Here’s more family humor from one of the Charleston Mercury columnists, Patra Taylor.
Me! One of the beautiful people
I spent spring break in South Florida with the beautiful people.
At this point, the accomplished storyteller should be waxing poetic about the exploits of her college break (sadly, only one) spent in sunny Florida in order to move the storyline forward. While I would love to re-live those few short days on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, and embellish my memories enough to make them worth reading about, I fear pushing the rewind button on that coming-of-age period in my life would trigger enough specifics to flash the approximate date of that trip across my conscious mind causing me to be just one spontaneous subtraction problem away from inadvertently recalling my current age, rounded to the nearest year. I’m pretty good at math, so I’ve decided not to go there.
The truth is I haven’t spoken my age aloud since June 15, 2004. No big deal, really. I just decided that focusing on my rapid slide through middle age was distracting me from getting things done. Age is often nothing more than an excuse not to clean the garage, parachute out of an airplane or master the intricacies of social media. So I simply made the decision not to say that arbitrary number, whatever it is, aloud ever again.
Then one day I discovered that my age was no longer on the tip of my tongue…an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of a thing.
“How old are you, Patty?” someone had the nerve to ask a lady.
After a moment of superficial thought, I replied, “I don’t recall.” It worked for Hillary.
My Rube Goldberg of self delusion
More recently I realized that I had, in fact, constructed an enormous Rube Goldberg of self delusion regarding the exact number of years that have passed since my birth. I determined the concept of “older but wiser” isn’t one that works for me, not to mention the fact that I love believing the best days of my life are perpetually ahead of me, rather than part of that dust cloud I see in my rearview mirror.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed lately that the fuselage of my self-delusion has developed a few cracks. For example, with the on-set of hot flashes I discovered to my horror that my vision of the perfect man now pops into my fantasies wearing boxer shorts. (What’s up with that?) Sometimes my fantasy man even has gray hair. Eee-gad!
In the same vein, my response to any handsome man younger than Glee’s Mark Salling (who is, coincidentally, the same age as my oldest son) has increasingly tilted away from my characteristic “hunk-a-hunk-a-burnin’-love” to garner a rather milquetoast “he’s kind of a cute kid,” which is nothing more than a power move by my inner adult to steer me clear of the “old and creepy” moniker.
I’ve told you all the above to tell you this. I spent spring break in South Florida with the beautiful people. (It was worth repeating.) I stayed in a grand hotel in Coral Gables, which isn’t exactly South Beach, but posh nevertheless. The first morning after I arrived, I got up early and decided to walk the Miracle Mile in search of a healthy breakfast. When I opened the door to my room, I noticed that every door along the long hallway had a USA Today in front of it…except mine.
On the second morning, I arose even earlier to go out for a quiet breakfast alone. When I opened my door, I gazed down upon my very own copy of USA Today. After a crowd of people passed my doorway, I bent down to retrieve the newspaper. That’s when the door swung closed, smacking me right in the buttocks.
For those of you who have ever been thumped on the rump by a heavy spring-loaded wooden door, you already know that recovering one’s footing from such a sudden and unexpected blow requires a great deal of skill and agility. Before I knew it, I was flapping my arms wildly…doing the funky chicken on the down-low with hope springing eternal that the passing crowd had already turned the corner.
No harm, no foul. (Although there was plenty of fowl if you count my funky chicken moves.) I quickly regained my balance and at least a portion of my dignity uninjured, if you don’t count the bruise to my ego. I will neither confirm nor deny I did the funky chicken the last time I spent spring break in South Florida, but I will say that as long as I can flap, and as long as I can laugh, I’m going to hold my self-delusions of youth together with duct tape and bailing wire for as long as I can. In fact, I’m planning to head a movement resurrecting the funky chicken, the monkey, the mashed potato and maybe even the watusi…right after I figure out social media.
This column first appeared in the April 21, 2011 issue of The Charleston Mercury.
Copyright © 2019 by Patra Taylor Bucher. All rights reserved.