Kathleen Norton

Archive for the ‘baby boomers’ Category

What's not to love?

OK people, get ready for a stroll down movie memory lane.

If it’ll help, grab some popcorn and chase it down with Ginkoba.

In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, let me know your favorite all-time movie from the ’60s or ’70s. We’ll share here – and in my newspaper column for the Poughkeepsie NY Journal.

You probably don’t even have to think that hard about it.

Saturday Night Fever? Jaws? Love Story? Carrie? M*A*S*H? Easy Rider? The Godfather? The Way We Were? The Graduate?

It may be the first movie you saw with the old “M’’ rating, or the first one you saw with the guy or gal who’d be “The One.’’

It may be the movie you saw four times in a theater that had only one movie showing at a time.

Remember when everybody going into a theater at the same time was there to see the same film?

To get things rolling, this baby boomer will reveal her all-time favorite movie.

It’s the one I have seen at least 45 times – three times when it first came out – but most of my viewings have been on TV.

I simply can’t click past it. I have to stop whatever I’m doing, put my feet up and watch Rocky Balboa beat the you-know-what out of a side of beef before he gets you-know-what pounded out of him in the boxing ring.

I love the movie so much I even watch the sequels – even the one when they kill off Adrian, who of course is on the receiving end of my all-time favorite movie line: “Yo Adrian!’’

Ok, it’s not Shakespeare. But I’m a sucker for an underdog and Rocky led the pack in that category. He still does.

I mean come on, how many barely literate tough guys can melt a girl’s heart simply by introducing her to a couple of pet turtles named “Cuff and Link.’’

And don’t get me started on the “Rocky’’ theme song. One bar and I’m jogging up the nearest flight of steps and at the top, doing the slow-motion Rocky jumping dance.

It used to get laughs in our house. But after 24,867 performances, they don’t even look up.

“Go ahead,’’ they say. “Knock yourself out. We’ll wait.’’

A couple of years ago, we went to Philadelphia and I hit pay dirt. I found a shop that sold Rocky paraphernalia only.

They even sold a fleece throw blanket featuring the scene where Rocky beats up that bloody meat. How’d you like to snuggle with that on the couch?

I had to be dragged out of the shop against my will and don’t remember seeing the Liberty Bell though I am told we went there on that trip.

BTW, the picture you see here is what’s on my favorite T-shirt.

So now you know my favorite movie from the ’60s and ’70s – and possibly of all time. How about the rest of you?

Send them in lickety-split. To get inspired, click here for some scenes from the original Rocky!



Retirement paradise?

Just dragged myself away from Facebook where one boomer friend after another is posting about dreams for retirement.

Some are years away from the end goal. But does that stop us?

Hec, no. This is the boomer generation we’re talkin’ about.

There are 78 million of us – we dream big.

Personally, I would like to live in Ireland half the year in its least rainy season and New York the other half a year in its least snowy season – not the best plan since those seasons would kind of coincide (see above for reference to unrealistic dreams).

Every boomer gal and boomer guy’s retirement dreams differs, except for one major similarity – no boomers ever talk about retiring to colder weather.

That’s why I was shocked to read an online article on Money.com called the “Ten Best States for Retirement.’’

Only one state south of the Mason-Dixon line – Virginia – made the “best’’ list.

As a matter of fact, the state I would have voted one of the least popular for retirees was No. 1.

Ready to know what it is? Brace yourself. It’s gonna be a shocker.

New Hampshire. Yes, New Hampshire, the state with the misquoted state motto.

Everyone thinks it’s: “Live free or die.”

But really, it’s this: “Live, freeze, then die.”

We used to live in Vermont next door to New Hampshire so I know what I am talking about.

We took a drive across the border every spring thaw – at the end of June.

The weather in that part of the country can only be described like this: Nine months of winter and three months of darn, poor sleddin’.

As a whole, New Hampshire is incredibly beautiful and friendly and you gotta admire a place where moose sightings and presidential politics get equal billing.

But most boomers I know are hoping to retire to a place where the coldest day of the year is in the high 60s, not the warmest day.

So what gives with this list? According to Money.com, it was based partly on the cost of living, unemployment rates, tax rates, and crime rates.

I also guess that the person who wrote the article also is about 32 and has only been to New Hampshire for ski weekends and hot tub adventures with his college friends.

Under all these circumstances, I can see why New Hampshire came up at the top of the list.

When you can dig out of your retirement place during those “poor sleddin” months, you’ll be able to get a retirement job, be safer on the streets and pay less for goods.

In New Hampshire, those goods would be endless supplies of woolen socks, enough heating oil to fill a tanker, ibuprofen to offset aches and pains brought on by the cold winters and annual airplane tickets south so you can escape the No. 1 Place to Retire.

