What Fresh Hell?

Berlin - March 8, 2018


I woke up last night – not unusual – I wake up many nights at two or three regardless of wine or coffee – I’ve heard that sleep is disrupted at my age – people joke about it, although it’s not so amusing when it’s dark and one’s mind churns. I try to remember my German lessons, which article, das, der, die – which one adheres to which noun. Then a name becomes stuck. I can’t remember someone’s name a name that would have at one point in the past tripped off my tongue but now it unglues itself and only hours or days later will it pop unbidden into my head and I think I’m coming down with my heritable brand of cognitive decline.


Um, Not So Pleasant!

Reflections on David Andreatta’s article in the Rochester, NY, Democrat and Chronicle: “Don’t call these women ‘elderly’ – Sunday, July 9, 2017

David Andreatta, the hunky journalist who is even better-looking-than-his-picture (I saw him one time at GEVA Theater) writes about two women who are linked by friendship, a love of fitness and their rigorous walking schedule. Mary Mort (63) and Becky Kehoe (72) were training for a half-marathon back in February when they were struck by a car whose driver veered from the road and smacked into both of them. Mary and Becky suffered massive, life threatening injuries. Recently, they contacted Andreatta about what truly pissed them off, and it wasn’t just the “rehab and the nightmares and the medical bills throughout the ordeal,” not even - it was that the newspaper account of the accident didn’t even mention their names. They were referred to as two elderly women.

Too true.

Words do matter, my friend. Just ask anyone what images pop up when you hear the word ‘elderly’? Come on, you see wheelchairs, walkers, incontinence pads, cans of Ensure. ‘Elderly’ doesn’t conjure up pictures of women in Lululemon workout gear, striding at a heart-pounding pace while coming up to mile number eight. How about use ‘women’? Or two ‘mothers’? ‘Elderly’ carries the whiff of someone about to expire, to be erased. Someone not seen.

Andreatta’s article reminded me of an appointment I had a couple of years ago with a doctor. He looked to be in his late thirties, maybe early forties and at the end of the visit, pulled out a recording device and began to dictate the appointment notes:

The patient is a pleasant, fifty-nine-year-old woman. . .

What the fuck?!!

Oh, no he didn’t!


Granted, he didn’t call me a bitch. In effect, said I was a nice, inoffensive woman. Big deal.

Shit! But pleasant?

I’ll give him pleasant!

Pleasant would be ripping out the few remaining hairs on his sparsely covered scalp.

Pleasant would be giving him a short course in manners about the creepiness of speaking in third-person about someone who is SITTING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.

Pleasant would be actually being seen.

Sad to say, I let the moment pass without a pithy comment. Maybe I am chronically inoffensive. I left the doctor’s office after a pleasant round of pleasantries contemplating a certain Seinfeld episode. You know the one – it’s when Elaine acts up in a doctor’s office and earns a blistering comment in his physician’s notes. She’s then essentially blackballed by every doctor in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens. Maybe New Jersey.

Pleasant my ass.