I’m sure you’ve had the experience of standing in a checkout line when an old biddy says something like, “I’ve got the change,” and proceeds to fish around in her bag, finally pulling out a small fabric purse with a teeny gold clasp. “Oh no,” you think, “here goes three minutes out of my life.”
Snapping it open, she slowly begins to count out the change, You’re hoping she’s long on quarters and short on pennies because if she’s been saving coppers, you’re in for a long wait. “Twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty…”
“Oh, crap,” you think, “she’s been hoarding nickels. This is going to take all day.”
“…fifty-five, sixty, sixty-one, sixty two, sixty-three, sixty-four…” Then the worst happens, she palms a hunk of pennies and plops them down on the counter, then pushes them one-by-one across toward the clerk as she counts them out. Meanwhile, the customers waiting in line behind her are going into a full figet, shaking their heads, scowling at one another, everyone itching to say, “C’mon lady, we don’t have all damn day!” But everyone knows better, after all, she’s an eighty-plus grandmother and everyone’s got one so they don’t say a word.
“…seventy-two, seventy-three, seventy-four…”
The counter girl stands with arms crossed, following the passage of each penny across the counter. You can tell she’s been here before and knows she has no choice to put up with it. I’ve seen clerks get so exasperated they reach down and quickly swoop the change off the counter like a Las Vegas croupier, saying, “That’s fine, ma’am, that’s enough, that’ll do.”
But it seldom works for the granny keeps going, “eighty-six, eighty-seven…”
Finally, when this granny gets to eighty-nine she says, “There!” with a note of triumph and pushes the collection of change across to the clerk as if to say, “It’s my God-given right to make the correct change and I’m darn well going to take advantage of it.”
So imagine my horror the other day when my wife unzipped the change section of her purse and reached inside. Now my wife’s not a biddy, in fact she’s pretty cute considering her age, but making change? “C’mon,” I protest, “haul out a card and charge it, don’t put me through the agony of watching you count out quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies.”
“Just relax,” she says and goes on counting, “…thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five…”
And I’m standing there behind her in total exasperation, thinking, “How did my wife become a change-counter? How could this have possibly happened to me? We don’t have antimacassars on our furniture or little bowls of candies set out on the coffee table with lace doilies under them or any of the other grandmother-like items that signal dotage. Why has my wife suddenly started counting out change?
“This is a pretty grandmother-like thing for you to do, you know that?”
“Maybe,” she says, “but I’ve got a lot of extra change in my purse and I don’t like carrying it around..”—and then she gets snarky—“…if it’s all right by you.”
I glance back at the other people waiting in line. I know they’re thinking, “This guy must be an old codger because his wife has got her change purse open and she’s counting out coins.” I smile weakly at them, as if to say, “I’ve tried, but to no avail.”
Heading out into the parking lot, I try again. “You know, I wish you wouldn’t go through that making change thing again.”
“Why?” she asks.
“Because it makes you look old, that’s why.”
“You know,” she begins to answer as she climbs into the car and finishes with, “I am, and so are you, so get used to it.”
So along with the aches and pains, the memory stumbling and the hair turning white, I’ve got to deal with the fact that my lovely wife is turning into an old biddy who hauls out her coin purse in the supermarket and counts out change.