Sunday, May 4, 2008

Old guys...

"Old guys love me," I said to Mike after I came home from work one day.

"Yes, we do!" he agreed, waggling his eyebrows at me. Mike is 14 years older than me and an aspiring curmudgeon.

"Not like that, you perv. I meant the old guys at the library!"

Sometimes during my workday one of the other librarians will say, "Hey, Breda. Here comes one of your buddies."

They come to the library alone, widowers most likely, and when they stop at my desk, I always give them my full attention. I smile at them and help them find books and movies. I help them navigate the internet. I personally escort them to the shelves, grateful for the chance to take a short stroll away from my desk.

I listen to them, I make full eye contact. I pay attention. They are brushed off by the rest of female society - the checkout girl at the grocery store is surly and won't make conversation, the bankteller automatically raises her voice because she assumes he's deaf, the lady at the diner pours his coffee and throws his change at him without a second glance. All these women and not one has the time to smile at him.

("Hey, Mike," I asked one day, "Do you think that when guys are 80 or so, they still like girls?"

"Umm...I'm pretty sure that as long as a man isn't dead, he will still like girls, " he answered after a very short moment's consideration. )

So it makes me sad that these old guys get ignored. I really like guys in general, but old guys! They've been places, done things, know lots of stuff and have interesting stories to tell. They are also gentlemanly in a way that no longer exists. Just the other day one of the guys walked past my desk and tipped his cap at me. Old guys tell me stories of WWII, show me photos of grandchildren, ask me out for coffee, and bring me bottles of homemade wine. They share their interests with me: jazz, trains, stamp collecting, leather bound books, gardening, old movies...I've learned a little bit about a lot of things from these guys. On future visits to the library, they come to the reference desk and ask specifically for me not because they are my own personal fan club - but because I am theirs.

( this post was inspired by the site Old Guys Rule. And yes, they totally do!)


falnfenix said...

i think you're in an environment which really lends itself to talking with these people.

often, retail employees simply don't have time to talk with them...or if they take the time, they end up with rude customers in line after the sweet old man, or a manager breathing down their neck because they're taking too long.

i actually got written up when i worked at Hallmark because i'd take the time out to help these men...and the elderly ladies who'd stop in. my manager (who has since been removed from the company for her behavior) was far more interested in her employees ringing the sale, while she did all the "shmoozing." i never understood it, really - being a personal shopper for one older individual would guarantee their return!

bah. society sucks.

Turk Turon said...

That reminds me of a really touching moment from the movie, “My Life As A Dog.”

A nine-year-old boy has been sent to live with his elderly grandparents for a while. His grandfather is very frail and has been blind for many years.

One day the boy is passing his grandfather’s room and he hears a noise. He looks inside and says, “Grandpa, are you all right?”

“Come in, come in,” his grandfather says. “Are you alone?”

“Yes, Grandpa.”

“Good. Close the door.”

Grandfather reaches under the mattress of his bed and produces a very thick book, dog-eared and worn. It looks like an old telephone directory. He hands it to the boy.

“You can read, can’t you?”

“Yes, Grandpa.”

“Good! Turn to page 115 and just start reading anywhere.”

The boy flips the pages until he comes to page 115. He makes a face.

“But, Grandpa …”

“Just read!”

So the boy starts to read.

“’All-cotton seamless with underwire support, front closure and adjustable straps. Demi-cups. Lace-trimmed and available in white, black and peach.’”

He looks up from his reading. His grandfather has a wide grin on his face.

“Go on! Go on! Keep reading. Please.”

Well, you get the idea. It’s an old Sears Roebuck catalog, or maybe, because this is a Swedish movie, it’s Ikea or something. Anyway it’s the “Ladies’ Undergarments” section of the catalog. The old man can’t see the pictures, he hasn’t seen them in 20 years, but if some one will read the descriptions, his memory will do the rest.

So, from all of us Future Fogies of America, a thank-you to all you librarians, and others, who help us with our literary, uh…, needs.

Xavier said...

I guess that's why I keep coming back Breda..... You rock!

Stingray said...

To quote Pat McManus, everybody needs an Old Man or two around.

homebru said...

One of the advantages of getting older is the ever increasing number of really cute younger ladies.

Earl said...

Almost there myself, but I wonder does it grate just a little when they call you "Ma'am"? It has always bothered the women I have met and that is what my mother told me to call them, if I didn't know their name, and female officers in the Army, no matter how much younger than I got the same. Yes, Ma'am! Old guys rock, but you know that. Thanks for mentioning it.

Hobie said...

Hey! There's hope for me yet!!! *LOL*

Sebastian said...

It's also, I think, very distressing for men to realize they are no longer attractive or interesting to young women. I have to admit, that when I sort of realized that I was approaching an age when college aged girls would look at me and think "eeew... too old" it was a bit distressing.

