Manhattan

Are Keeping Times and Dates Hopelessly Old-fashioned?

Scene one: Summer 1955 – more than half of all Americans report going to religious services in the last 7 days. Sunday morning at the Gill household. Up for church early to also make sure we get a place on Jones Beach in Long Island by 9:30 AM. Wake up time? 6:30 AM.

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Scene two: 1965 family event of any type – picnic, barbecue, birthday party, meeting cousins and aunt at swimming pool. Time the hostess has said to arrive: 2:00 PM. Time of our family of 4 arrives at event? 2:05 PM give or take 2 minutes.

Scene three: 1979 DDI International home office in Pittsburgh. Place fellow blogger Cathy and I met. Meeting start time: 11:15 AM. Time we all arrived for the meeting? 11:05-11:10 AM.

Scene four: 1989 – meeting friend for drinks at restaurant in midtown Manhattan – her job in CT mine in Westchester County, NY. Each roughly 1.5 hours away requiring several types of transportation. Time we are meeting: 6:00 PM. Time we each arrive? Between 5:55 PM and 6:05 PM.

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Now dear FabulousOver60 sisters – before you say what I think you are going to say: “Damn right we were on time – that is the way it was and always should be. We made commitments and we KEPT them”, let’s consider a few things.

True. But remember the culture and the lack of technology made it very difficult to change plans. Plans were made, set and done “in ink on the calendar”. Changing one’s mind would involve inconveniencing someone else and this was something that simply was not considered appropriate. Besides, how would this be accomplished? Multiple phone calls? Well that was tough to do. You made a plan you kept to the plan – only death (your own or someone VERY close) would allow you to not show up on time and ready for the planned work or play activity.

Enter people 50 and younger – gen X and Y. Planning, commitments and getting together have always been a bit more haphazard for them. Yes, dinner was at 6 – but sometimes 7 – and then sometimes it was take out. Parents got divorced, businesses went bankrupt, work was sometimes easy and other times impossible to find – the world was not as rules-conscious with clear expectations as the world we were raised in.

So it’s dinner time at their house – they suggested – 6ish. You arrive at their home/apt at 6:15 PM and someone might be in the shower or suggesting that something came up and we’re all going out to dinner. There is a plan to meet for lunch at a fun sushi place at 1 PM before the show. Text arrives at 12:45 PM – “confusion – not going to make it – meet you at show”. “We are coming Friday morning” – that would be anytime on Friday between 10 AM and 3 PM.

Before you say it: “Right Patty, they all are a bunch of selfish, selfie-taking rude people who don’t keep any commitments to anyone but themselves”. Let me suggest, that the reason younger people flow this way is because our current culture flows this way and has been breaking down formalities and rules for decades. Most of us loved changing the world back in 1964 and 1974. We just didn’t think it would change quite THIS MUCH. More equality for women – we are IN on that. Women acting as crude and stupid as only men used to do, actually doesn’t seem right to us.

The scenarios at the beginning of this post were NOT the rule for generation X or Y. Their parents/elders, us boomers, were not as rigid and demanding as our parents were. What we didn’t foresee was everything demanding complete obedience and conformity then; anyone can do anything anytime and that’s okay. We wanted to be treated with a little respect. Now no one treats anyone with any particular respect one way or the other – we don’t love it. We “got” rules – we just wanted them to be a bit more flexible, not completely thrown out the window.

Phones and other devices make it easy and without consequence to change one’s mind and plans – and do it without having to explain or talk to someone face to face. Hurting someone’s feelings – a great taboo for boomers, hasn’t been around for a LONG time though we hung on to it. Everyone is supposed to be OK with that. But many of us boomers do get hurt and do not get people’s comfort with every person for themselves. We envy (or detest?) younger people’s blasé way of handling the constant shuffling of agendas and the freedom to do/not do just what they want anytime they want.

If you are FabulousOver60, let me suggest you keep expecting compliance with times and dates from your contemporaries you really know well and who share your standards. But, realize even many boomers are getting used to ‘anything goes’ – don’t be surprised if your sister Susan doesn’t show up at your 49th anniversary party; or a new friend you just met at a charity event shows up an hour late for a cocktail party starting at 6:30 PM. There is an avalanche of all of us letting ourselves off the hook for anything and everything that is pretty frightening.

