I surveyed the area again looking for “cute and old” when I realized “the tell.” We were the only ones doing it – holding hands.
“They’re so cute. I hope you and I are like that when we get old,” I heard the young woman with a New York accent whisper to her companion. After a brief silence, he laughed and replied, “Sure we will.” It was obvious he was into the here-and-now, not thirty years into the future. It didn’t surprise me; it’s more of a female thing to forecast her destiny in a moment of daydreaming clarity.
I looked around us to see this sweet old couple. There was no one nearby walking the deck of the cruise ship I could apply the conversation to. Suddenly, it occurred to me that the couple might have been talking about us.
My husband’s grayish white hair framed the red and blue of his Red Sox hat that hid the bald spot smack at the crown of his head. His white, knobby chicken legs, once tanned, hairy and sculpted with thick muscle, stuck out in sharp contrast with his navy blue golf shorts.
I, on the other hand, had hidden my graying tresses with a youthful L’Oreal Champagne Blonde (shade 8½ A). What was my give away? Maybe, the filmy shawl with the three quarter sleeves covering my summer shift stuck out like medieval armor in a sea of scanty tank tops and short shorts. I surveyed the area again looking for “cute and old” when I realized “the tell.” We were the only ones doing it – holding hands. I hadn’t really thought about it. It was something we frequently did when walking together. Secretly, I thought it was romantic, but I was also suspicious that it was my husband’s way of making me walk faster. Weebles popped into my mind – little round bottomed dolls the kids used to play with. Did we look like Weebles attached together so we didn’t fall down?
I was miffed. Old? Mature, maybe, but not old. And cute – like little kids playing grownups! Really? My husband and I had evidently entered the dichotomy zone.
I watched the couple while they ordered drinks at the bar. They looked to be in their late thirties, still athletic but seasoned. They possessed that controlled freedom that emanates from professional couples with no children. For a moment, I was envious, and then, I couldn’t imagine that kind of life for me.
I grabbed a froufrou drink and went back to our cabin complete with a balcony to view the ocean, soaring birds and majestic mountains in the distance. But, instead of enjoying the bucket list display, I sat in front of the tiny closet trying to decide what to wear for dinner. What could I do to update our look from old/cute to experienced/cool? I pulled out a new bathing suit that I had no intentions of wearing. I had purchased it as a last minute thought for the trip. One must have a bathing suit on a cruise. Knowing that I would never wear it, I had been emboldened to purchase a daring, low cut turquoise and brown number with iron clad support. Silver flecks salted the sleek fabric. It said “party” or at the very least “I’m not dead, yet.” It could definitely serve the dual purpose as a fancy top paired with my gauzy brown pants. My silvered rimmed turquoise necklace and bangle bracelets would be the perfect finishing touch. I was glad I’d remembered to dig out the metallic sandals for this trip.
I flipped through my husband’s slacks finding his newest dress pair. Not comfortable enough for golf, they were perfect for a night out on the town (boat). I selected one of his few shirts with no golf course insignia and placed them out on the bed alongside his jacket. He wouldn’t notice the significance of my choices. He would be happy to wear clean jeans and a sports shirt every day and submitted to whatever I picked out for special occasions.
Dressed and ready to reveal the “inner” me, I sat outside on the balcony chair. The cool breeze felt wonderful against my neck and bare arms (a rare and daring sensation). I laughed at the foolishness I’d obsessed over for the past hour. Silly, but in the end, a little spice wouldn’t hurt anything. Maybe it was a good thing to see yourself as others do. I could go back to my comfortable clothes tomorrow; tonight I was the me of my thirties – okay –forties.
Familiar voices drifted up carried by the slight wind. I strained to see the deck. The couple from New York stood next to the railing not moving, seeming to enjoy the majestic scene in front of them. Good for them, I thought feeling magnanimous. At that very moment, they turned to face opposite directions. Their cell phones were glued to their ears. They both took steps in the opposite direction, laughing into their phones, more animated than I’d seen them all afternoon.
Ha! I thought wickedly. They will never be “cute!”
“Hey,” my husband said stepping out of the room dressed and shaven. My heart skipped a little as I looked at my handsome husband in his dinner attire. He whistled when he saw the silver flecks dancing around my low cut neckline. He held out his hand to take mine. I took it and held on tight.We were almost out the door when I hesitated. I reached back into the room and grabbed the filmy shawl off the hook. I put it over my arms and tied it with a flourish in front of the deep V.
Yeah, we’re bad; we’re cool. Well . . . almost.