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When aging brings embarrassment

An elderly woman was pushing her shopping cart full of bags across a supermarket parking lot when she spied her car, with windows down and three young men sitting inside smoking, drinking beer and talking and laughing. Horrified and frightened, she pulled her handgun from inside her big purse — this was just outside Abilene, Texas — and aimed a shot right past the chin of the one in the driver’s seat. As they all scrambled howling out of the windows of the car, she charged, commanding them to “leave now or I’ll call the cops!”

It turned out, of course, that it wasn’t her own car — same make, same model, same color, but not hers.

I can identify with that woman — figment of Internet humor that she is. I was trying vainly to unlock my car on a hot noonday, frustrated and near meltdown, when the owner came up, took me gently by the arm, and pointed out the one I wanted, just across the parking aisle.

Ah, the embarrassments that accompany the aging process, and the volume of funny stories at the expense of the elderly. You don’t get them in your email if you’re still a young sprout. I get them every day from a sister and two brothers-in-law in their 60s and 70s and a gaggle of silly goose girlfriends who’re my contemporaries.

The star of humor for elders is the Internet cartoon character Maxine, who told a buddy, “I don’t plan to live forever. I don’t want to exist just plugged in and on fluids.” Whereupon her friend pulled the plug on her television set and emptied her wineglass down the sink. “She’s such a (w)itch,” said Maxine.

I read in the Wall Street Journal the other day that the number of seniors using computers is increasing and I wonder whether that’s because more older people are going online, or because the people who are already online are getting older. It could be either, and that could well be the reason for the upswing in jokes for the no-longer-juvenile. I’d check that out for you if I could remember where I put the paper.

In the meantime, I’m going to share some of the stories that made me laugh the hardest:

* Mildred was riding in Susan’s car to a meeting at the church, and she became increasingly uneasy. “Susie,” she said hesitantly, “I don’t want to criticize, but you’ve run two red lights and made an illegal left turn.”

“Oh, sh(oo)t,” said Susan. “Am I driving?”

* Four girlfriends who had just graduated high school together made a pact to meet every 10 years for dinner. They chose the Blue Gardenia Café for their first meal because some of the entrees were $20 for two and they didn’t have much money and the waiters were really cute.

Ten years later, they again met at the Blue Gardenia because it had live music and a 2-for-1 happy hour.

The next three times they met at the Blue Gardenia because it had excellent lobsters, steaks and appetizers, an extensive wine list, and valet parking.

On their 50th reunion dinner, they decided to meet at the Blue Gardenia, because they’d never been there.

* A good-looking and well-preserved woman of about 70 was sitting in a restaurant, eating alone, when an extremely handsome and sexy man of middle years came in and also sat alone. He noticed her staring and, after about half an hour, sent a waiter to her table with this penned message: “If you will tell me — in three words — what you want, I’ll follow you home and do it for only $20.”

After a moment’s deep thought, the woman flipped the note over and wrote, “Clean my house.”

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living Section, for which she wrote Silver Threads until her retirement. Email her at


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