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Yes, times HAVE changed and we have two choices (more but this post must end soon). Make plans only with those who share our style. Or realize, when we make plans with those not our style, (like daughters, sons, nieces and nephews, business acquaintances or new friends from a club or religious group) accept that the chances of plans changing is now near 85%-99%. Invest less in the plan so when it does change you are less disappointed. That’s a bit depressing I know, but in some ways who needed to do all the cleaning, planning and dusting for every guest who would cross our doors or to pick an outfit to wear weeks in advance? All this ‘anything goes’ isn’t perfect, but maybe we can start to take ourselves off our own hooks and go with the flow a bit more.

Not with me though – you say 11 on the 20th at a mutually convenient Starbucks, you better be there at 11. Somehow, I am not worried – we’ll both be there – dressed appropriately.

Patty

Please share this with people – we need to come to common ground!

The Limburger Cheese Conspiracy

I originally wrote this story when I turned 60 in 2010. Maybe turning that big number made me nostalgic. Maybe remembering that my dad was 62 when he died was the motivation. I found the story the other day when going through some files, so I thought I’d share it with other Fabulous Over 60 women. If you have a story about your dad, please share it with us!

Hey, kid… want some Limburger cheese?

Of course, I wanted Limburger cheese! He was my dad and this was our special thing together. Limburger cheese – ripe, smelly, soggy cheese – placed between two small squares of rye bread with a thick slick of onion and brown mustard. What could be better?

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Other kids in Cincinnati might like to go to Frisch’s Big Boy or Graeter’s Ice Cream with their dads, but not me. I was the Limburger kid. I liked to think that there was only one daughter-dad duo in the whole world that liked to break out one of the smelliest cheese ever made* as a snack before dinner.

One of the main reasons I loved it so much was that my mom and siblings would run from the room yelling and screaming as he pulled it out of the refrigerator.

Not again, my brother would groan. Oh no, my sister would giggle. Please Joseph, you’ll ruin all of our dinners, my mom would say with absolutely no hope of changing his mind.

He would grin at me and wink. I would smile back. I was his co-conspirator.

First, of course, he had to mix up his Manhattan and get me my Coca-Cola. I didn’t know exactly what a Manhattan was at that young age, but I knew there was an art to mixing just the right alcohols together and that he seemed to really enjoy doing it. It was hands-down the most perfect drink to have with Limburger cheese, he would tell me. (I learned later that the true German drink – the one his ancestors would have approved – was beer.)

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My job was to get out the rye bread and mustard. He would slice the onion. The slices had to be “just so” – thick enough to crunch and yet small enough to fit on the tiny brown bread squares.

And then, it was time for the unveiling. Limburger cheese was always wrapped tightly in multiple layers of paper. Dad bought it at the butcher shop where he worked part time in the evenings, so he knew exactly what to buy and how to make sure it didn’t stink up mom’s refrigerator before we were ready to eat it. He also bought just enough for the two of us, because there was no way that mom would let him re-wrap it.

As he carefully began to peel back the paper, the smell would spread through the kitchen and waft its way into every other room in the house. Soon, 3237 Vittmer Avenue smelled like rotten cheese.

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Yuck, my sister would groan. Oh, please, my brother would whine. Eat it fast, mom would plead.

And we would. We would sit at the kitchen table, make several sandwiches each and begin our feast. We both knew that the aftermath would not be pretty. We knew that we would burp up that smell many times over the course of the next few hours. We knew that no one would want to get close to us for at least a day. We knew that dinner – no matter what it was – would not taste very good. But, so what?

For me, the times that I ate slimy, smelly Limburger cheese and onion sandwiches with my dad were some of the most special times of my life.   And, as I remember the twinkle in his eye and the grin on his face, I know he felt the same way.

Cathy Green

* Limburger has been described as a semi-soft cheese with a powerful aroma reminiscent of dirty socks!! Here it is at #7 on the list of the world’s 10 stinkiest cheeses…

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