I had an interesting exchange with one of my many senior citizen neighbors this week. This neighbor, who is an 80-something widow, was recounting a bit of a catty girl-fight she had gotten into when she and another neighbor had been fighting over the same man. You might wonder when this happened. Twenty….or maybe thirty years ago?
Nope. It was just last week! Apparently, one woman admitted to the other that she was enamored with or even smitten by a fellow that they both know. Well, it seems that the first neighbor might be harboring similar feelings and unkind words were exchanged by these older gals and feelings were hurt. Neighbor #1 told me that she had even seen this woman sneaking into the fellow’s house late at night! She lowered her voice and said, “And you know what that means!” with a knowing look. But honestly,…. I didn’t. The man in question is in his 80s too. He uses a walker.
“Well…..,” I hesitated, “what exactly do you think they are doing?” I was choosing my words carefully. “Do you think they are…..errrr…….canoodling?” Canoodling was the only word I could bring myself to say.
Neighbor #1 made a kind of humpffing sound, raised her eyebrows and slowly nodded.
“You know,” she said, with a sigh, “there is just something about him….. about his eyes, about how he talks…..there is just SOMETHING.”
Then today, I watched an exchange between two other elderly men and I realized what that special something might be.
One 90 year-old man, who uses a cane and struggles with stairways, was waiting for the use of the church’s automatic stair-chair. My own 85 year-old step-father, who uses supplemental oxygen was also waiting for the stair-chair to be free. The two men exchanged politenesses. It went like this-
“Please, you go ahead first.”
“Oh no no, please, you go on ahead.”
“I must insist. You go first.”
“On no, please, I insist. You go.”
“Oh, no, no, no….you should go on first.”
This went on for way too long. They were being so polite that I was waiting for one of them to collapse. One man was leaning heavily on his cane and the other was sucking oxygen in deep breaths though his nose. Elderly frail bodies were swaying. My step-father was literally leaning against the wall.
And then I realized…manners are that special something. Manners….this is what has these senior divas swooning! Because, I realized, our small-town Casanova is one of the most polite and well mannered men I have ever known. He once held a door for me when I was empty handed and he had two grocery bags in his! He practically opened the door with his elbow and refused to let me help. He will always shake a man’s hand, and pull out a chair for a lady. Even in his golden years, he is a gentleman.
And after all, Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, described the men that grew up in the Great Depression and fought or lived through WWII as the finest generation of men…..ever. Brokaw argued that this time in history fostered men and women who strove to do the right thing, just because it was the right thing! And our neighborhood chick-magnet is one of this great generation….and he is REALLY well-mannered!
My own generation is not always so polite. In fact, my generation can be downright rude sometimes and may even be inclined to directing a rude gesture to a complete stranger in traffic.
And let’s face it…..manners make the world a friendlier place. When a kind hearted person holds the door for me, or when a gracious driver waves my car into a long line of bumper to bumper traffic…..I am happy. My generation needs to take a lesson from my senior citizen neighbors…..MANNERS DO MATTER!
So let’s try to increase our own pleases and thank-yous this week. We could all use to brush up on the Emily Post Basics! And if my suspicions are right, good manners might even attract Cupid’s arrow…..and might result in a little more canoodling! Can’t beat that!….Right?!
Now if you know me personally, and are wondering about the identity of our suspected Romeo and Juliet….please don’t ask……I will never tell…….Let’s just give those crazy kids their privacy and let them have their fun!