My Wednesday did not begin as expected. I blame the New York Times--not unlike blaming the patriarchy.
The food section, known officially as "Dining and Wine," appears this day, perfectly midweek for as long as I can recall. Even when its contents are too rich--restaurants with $60 entrees breathlessly reviewed or kitchen equipment no one needs--I look forward to turning its pages. Perhaps this week a wonderful recipe will appear.
Turning the first page I could not miss this Tony Cenicola photo. Though in black/white in my newspaper, it was startling with its size right in the middle of the page: eleven by six inches. It dominated the top half of page D3 and was not even about food.
"There's a Younger Hand on the Granny Cart" was the heart-breaking and l-o-n-g piece by Helene Stapinksi. Feel her pain:
"I remember the moment I realized that I might have to cave in and buy a granny cart....I was no longer a young mother but a 46-year-old aging parent, lost in that twilight time between pushing a stroller and driving a motorized scooter."
Good grief, I thought, are these girls (I'm sure that's how she sees herself) finished with life so early? What happened to all those decades later that many of us enjoyed--the fifties, the sixties, the seventies. Okay, as I move toward eighty, the view is more limited.
Next Helene focuses on disguises for her awful, potential cart. Maybe one that looks like a baby stroller. A salesman supports her disgust, "...useful but an eyesore."
Doing due diligence-- putting off the purchase that will brand her as old-- Helene checks out Trader Joe's in Brooklyn and is relieved to see a 23 year old with a small blue, "nonna cart." Classier in Italian? Was it possible that these awful necessities were on their way to:
...hip, urban accessory and I was on the cusp of a trend, not the verge of decrepitude.
Doesn't that statement cry out for a tee-shirt design. On the front, "I'm a trend-setter in NYC" and the crisp Cenicola photo on the back. Tthe Times could produce it as a special for anxious forty-somethings in New York-New Jersey-Connecticut.
A true "Sex in the City" girl, she sucks it up by the end of the piece, shells out $27.99, accepts that she will not look cool. Accepts her dark fate, Helene ends with another of her many ageist stereotypes:
...ready to knock over anyone who looks at me funny.
Before I finished the paper, those Times' editors had another punch waiting. This one in the Sports section about Janet Evans, an Olympic swimmer in California who'd taken time off to have two children.
I struggled with turning 40...Someone said, 'How do you feel now that your life is half over?' I wasn't ready to accept that it was all downhill from here...
Did you hear me screaming? In a week when women's reproductive lives are on the line, is Janet Evans aware that the future of her five year old daughter is threatened, and for crying out loud, she blithely joins her sister on the other coast to perseverate about getting old. I notice that her discomfort with aging did not stand in the way of signing on to sponsor ("business partnership") that older people's favorite, Metamucil.
This is why I did/still do feminism?
At least there was a recipe, "Perserved Lemons Brighten a Stir-Fry" which in my old lady way, I tore out for a future meal for me and my old man. Thanks to you Food Writer, Melissa Clark; I definitely do not want to know your politics.