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Reflections May 2017

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It’s That Time of Year Again

By Anne Ashley

Our prime-of-life plan is to be invisibly loud, robustly quiet, stealthily annoying and unconventional. We have agreed to relish not being the target audience for rejuvenating skin care regimes, new and improved hair care products, romantic novels, or ballads sung by boy bands.

Every year my older sister and I celebrate our birthdays together – no matter where in the world we are. I'm 11 months younger than she and at one point in the year we are both the same age, causing a month-long party and revelry. Ok, well, perhaps not revelry, per se … but damn close. Even when we lived miles and miles apart, at the very least, as we grew older and more responsible with adult-like responsibilities, we spoke on the phone and compared notes as to how we would be partying (or more often, resting or recuperating from sprains, strains or procedures) and what the next year held for us and our long-suffering partners and families.

Also, every year from the age of 10, we anticipated what our futures would be like, what kind of teens we’d become, what kind of adults, wives, mothers, old ladies … etc., etc. This last year we’ve plotted out our old age. We’re on the cusp of liberty, old-style … and we know it!

When we were young-uns we strategized which of us would be the blasphemer, the goody-two-shoes, the badass, the teacher’s pet or the rebel. I didn’t realize it until decades later but somehow, I was always assigned the onus of going rogue. And looking back, I'm not sure if I eventually gravitated towards those behaviors or I was born to them … either way, I was the braver of the two of us girls and rose to each of the assignments like a boss!

One very clear example of challenge accepted is when we attended a parochial school – sister in the third grade, me in the second. Our displeasure with the harsh regime culminated in a committee meeting where it was decided that we did not like the unfair constraints of the school. The uniforms itched, the lunches were “icky,” the teachers were too strict (although, this complaint came from my camp. I’d tired of how many rapped knuckles I’d suffered or penances I had been given.

And, if truth be told, my “prayers” when my holy-breaches were caught, were nothing more than youngster trash-talk. With head bowed, hands clasped firmly together as if in repentant prayer, I chanted my revenge for the nun’s daring to censure what I thought was brilliance in catching the inconsistencies of their lessons or stories. I mean, parting the sea doesn’t also simultaneously raise the seabed, right? Ok, so someone fell in, right?), and the seemingly never-ending and compulsory church service attendance cut into our playtime, bigly!

So, it was decided that I would stop conforming in any way. I refused to recite prayers, hand in completed homework, answer questions when called on by Sister Mary Katherine (to be fair, following the parting of the Red Sea debacle, I wasn’t called on much), to take part in communion – for political reasons, of course, or wearing my uniform correctly. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t take long before my parents were summoned and encouraged to put the obligatory fear of God back into their daughter or suffer the consequences of being shunned from God’s school. Long story short, they didn’t and we were finally cut lose from our vassalage parochial contract.

Fast forward to this year and big sis and I have decided that we will not go quietly into the night. We won’t fade into the background and we’re going to swear like sailors (AKA, business as usual for me. I remember being about 6 or so and asking an elder relative what f*@k meant. To this day, I can still hear the sharp intake of breath and then the hysteria that followed the innocent query. Note to self, either that word is not Christmas-friendly or it means something completely different to my grandmother!).

Like most of our revolts, I lead and sis followed closely behind. Our prime-of-life plan is to be invisibly loud, robustly quiet, stealthily annoying and unconventional. We have agreed to relish not being the target audience for rejuvenating skin care regimes, new and improved hair care products, romantic novels, or ballads sung by boy bands. We plan on enjoying the invisibility of being under the radar. We’ll nip fruit from the grocery store displays and use our phones during movies at the cinemas. I mean, what monster would throw a granny out of a store just for taking a few grapes or ban old broad from the theater just because she innocently answered a call from one of her grandchildren?

We’re going to enjoy not being bombarded with fashion choices and clothing lines that promise to make us look thinner, taller, younger … etc., etc. It will be pure bliss that only we care what we wear, eat or how glossy our graying tresses are. There are no rules for old broads to follow.

We can’t get it wrong because there is no one watching and judging our behavior. In short, business as usual for me but with just a little more goading for sis!

 

Be sure to follow me on twitter@anneashley57.

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