I touched on this issue about a year ago in this post. There's something about me and old women. It's a dynamic I can't quite explain, but it's not positive. If there's an old woman with an axe to grind - or just a little time to kill - she finds herself in my presence. I went home this past weekend to attend the baby shower of a childhood friend. I grew up going to church with her, and I knew when I accepted the invitation that along with many dear friends, I would likely be reunited with a few less pleasant characters from my youth, many of the old church lady variety.
I arrived to find that my worst fears had been realized. Even my mother shuddered as she entered the party with me. Instantly, time had reversed, I was 16 again, and the room might as well have been lined with pews; pews full of hateful old bitches.
Every church, especially the smaller congregations, has one old lady that serves as the leader among her curmudgeonly peers. She's the one they secretly live in fear of; her judgement as severe as the line on her neck separating a thick makeup foundation and her natural skin tone. For me growing up, this woman was Edith. It's been at least 10 years since I last saw Edith - for all I knew, Edith was dead.
But Saturday I found out Edith is very much alive, and incredibly preserved in the same condition and style she was 10 years ago: tightly curled short perm of dyed black hair, thick glasses, saggy jaw line, orthopedic shoes and what appeared to be hospital scrub pants paired with a Halloween themed t-shirt. The unfriendly grump on her face that I remembered so well was also in place, and it grumped up more when her eyes landed on me.
Edith made a quick move in my direction. "Well, hello there, Snake. It has been so long. Where is it that you live now?" "Hi Edith. I live in Atlanta." "And what is it that you do for a living in Atlanta?" "I'm a fund raiser. I work for a mus...."
She grabs my left hand, gives it a once-over and interrupts with:
"You are not married, is that right?"
"No, I'm not. But I do have a boyf...."
And before I could finish my sentence, Edith was done with me. She smiled, patted me on the shoulder with one withered old lady hand and shuffled in the direction of the quickly forming food line. Things did get better after my initial Edith encounter. I saw a number of women who were very sweet, even one old woman who told me she was proud of me for "not marrying the first one to come along", whatever that means. Considering this was also a woman I hadn't seen in 10 years and whose name I couldn't remember, it was as equally awkward and intrusive as my exchange with Edith, but at least she thought she was being positive. In the end, it was nice to be home and to take a walk down memory lane with childhood friends. And to be reminded that like it or not, whether at home or afar, I will never escape the wrath of the old lady.