Of course, then I met Bitter, who is seven years younger than I. So maybe I was feeling prematurely old.

doubletrouble said...

Thanks Breda!

I'm only a few, err, couple years away, ahh, well…I'm there already.
I've yet to meet one of "you" in my small world, but keep it up; hold the knowledge that you are doing wonderful things for some great people in a small way.


Tam said...

If it weren't for Old Guys, I wouldn't know anything about guns. They have been wonderful mentors to me over the years.

When one of the older collectors I knew back in K-town called and asked me a Smith & Wesson question, it was the proudest moment of my career. I felt like I'd walked a hundred yards of rice paper without tearing it.

phlegmfatale said...

I go to a diner in dallas where they will seat a single person at a table with only one available seat, and I often will be seated at a table with 6 or 7 older gentleman. I can sense the frisson of "there's a cute young thing at the table" and they always treat me like the belle of the ball-- what's not to like? old guys rock.

it's really a shame we live in times in which great swathes of humanity are marginalised by the very folk who rely on their business for sustenance.

oh, and you rock, too, breda!

Willorith said...

Breda rules!

My wife tells me I have been practicing to be an old fart since i was in my 20's. Now i am cruising through my 50'S and I have achieved a certain level of competence at old fartitude. I take great pleasure in refering to women I meet as Madam, in not wearing a hat indoors, except as a safety device, ever, in holding doors open for women and men alike, in making eye contact and smiling, in telling a fetching lass, no matter her age, "Madam, you look marvelous" in the Billie Crystal manner.
I also take great pleasure in reading my friend Breda's blog.
Breda, if you needed help in Ohio, you could call on your army of armed old farts and have hundreds of us at your door in a day or two. Ready to carry out your wishes. Use your power wisely.

Breda said...

fenix - that kind of makes me sad...for both you and the customer.

turk - I'll have to see that!

Earl - "Ma'am" is perfectly nice, although I usually get "Miss"ed.

sebastian - a girl who'd say "eeew... too old" to a man who's a bit older is maybe not the girl you'd want anyhow ;)

phlegmmy - I can't imagine you being anything other than the belle of every ball!

willorith - with great power comes great responsibility.

kaveman said...

"Umm...I'm pretty sure that as long as a man isn't dead, he will still like girls, " he answered after a very short moment's consideration. )

Reminds me of an old joke.

An elderly man is sitting on the front porch as a young boy walks past with a long length of chicken wire.

"Boy, I say boy, wheres you going with all that chicken wire?"

"To catch some chickens." the boy replied.

"Are you stupid? You cants catch no chickens with chicken wire!"

15 minutes later the boy walks back the opposite direction with an armload of chickens.

The next day the same young boy walks past the same old man carrying several rolls of duct tape.

"Boy, I say boy, wheres you going with all that duct tape?"

"To catch some ducks." the boy replied.

"You still stupid? you cants catch no ducks with duct tape."

15 minutes later the boy returns with several ducks under each arm.

The next day the boy walks by carrying several pussy-willow plants.

The old man eased up out of his chair and said...

"Hold up there boy, I'm comin' with ya.

Breda said...

kaveman - I guess you and turk answered my question! =)

Andrew said...

I work part time at a gym where we have plenty of old codgers, male and female. One was a retired German professor, who liked to exercise his Deutsch with me.One day he commented on my having been a paratrooper. He asked how many jumps I had. I said a hundred and some odd. He shakes his head and says "Shoot, I've only got eight..." then he smiles and goes " five of 'em combat though."

Fits said...

It isn't just the senior men who are starving for company. I load up a bus a few times a week to take seniors shopping, and the average age excluding myself is 84. Most of the riders are women because women outlive men, and my oldest turned 100 couple weeks back. To a gal they say the same thing; getting some attention, someone to really listen and talk with them is priceless.

Anonymous said...

When I was in college the first time, I ended up getting "adopted" by a bunch of WWII vets, Allied and Axis, in the course of my studying and volunteering at air shows. I had wonderful times, learned an incredible lot, and still keep in touch with many of the gentlemen. (I also learned when to politely excuse myself so they could cuss, which they didn't like to do if I was around!)

Assrot said...

I agree with Mike to some extent. As long as a man is not dead he likes women. The definition of like starts to change after you turn 50 or so.

I for one just like someone pretty and intelligent to talk to. You don't have to be a super model to get my attention and sex is not the first thing I think about when I see a nice woman.

I've always had a thing for women librarians. Maybe it's just because I like women and I like books but I think the female librarian is a special breed. They are usually very pretty but naturally so and usually more intelligent than the average gal.

I have a special place in my heart for female librarians and I generally think about them with the larger of my two heads.