gaffes. I was talking to my daughter and a friend of hers one day in my kitchen. The conversation turned to French manicures. I said I didn’t like them, and for good measure blurted out, “It looks especially dopey on toenails!”
Immediately I looked down, and sure enough, Zoe had a French pedicure. “I hope you’re not sensitive,” I said, as if that would make it better.
It would be good, I think, if I could treat everyone with the same degree of tolerance I do babies and senior citizens. But I know me, as a fellow publisher used to say, and it’s not going to happen. I will try to remember my Miss Manners, however.
Alternate side parking fees
The son of a woman I know received an alternate side parking ticket in the last storm. So she went down to the Law Enforcement Center to pay the fine, intending to go next to Borkowski’s lot in Goodview to pick up the car.
By the time she got to the LEC, the door was locked, since it was after 4 p.m. She didn’t realize that there is a button to push that notifies someone inside the LEC to let you in. Once in, after hours, you can pay your alternate side parking ticket. You may have to wait, because of reduced staff, but you can pay the fine twenty-four hours a day.
You should be able to avoid paying for an extra day, if you are able to get out to Borkowski’s before they close at five. Then again, you can call them and they will open up after hours if you really need your car, but there is a charge for that.
Your best bet to pay those tickets and towing fees is to do it first thing in the morning if you can. And at least Alternate Side Parking only lasts another 5 weeks—until November.