I want to praise old dolls. Old dolls is the phrase that’s been coming over and over to me. In the despair at the horse hairs coming from my chin and the widening gulf between myself and the models in Gap advertisements; lost brooding at being older than the parents of some of my co-workers. In the midst of all this middle-age angst I have recently noticed a few older women at work, and seen them possessed of great style and handsome age and expertise.
I was at a family restaurant in the western reaches of Halifax, one of those places that does not offer brown rice on the menu and where some women diners wear hats and go for a Sunday supper.
The waitress was professional. She was not a college student dressed in black, more hip to the music than the menu. She knew it all. She noticed a spoon missing from the table.
Probably, she was sixty.
It seemed that she had been on the job for a long time, she did her job so well, unlike the youngsters who feel obliged to let you know they are destined for so much more in life, and therefore find it too trivial to do a good job at waitressing when good service from an older woman plunking down hot food in front of you is one of the nicest things there is.
This waitress brought everything before she was asked to. She was firm about no substitutions. She called me “dear.” She lingered for a moment to rest her feet. I felt taken care of. I never feel that way with the young ones.
I met another old doll, probably no older than me, in the emergency department of a hospital. She was a great nurse — calm, funny, supportive, competent. She exuded enough peace and security that her patient, who could have been in great distress, actually felt peace and security. I mentioned this nurse to a friend who is also a nurse, and he said, that’s what twenty years of experience gets you.
And I thought yes, and gave thanks for people, women in particular, who have been around long enough to have people skills, some modicum of serenity, expertise in what they do and some idea of what’s important and what isn’t.
And the other recent notice of old dolls I’ve made is in relation to incontinence. There are more and more ads for adult diapers on television and in magazines, and large sections of drug stores given over to incontinence products. And I have been thinking that with an aging population, this makes some sense, and that as we all get older, sooner or later talking about stress-related incontinence is going to be something we talk about with more people than our closest pals in our closest moments. I read in the National Post that in the forty- to fifty-five-year-old age group the number of women versus men running marathons drops by seventy-five per cent.
That makes me sad. I wish that more old dolls would keep running, or serving up hot pork sandwiches or tending to the sick, or whatever all the old dolls do, just be around for the grace of them, and I hope that some of it rubs off on me.
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