I have a vivid memory of riding on the giant, vinyl backseat of my mother’s ’66 Buick Special one fine afternoon as a child of about five or so. We were cruising through the parking lot of our local grocery store with Mrs. Greame in the front seat, on some kind of errand. For some reason, I was thinking about the concept of age to myself in the back seat, and realized that I didn’t have all the information. When their conversation lulled, I asked, “Mom, how old are you?”
The women waited a beat or two, and my mother turned to Mrs. Greame, probably with the I-don’t-know-where-this-is-coming-from look on her face.
“Nineteen,” she replied, and both women broke up in laughter. (Mrs. Greame had the kind of laughter you couldn’t ever forget; she also liked to say “Ta-ta!” when leaving a room, followed by that same laughter.)
Of course, being five and very naiive, I ignored the laughter, took this and stored it away as the Gospel Truth. I think I was probably about twenty-three before I did some math and realized that she was fibbing in the way that you do around your friends when your kids ask a strange question.
Happy 39th Birthday, Mom.