Yesterday a spring chicken, today an ol’hen

Published 7:09 pm Friday, July 10, 2009

Just because she has a few less gray hairs, my friend thinks that she’s a spring chicken and I’m an ol’ hen ripe for the dumplin’ pot.

But I don’t’ believe, as she does, that the fountain of youth pours forth, Nice’nEasy, from a bottle of Lady Clairol. If the Good Lord wanted me to have foxy lady hair in my mature years, he would have provided. So, I’m just content to be possum blond.

Funny though, it’s like my granny always said, “Keep a-talking and you’ll soon get caught on your own pitchfork.”

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My spring-chick friend got caught on her own pitchfork and I took great satisfaction – and a whole lot of pleasure — in her predicament .

One of the first signs of old age is that, when going on a trip, you pack your medicine before anything else.

Well, spring chick was going on vacation and picked up a few “little” things that she needed to take along. She was happily showing her purchases, when out of the sack came a little plastic case. It was divided into seven little compartments labeled with the days of the week.

“What’s this? For pills? For an old folks’ medicine regiment? For you? Why, spring chicken, shut yo’ mouth!”

Yesterday a spring chicken. Today, an old hen with a days of the week pill box. Quick get the Lady Clairol and pour it on!

Now, I may have, as my little grandson said, old hair, but I’m not into labeled pill boxes, not yet.

The only thing that I needed labeled was when I was 10 years old. I was going to Camp Grandview and Mama bought me a set of all-colored panties with the days of the week embroidered on them. She put a pair of panties, a clean shirt, shorts and socks in a plastic bag for each day of the week. On Monday, I was supposed to wear the stuff in the bag with the Monday panties. I got the idea.

I wore the Sunday panties up to the camp because we checked in on Sunday. Well, I went swimming every day so I was clean and didn’t see any need to mess up more clothes.

I was not a very smart 10-year-old. If I had been, I would have at least taken the clean clothes out of the plastic bags and stuffed them in the pillowcase Mama had sent for my dirty clothes.

Even then, I might have gotten away with it, if I had gone home on Sunday instead of Saturday.

Imagine Mama’s surprise when her little darlin’ girl came home Saturday in Sunday’s panties. And it was not a happy surprise.

“Why do you have on those Sunday panties that you wore up there?”

Before I could answer, she was plundering through my suitcase and found a week’s worth of panties — Monday through Saturday. And, not a single pair of them had been worn.

Well, she put my little bony self in the bathtub and scrubbed me with a Brillo pad. She said she scrubbed so hard because I was dirty to the bone. I think it was because she was trying to hurt me. When I came out, I was as clean as a whistle and as shiny as a new copper penny.

Since that time, I have never had a need or a desire for any type of scheduling devices.

But my spring chick friend with the black stallion-dyed hair does. She’s got a pill box with the days of the week on it. The kind like old hens who can’t remember have.

It’s funny, too, that we all think that we can kid the world into believing that we’re still young folks. We resist getting older. When the warranty on our body parts starts to wear out, we just get overhauls.

The hair’s the first thing to regain its youth with colors right out of a bottle. We get what’s dropped down pulled back up. We get nipped and tucked. We eliminate the excess and enhance the rest. We bake ourselves in tanning beds instead of bread in the oven and ride in convertibles instead of sedans. We wear dangling earbobs and designer clothes and get glow-in-the-dark white teeth and tote multi-colored “in” purses big enough to carry around a jersey cow.

Our minds become our mirrors and we just see ourselves as spring chickens.

Mama didn’t worry too much about getting older. “I’ve learned to live with it,” she would laugh and say about advancing age.

But there was one thing that she would not do. She absolutely would not ride in the “senior citizen” van that the city supplied on different occasions.

“I may be old but I’m not getting in there with all those other old folks and have people looking at us like we’re a side show,” she would say.

But one day, I turned a corner and at the stop sign was the “old folks bus” with Mama sitting straight and tall in it. I stopped and laughed and she laughed and, from that day on, I kidded her about being in an old folks side show.

“Well, I wanted to go and that was the only way I could,” she said. “But I didn’t like it.”

Just the other day, I peeped inside a van for the ‘aging’ program just to see who was in there “aging.”

See. “Aging program” implies that the folks inside the bus are involved in an aging process. Much like curing meat or tobacco and that they, too, will come out different, but better, than when they went in.

Maybe that’s really what the aging process does. Maybe it turns spring chickens into old hens — different — but far better in the winter of life than in the spring.