There are only so many women who can make sex jokes about slide rules.
For those of you who don’t know what a slide rule is, it’s a complicated ruler looking thing that helped you get through calculus back when the subject was invented…which is apparently like 1965 according to my father. I hear tell that you had to have a feel for the answer before using the contraption…which sounds a bit redundant to me. After having voiced my opinion however I was immediately silenced by guffaws and shocked gasps of sacrilege. Any engineer from back in t he day must have had wet dreams about the day technology moved passed the abacus and blessed them with the slide rule. Which is why, after handing my father her late husband’s old slide rule my Aunt Mabel commented to my mother- “You might not get some for a while”.
Now if you were blessed with any deductive reasoning at all you might guess that this woman has to be at least in her late 60s, and having just buried her husband, whom she must have had a clearly..uh lively? relationship with. We should all be so fortunate.
I have had mixed thoughts about writing this piece, partly because it acknowledges the ongoing sex life (hopefully?) of my geriatric patients, and parents, and in part in deference to another author. This woman, this Mabel, has got the right to tell her story first. But given that I’m hinting left and right to type of woman she is I will give you one of my own stories about her.
Tonight she invited me to come to one of her grandchildren’s dance recitals. I quickly agreed- anything for the kids…and to keep a healthy relationship with the woman who would be decorating my home. We got there and, as I should apparently get used to in LA, sat directly next to the woman who wrote many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s songs: Allee Willis. She was sitting next to the comedian Luenelle who apparently has a daughter in the dance company as well. After taking our seats to a hushed audience, we let childhood, and music, and dance, take us away.
After a while, as I furiously wrote down song titles and imagined myself dancing if only I was about 100lbs lighter and about 3bra cup sizes smaller I looked to my left to see my companion, crying. She was silent, and she was observing, but as Mary J Blidge sang Found My Everything single tears slid down her pale, smooth face. I nudged close as I could, feeling young and all of 26 and not having any wisdom, or words, or anything to offer considering I am still more on the end of looking for the everything rather than having had it.
Still, as we left stage 52 humming to ourselves and praying over the blessings of one of their members, who will be attending the Alvin Ailey intensive this year, she stopped to apologize for excusing herself during Whitney Houston’s I’ll Always Love You. But to have someone to have laughed with, to attend your grandchildren’s recitals with, to tuck away old tools (slide rules) that havent been relevant since computers stopped taking up a whole room for, that is something we should all be so lucky to cry ourselves ugly over. I can only hope to still be telling stories of how we met, to be making sex jokes about texting to those two generations below me, and to be humming back to my car in green leopard print pants at 65.
I can’t wait to go shopping with my Auntie Mabel tomorrow. I mean come on, there are only so many people who make sex jokes about slide rules.