The other day I made salmon patties for dinner. There was a lot of nostalgia involved — memories of my mom forcing me to eat them at gun point, me kicking and yelling, “NO, don’t make me do it, take them away!” Ah, things change. Now I like salmon patties. Almost enough to make me re-try Mom’s tuna boats. But not quite.
It’s funny how perspective changes as you get older. Things that seemed absolutely unacceptable as a kid and especially a teen suddenly seem rather reasonable. I decided to list a few of those things here:
- Receiving small appliances as birthday/Christmas gifts. I distinctly remember watching the calendar for the approach of my first anniversary and finally telling my husband that under no circumstances should he ever buy me a vacuum cleaner. If I wanted a vacuum cleaner, I’d go out and buy my own damn vacuum cleaner. Sweater, earrings, purses … those were the acceptable gifts. At the time, I was cleaning the tiny scrap of carpet in our apartment living room with a Dust Buster, so he found this confusing. Last Christmas, my oldest daughter, Rachel, got me a vacuum cleaner. I was so touched. She knew carrying the Hoover up and down the stairs was hard on my back, and she thought it would be nice if I had a second one upstairs. How thoughtful is that?
- Forgetting important dates. When I was younger, I thought any man who forgot his anniversary was obviously having an affair. But 27 of the damn things later, I really couldn’t care less. They just blur together in your mind. And birthdays! Don’t remind me. I was having a nice day til you brought that up. This year, my second daughter, Sheri, looked at the calendar and said, “Hey, wasn’t your anniversary sometime last week?” I had her text my husband and tell him how upset I was. What the heck. Anything for extra flowers.
- Fish in general. I used to vomit upon first scent of anything from under the sea. I remember the first time I tried to eat a shrimp in college. It looked okay. And then the breading cracked and I could see this plump, pink little body inside, not an anonymous slab of meat, but an identifiable body part. I literally gagged. Right there in the Red Lobster. A couple of years ago, I encouraged my daughter to get a job at Red Lobster; did you know employees (and up to eight guests) get 25% off?
- Putting anything unsterilized in a baby’s mouth. I read once that you can tell how many kids you have by how you react to a baby’s pacifier falling on the floor. Snatch it up and sterilize it? First-time parent. Examine it, rinse it, pop it in baby’s mouth? Second-time parent. Dust it off on your jeans and put it in baby’s mouth? Third-time parent. Stick it in your own mouth to get all yuck off and then straight into baby’s mouth? Four and above. Well, think about it. Have you seen the stuff babies put in their mouths? Leaves, grass, bugs, the cat’s ear? They’re pretty disgusting characters, babies. And I’m not even talking about the business end.
- A TV in the bedroom. This is the place for romance, right? I always wanted a fireplace in my bedroom. How nice to fall asleep to the flicker of flames. Now, I love to doze off to the blue flicker of the TV. So relaxing.
- Going out without makeup. As a teenager, I fully intended to wake up an hour before my future husband to shower, do my hair, and put on my makeup so he would never see me at less than my best. I gradually evolved to going fresh-faced around the house, but I would never be caught dead in public like that. Then I discovered gigantic dark glasses. From there, it was all downhill.
I think what I didn’t understand as a teenager is how relaxing being older is. I really don’t care what strangers think of my face/hair/clothes/cell phone/car/house/kids’ behavior. I will never see these people again. If I did, they wouldn’t remember me. And they’re probably losers themselves anyway. So I’m golden. I can drive up in a crappy car with 235,000 miles (yea Ford!), slap my sunglasses on, and herd any number of loud, obnoxious kids covered in tattoos and facial piercings anywhere I want and not feel any trepidation at all.
No one told me getting older was going to be this much fun.