Thursday, November 12, 2009

One of Those Truly Weird Nights

Is it the cooler fall weather that's making me a sluggish blogger? Is my attention span that short? (Hey, look! A squirrel!) Well, I finally have some new blogworthy material to share with you.

Last night J and I (and my parents) attended a stimulating debate hosted by UW-Oshkosh as part of their ongoing speaker series: The Great Porn Debate...Horny vs. Holy. Ron Jeremy vs. Craig Gross.

I know.

Turnout was incredible, with 200 kids stuffed into an overflow room to watch online. Now, if just the thought of attending such an event with your parents makes you break out in a cold sweat, imagine if your mother, polite to a fault, tried making small talk with you prior to the event by asking, " you watch a lot of porn?"

You know, it just occurred to me that I never did answer her! Let's leave it at: "None. None at all."

The debate was spirited, and each side made some valid and thoughtful points. It was a colorful and interesting change of pace.

But let me back up a bit...

Earlier in the evening an elderly woman knocked on my front door by mistake. She was looking for her friend Bea's party: "I'm sorry I'm late!" Then, as her predicament began to dawn on her: "Where is everybody?" I felt absolutely horrible for her when I responded with a gentle, "May I ask who you're looking for?" I invited her in while I looked her friend up in the phone book...apparently, this poor, confused, very lost 84 year-old had been driving around for an hour trying to find her friend's place, and she landed on my porch, just ONE BLOCK from her destination. J came home to find this unfamiliar old lady sitting at our kitchen table, chatting away with Bea on her cell phone, her giant boat of a Cadillac parked in our driveway.

While I walked Helen out she told me that getting old was no picnic. "Would you believe I used to be a professional ice skater?"

"It's a good thing we wrapped this up now," I replied. "We've got to go see a porn star speak on campus."

I'm totally kidding about that. I actually replied, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

No, no, of course I didn't say that. I smiled and laughed and listened to her talk about growing up a few blocks from me and moving to Florida. It kind of broke my heart that she told me the bit about ice was important to her that I didn't just see her as a confused older woman who came to my house by mistake, but that I know she too was once vibrant and young. I don't look forward to that. To the feeling that you have to prove your value, justify your continued worth as you lose your independence, health, and even dignity in dribs and drabs every day.

I'll say this--she may have been confused, she may have been a bit shaky on the stairs, but if I'm still in good spirits, resilient in the face of adversity, tooling around going to parties with my friends fifty years from now, I'll consider myself unfathomably lucky.


  1. That's such a touching story, Jess. The old lady I mean, not so much the porn debate. And inspiring too. When I'm 84, I'm going to tell people I was a figure skater, or a porn star, or both. They'll never know! And I'll get to bask in their ... their something. Where was I going again?

  2. Anonymous8:43 PM

    Touching, yes...although I have to say she shouldn't be driving. Thanks to a "confused" 89 year old driver I am now out one great car, spent a week in the hospital and now have to walk on crutches for the next 12 weeks. Elderly pride can claim lives. Not driving does not mean losing your independence.

  3. i figure by the time we're that age they'll have improved GPS. Come by we'll have Ensure Margaritas

  4. Great post! I can't believe you blogged about this debate.

  5. A. Why on earth did you go to that debate WITH YOUR PARENTS?

    B. Your elderly lady story is similar to the time that an elderly lady arrived at my in-laws house by mistake. She was only one house off, and realized her mistake very quickly. Unfortunately, instead of asking for help getting out of their long, narrow driveway, she decided to try to turn around and backed her SUV into a very deep ditch and took out a few trees in the process. They were less than charmed when they had to call a tow truck to get her SUV un-stuck.