Friday, December 27, 2019

The Girls

These days I like to take my picture in blurry reflections. I can tell it's me, but one doesn't have to look closely at wrinkles, blemishes or, should I happen to have one, my black eye. (Just theoretically, you know.)

Today is an annual holiday lunch I have with four friends. We talk about being "the girls", but one is 65 (the youngest), two are 70, I'm 71 and the oldest is 73. We have known each other for a long time. None of us have children. Two have never been married and one was married and divorced before I knew her if I'm not mistaken. Everyone lives here in Austin save one and she visits from California this time of the year because she is close to one of the others. (In honesty, it doesn't feel like her good friend lives here either because she is gone a lot of the time.)

Once we exchanged presents. One year after we'd sort of ceased the gift exchange I took a grab bag of swag junk to pass around. It was not looked on favorably. Some years the oldest, from California, brought candy for everyone. I briefly considered wrapping up some 'white elephant' gifts for today's lunch, but I'm glad I dismissed that idea because we chose a place that is less than two miles from here and the weather is agreeable so I walked over there. Almost the longest way mostly on the hike and bike trail. I needed the exercise. Also, walking is a time for thinking.

We ate and talked for over two hours. I told the story of my black eye which was only noticeable to the one friend who saw it when it was more obvious. (Or so they said.) My story is getting better and better although still true. One gal told about some Christmas giving in her family. She bought two gifts at Goodwill on the cheap but forgot to take off the tags. Her niece was delighted. Her sister insulted. She said that one great-nephew (or do you say grand-nephew if it's the kid of a niece? I never know) got a 3D printer. He's ten. We talked about kids and screens and gadgets and books. One gal took presents for all the kids at her family gathering: those old school holiday 'books' with Lifesavers inside. Kids loved them. Who knew they still made them. We discussed racial segregation when we were growing up. We discussed college degrees and our careers. (Everyone is retired.) We discussed measles and other childhood diseases and how the woman who survived Multiple Myeloma that's to a bone marrow transplant lost her immunity to the drugs but can't be reimmunized for some things because it's a live virus or something. We discussed how a measles case had been identified that 'contaminated' the Austin airport. We discussed glaciers melting and revealing bodies. We discussed tennis. Three of my friends played at one time. One was quite good. No one plays except me any longer. The one who was so good uses a cane due to nerve damage from a botched surgery. She and I discussed Vic Braden and his 1977 book Tennis for the Future.

As I've mentioned in these last days I haven't been daily with Holidailies. It's funny about habits. When I retired I wanted to do a lot of things, maybe master some stuff. Relearn and master French. Learn German, maybe Italian. Learn some new computer skills. What I've become good at is Suduku, Ken-Ken, Jumble and, especially crosswords. Not really a marketable skill. Not that I wanted to market my skills exactly. But still. At lunch, we were discussing mythology. I mentioned that in Junior High English I refused to study the mythology lessons because "they weren't true." After flunking the test on that unit, my teacher and my mother made me cram and retake the test. I still didn't retain it. Whenever I come upon one of those Greek/Roman/Norse god questions in a puzzle I regret it. Even more than I regret not listening to popular music or watching news and talk shows on TV. (These things are frequent questions in puzzles, you see.) Honestly, though, I wish I'd developed some habits of learning languages, exercising, learning things that are somewhat useful.

Ah, well. So it goes. I think I'll go work the crossword in the Wall Street Journal.

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