Ixnay on the aisleypay

undie_granny

Believing that your mother wears these is key to keeping the world sane.

Right up front, I want to warn you that this post contains material that many of you may consider obscene. I don’t want to reveal too much upfront for the simple reason that I never really know, up front, exactly where my writing will take me. I do, however, feel confident in saying that the words ‘sexual intercourse’ will occur in the same sentence as the word <your mother’s name here>.

<insert sound of galloping feet fading into the distance>

Um. Right. I see, Well let’s have a nice cosy chat, just the two of us. I’ll put the kettle on for tea.

Some few years ago, my youngest son, Bincent (I am using a pseudonym to protect his privacy), said “Mum, don’t ever get that old lady haircut. You know, the one that looks like a ball stuck on your head.” I was a bit perplexed but then again, Bincent often has that effect on people (see his twitter feed if you don’t believe me). I reassured him that I have worn my hair long for the last thirty years and I see no particular reason to change. I have always found long hair to be so very practical. I pin it up when I am hot, let it down when I want to keep the sun off the back of my neck, and stick shiny pins in it if I am going somewhere special. Maintenance is simple: every few months, or in some cases, years, I pop down to the local Hair Hackery and get them to lop off a couple of inches in exchange for a tenner. Sure, they occasionally lop off a chunk of ear or two (yes, really) but they don’t charge extra for it and isn’t that what matters?

I lived thus in happy obliviousness to my doom until this very morning.

As I partook of the early morning caffeinated beverage with my good friend Berri Bray. I mentioned that her hair, a shoulder length blond affair, looked good and her expression darkened. Apparently, and her hairdresser is on a Mission to give her A Nice Sensible Cut. Thus, Berri’s formerly relaxing hairdo appointments have turned into an ongoing skirmish where Berri asserts her right to have just a trim and in return, the lady with the scissors attempts to lop off four or more inches. Starting in the back.

More ominous still, Berri’s trips to Nordies have entered strange and dark territories. Berri, a babe more at home in a bikini than a suit (although her unenlightened employers, Bells Bargo, frown at the former as professional attire), has a lot of nice togs. I am not personally acquainted with style (insert a discussion about research, academia and the art of being taken seriously here  –> <>) but said threads must be decent because her twenty-five year old daughter does not disdain the odd foray into her mum’s closet. On the contrary, in fact.

So, back to Nordies. Well, Berri has noticed on her last few shopping expeditions that when she asks for help selecting a sweater or such, the sales person will suggest something squarish with a nice paisley print. Or worse still, an anchor. AN ANCHOR, I TELL YOU!!!!

I think we all see the trend here. Shorter hair, nice square shape-hiding clothes in tried-and-true old lady styles. Presumably, next they will try and sell her figure-hugging knickers that fit snuggly under the armpits (I deliberately mention knickers because WordPress informs me that my most popular posts include that word. Know your readership, they say.).

Although I am much, much younger than Berri (more than a year younger, as it happens), I too have run into similar problems. Well, not about clothes or hair, because most people have long since given up on me (except the Paris fashion police, aka my sisters, who recently casually remarked recently that long hair just looks wrong on an older woman and that it might be nice if I used an iron occasionally), but I keep running into people of the crass young male type who assume that I am a moron as if diminishing sex appeal is causally related to cerebral hypotrophy (or possibly the opposite. It’s hard to think down to that level).

For example, a young man at the gym mentioned a stats class he was struggling with and I said “What happened?” and he clarified “Stats is statistics.”

Yeah, because  I need some punk who can’t climb a 5.10c to tell me what stats means.

There was also the time at the gym when I complimented a young man on his t-shirt that referenced Schrödinger’s cat and he replied in a patronizing tone “Do you know what Schrödinger’s cat is?

Yes, I do, you smug, sexist asshole.

I liked that about as much as I liked Hillary Rodham Clinton being dismissed as a presidential candidate in 2008 as “the old white woman’s choice.”

So get this, your mother is bright, knowledgeable and wise. She knows more about programming and statistics than you do. She is politically savvy and she is no cheery idealist. She knows what works because she was paying fucking attention the first time round.

Oh, and yeah, she’s likely getting more great sex than you are, loser.

Deal with it.

Getting back to perfume, (she said, in an elegant segue), today I am wearing Coco by Chanel (vintage EDP). A bit big-hair eighties but less unfortunate than Diva (Ungaro) and Giorgio by Giorgio, both of which I tested last week. Diva, initially very pleasant, outlasted its welcome by approximately five hours and I had had enough of Giorgio by the time I finished breakfast and I was thankfully able to scrub it off in the shower.

Today’s truly delightful illustration is filched from here. I included it as a nod to all the 50 year old women I know who buy these specifically to wear to doctor and hospital appointments. Just in case anyone sees their regular undies (possibly not so granny-like) and gets the wrong idea?

 

 

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The perils of code switching: a cautionary tale

I am just back from France where I keep my extended family. Presumably, they live in closets and boxes for eleven months of the year and, just before my arrival, they jump out and start living regular lives. At least, that’s what I would like to believe but I suspect that they live rich and fulfilling lives even when I am not around. Amazing.

My family has many interesting characteristics such as a tendency to wake up at 2am and have an extended chat about ghosts. They also talk a lot in the daytime and they do that talking in a charming charabia of English and French (more technically, code switchery).  Among themselves, they speak a version of English that was common (pun intended) in the Greater London area some thirty years ago interspersed with Parisian French. It’s a mess to any sane listener but it sounds like home to me. And it is occasionally hilarious.

Case in point: my sister Baroline (this happened to her, but honestly, it could have been any member of my family) had just purcahsed a brand new cell phone. One evening, we sat drinking tea and watching as her incredibly patient and tech-savvy daughter Blaura did the set up (where did she learn that stuff? She’s a law student for heaven’s sake).  Blaura told her mother that she should get a nice hard shell for her phone to prevent it getting broken. My sister replied that she thinks that shells make the phones too clunky and that she prefers her nice phone without a shell. My husband helpfully pointed out that my phone has a nice big purple rubber shell. Blaura mentioned that you can get a nice thin bumper shell that just protects the edges of the phone. Adamant, Baroline stuck to her guns. No shell would disfigure her beautiful phone.

So, why was this funny? Well, Blaura was talking in French and her mother was responding in English but using the French word for shell:

“Tu devrais mettre une cocque sur ton portable pour eviter de le casser.”

“No, I hate cocques. Cocques make your phone big and clunky.”

“Oui, mais si tu le fais tomber, c’est fini. Il faudra le remplacer.”

“I don’t care. Cocques are ugly.”

“Rebecca has a nice big purple cocque on her phone” (helpful interjection from my husband).

“Ou alors, tu peux essayer un bumper. C’est moins gros.”

“I’ve seen the bumper cocques and they are too big. This phone is just too beautiful to put a cocque on it.”

On the plus side, my husband, the only person in the room to notice a certain ambiguity, had a very entertaining time.

 

 

 

 

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