I can’t find my toaster. Where could it be? Frantically, I open cupboards, convinced that a ghost is teasing me. I believe in ghosts. I believe in spirits. I believe in the unknown.
I open the frig to get some yogurt, and oh my God, there is my toaster. I stand here feeling panic. What’s worse, is that the toaster is carefully placed in the back of the frig arranged behind several bottles of water. As if hidden. I think about the ongoing Ad on television warning about the signs of Alzeimer; a husband finds his wife’s keys in the microwave. “Tch Tch Tch, poor baby,” the husband murmurs, while the wife looks confused. As if men never get confused.
I call my author friend Marsha. I confide to her about the toaster.
“Honey, watch it. If it happens again, go to a neurologist.”
“I’m working on a new novel. I have a lot on my mind. “
Next, I call and confide to my daughter that I put the toaster in the frig. “I must have been sleepwalking,” I say, laughing nervously.
“Mom,” croons Bonny. “You’re almost 78. Things happen.’’
“So what does age have to do with it?”
“Everything!” she snaps. “You’re on the end of your life.’’
“Who knows what’s an end? George Bush senior jumped out of an airplane at 95!”
“What are you going to jump out of an airplane now? “
She sighs, heavily.
I’ve had it with everyone hocking about age. So what if I put the toaster into the frig? It’s time to do things, and not to worry about the friggin toaster. I survived cancer, the publishing business, Hollywood, louses, so what’s a toaster anyway?
I call my best friend Judy Cohen. We went to Lowell together, and we have a bucket list and try to do interesting things with our boome r hottie friends. We make plans with two of our friends to go to the De Young Museum and see the show on Modernism, and then for lunch at Original Joes in North Beach.
At the museum, we cluster in a group. We look at the paintings–Rothko, Stella, Lichenstein, and other paintings. The girls whisper about the art, what artists they like, have bought, and gave to their kids. I love being with the girls. They’re seventy-ish, sharp, chic, and fun.
Afterwards, we go to lunch. Over Bloody Marys I confide to them about the toaster in the frig.
“Honey, it’s a sign.’’ Idele looks at me, sympathetically. She’s pretty, with dark eyes and dark short hair.
“A sign of what?” I snap.
“A sign that she has a lot on her mind.’’ Judy has silver chic hair. She wears a shocking pink sweater.
“At our age, we’re losing our minds.” Debbie says. She wears a chic kimono over jeans, and arty jewelry. She’s seventy-one.
They start talking about the end of life, burials, cemetery plots, AARP specials. Really depressing. I guzzle my drink and ask for more vodka.
Idele says: “I went to Colma to the Jewish Cemetery and picked out my plot. But I changed it. I don’t like the view. Also I didn’t like the yenta who is buried next me. It wasn’t working for me!’’
“You won’t know the difference,” I say, guzzling my bloody Mary. “ I’m going to be cremated.’’
“You better go to Sinai, pick out your urn, or you’ll end up in a paper bag.’’ Judy laughs. She has the best laugh.
“My kid would drop my ashes with the cat litter,” Idele insists. “ I want to see where I’m going to be buried.’’
“I don’t want a fancy urn,” I say.
“You’ll end up in a paper bag, Oy.” Debbie looks reflective.
“I told the kids to throw the ashes on a field of flowers.”
“Which means the garbage with the cat litter.’’
“Why are we talking about burials? “I protest, biting into my delicious hamburger.
“Trust me. “ Debbie says. “Your toaster in the frig is a warning that the time is near.’’
“Hogwash! I Lose keys, remotes, eye glasses.”
As they talk about burials, losing their balance and wobbling, about how the “party is over,” I gobble my fries.
Who cares toaster in ovens, remotes in microwaves. This moment with the girls is glorious. Living is glorious. Anyway, I believe that there is no such thing as age. Ageism is as bad as racism or homophobia.
To update you: To remind myself that sometimes I forget things, I wear a huge beaded wrist band. A huge note is pasted on my refrigerator door: It says: Do Not Place Toaster in Frig.”
A month later. I ride my motorcycle along the hills and frank Sinatra is singing Strangers In The Night, and life is incredible—-
Barbara Rose Brooker is a native at author/teacher. Her latest novel The Rise and Fall of a Jewish American Princess will be released in Nov/2014 and available on Amazon, Kindle and all bookstores. Her next AGE MARCH will be sponsored by Age Song, and in 2014 in SF.