Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2002 / 19 Shevat, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Age-old words -- I WOULD like to formally deny any and all accusations that my husband is getting old, because if he's getting old, there's a good chance he'll try to take me down with him.

On the off chance the aging accusations stick, I would like to go on record saying that I was a child bride. Yes, it's true, I played Barbies, memorized the multiplication tables, selected a wedding china pattern and married all in the third grade.

Sadly, these unseemly aging accusations have been coming from people my husband and I know fairly well. To be specific, they have been coming from people we birthed, fed, housed, nurtured and gave the best years of our paychecks to.

The majority of the charges stem from language use. In what the kids would have us think was a total lapse of sanity, my husband recently used the word commode.

"Commode! Nobody says commode!" they chorused, convulsing with wild laughter. "Dad, do you know how old that makes you sound?" one of them said. "You sound like you're, oh man, I don't know -- 50!"

He is 50. Had the birthday two months ago, which would explain the balloons, the cards, and the cake with so many candles they left scorch marks on the kitchen ceiling.

In addition to the word commode, he recently used another word that sent them into hysterics. We were talking about coed dorms when my husband said to my son, "So, theoretically, you could walk out into your hall and bump into some girl wearing a negligee?" There was a brief delay as the kids processed the word "negligee," then exploded in a burst of laughter that sounded like machine guns raiding a speak-easy in a gangster movie.

I have to side with the kids on this one. Negligee screams old. Teen-age girls don't wear slinky, lacy Marilyn Monroe negligees. They wear baggy, over-sized flannel pants and tank tops. Our son is unlikely to spot a girl in a satin negligee in his coed dorm, he is far more likely to encounter a girl wearing a get-up resembling Michael Jordan's basketball warm-ups. (Thank goodness for ugly fashion trends.)

The third word he uses that dates him is Brillo pad. This too, induces great bouts of laughter when he looks under the sink and asks, "Do we have any Brillo pads?" They still make Brillo pads. They still sell Brillo pads, but apparently Brillo pads are the new hallmark of antiquity.

And who can guess how many years we both add to ourselves when we slip and use ancient words like trousers, ice box or lavatory.

The children are also concerned because my husband and I have had the same conversation after church for three weeks running. I say, "Did you say hello to the Schneckenbockers today?" He says, "Who are they?" I say, "You know, she's my height, has short hair and looks like she golfs. He's medium height, with thinning hair. Remember? We've introduced ourselves to one another three times now." My husband says, "Oh, sure," and it's the end of the conversation.

The kids think this highly entertaining and proof that we are both losing it. We think it is a sign that we are friendly people, despite short attention spans and diminishing brain cells.

I would dismiss all aging accusations leveled against my better half, were it not for a recent disturbing experience. My husband and I met at an insurance office to update some policies and then headed for home in separate vehicles. I was behind him in traffic as we both merged onto the interstate. I could not believe my eyes. I blinked and looked again. Yes, he was driving with his turn signal on.

If the kids find out, they'll probably start collecting retirement home brochures. I hope it's a facility where the ladies wear negligees, the kitchen help use Brillo pads, each room has its own commode and none of the golf carts have turn signals.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman