I got a catalog in the mail the other day and it carried a message that I had to read twice.
It went something like this: Age should not define you. This is your time. Be bold. Wear bright colors. When other people sit on the sidelines and chat, get up and dance. When they say your skirts are too short, tell them to mind their own business. Be bold.
You’ve probably guessed why I read that message twice.
It described Nurse Judy, my exhibitionist alter-ego, to a tee.
She fights old age with every fiber in her body.
She uses every cosmetic or artifice she can to erase the ravages of time. She lies about her age and dresses inappropriately.
She dashes onto the dance floor of the Moose Lodge and makes a fool of herself even when she has to dance alone (If you remember she was square-dancing when she fell and broke her shoulder).
She can’t stand the sidelines. She has to participate even if it means shouting out answers that no one can hear on “Jeopardy.” She has never been shy about promoting herself. She has always been bold.
I have to admit I am not like that. I am old and I am tired. I feel like I would like to sit and read. I feel like I would like to watch TV, rather than go out. Her jumping up-and-down and shouting out answers annoys me.
I feel like I should retire from all my jobs and relax. She refuses to hear it and pushes me out the door.
I go to the Moose to play Bingo and my poor bad knees do not want to dance. I am happy to sit and listen to the music. Why can’t she just calm down? I’m embarrassed watching her out there dancing.
Everyone knows my garment of choice is an old, disheveled, stained and aromatic bathrobe. Even though I know I can’t wear it to go out (although it does make it to the mailbox frequently), simple baggy Gramma jeans and a sweatshirt are fine with me.
Nevertheless, she has me dressed like a cross between Barbie and Betty Boop for most outings. I have spangles and bling-bling and ruffles and tight-fitting clothes on a body that has no resemblance to either Barbie or Miss Boop. There is more adipose tissue poking out from under those tight garments than there are on a hog ready for market.
The sidelines are a nice safe space for an old person to be. I’m happy there but she must always seek the limelight. I am happy being a doddering old fool but she just won’t let me stay in my dull, contented rut.
You must see how really difficult it is to have to live with this alter-ego of mine. I am going to be bold and tell her I’m not putting up with it anymore.
“Nurse Judy,” I begin.
“Stop,” she says. “I read what you wrote. You cannot get rid of me. No one reads a column about a doddering old fool. Everyone likes to read about me. You are nothing without me.”
I think about this. Okay, she’s right, but I am still going to be bold. I am going to try and resist her most outlandish ideas and costumes. Well, I guess that’s what I’ve been doing all these years.
I guess the two of us will just keep muddling along and maybe together we’re not completely obnoxious.