And so I ask: How’s New Hampshire’s looking for those golden years now?

Ya, that’s what I thought.

It was the strangest feeling.

Since turning 50, at every hair appointment, it felt like I was putting on a mask on my head.

But I tucked those misgivings away and kept using hair color to cover up streaks of silver and white that had been dogging me for  decades.

My pretense was that time was not marching on, though there was plenty of other evidence to the contrary.

Just ask my upper arms.

Every year, the divide between my real age and my hair’s age got bigger while my hair maintenance schedule took over my life.

“Hair Day!’’ was scrawled on every month of the calendar and no social event was attended without a determination of  whether the roots could be seen in public, or in pictures.

I had vowed to “age gracefully” without unnatural interventions but my policy had an unstated hair exemption.

But last year, several friends stopped coloring.

Some whispered that these women looked older, in tones that suggested they’d committed felonies. But the women themselves were thrilled and said they’d never go back.

Then I went to a social function with my parents’ friends. At least half of the women still had dyed hair.

“I’ll never go gray,’’ one woman confided. “It ages women.’’

She was about 85 and looked not a day over 81.

“So that’s where this is all leading,’’ I considered.

Next, I found pictures of my grandmother and her cousin, now long dead, when they were middle-aged. Both had striking salt and pepper hair and were beautiful.

I envied this generation of women, which had far fewer advantages than mine, but never had to endure this catchphrase: “Fifty is the new 30!’’

Right after this, my sister sent me a link to a video of two California news anchorwomen, on station KPIX, who stopped coloring their hair and went “natural’’ in front millions. They looked far better, more like themselves.

I made a commando decision. “Cut it short and ditch the dye,’’ I said to the hairdresser during the next visit. “We’ll deal with what’s under there.

That was nine months ago. A short, layered cut has helped the colors blend during the tedious, growing out process. On bad days, I turned to hairbands or hats.

I almost faltered once, but hung in there. Now, it’s about 85 percent done with salt and pepper in most places and white streaks in others. I use lots of conditioner and need frequent cuts but the new head feels more like me – we’re both in our 50s.

People’s reactions fall into three categories: Positive reactions. No reaction, which means they don’t care or they’re too horrified to say. And then there’s awkwardness.

“That picture they were using of you with dark hair in the newspaper must have been really old,’’ said one person.

“Not really,’’ I corrected. “My hair just looked younger than it was.’’

So that’s my hair story, ladies and gentlemen. What’s yours?

Post it here or email to: kathleennorton1@gmail.com

I am sure we will have plenty to talk about.

The Ugly American

Americans, on the whole, are nice people. But there is something we need to work on.

Some of us think the way that we do things in our country is the only way to do things and that people in other countries have it all wrong because they are not us.

And, because we are Americans, the “ugly” ones among us are not shy about expressing superiority.

Know what I mean?

I reached this conclusion while standing on line at an airport with lots of Americans and lots of people from the country we were leaving.

It happened to be Ireland, where the national pastime is treating visitors well.

As we waited, an American complained that the line was moving slowly because, as she explained loudly to everyone around us, we were not in America.

Ironically, at the same time she also boasted of her Irish heritage, a tidbit the Irish people on line did not seem particularly happy to hear.

I swear the word “eejit’’ was whispered up and down the line and at least one person “accidentally’’ kicked her suitcase, causing the American to add “clumsiness’’ onto the pile of bad traits she was assigning to this lovely country.

Despite her lineage, she said she was glad that she was a citizen of America, where, she declared, things happen when they’re supposed to.

“Oh, it figures. They’re on their ‘Irish’ time over here. We’ll never get on that plane!’’ she whined.

Really? I wanted to say. An entire country that never gets anything done on time? Sounded like she had never stood on anything but quick lines in America.

I also wanted to remind her that Ireland is an English-speaking country and everyone around us knew what she was saying.

Yet I was afraid to do so and risk the chance that others would think we were together. But that didn’t stop her from speaking to me.

This happens to me all the time. My kids used to cringe when we were in public because total strangers seemed to seek me out for conversation.

Maybe I look very friendly. Maybe I look like I very much need a friend. Who knows? But it happened again at the airport.

Her: “Have you ever seen anything like this?’’

Me: (No answer)

Her: “That guy over there is getting paid to do nothing. We should report him to the authorities. That’ll teach ‘em.’’

Me: (No answer)

Her: “When these people get to America they’ll find out how things should be done.’’

Me: (No answer)

Her: “I’ll be so glad to get back home. What state are you from?’’

Me: (No answer but thinking silently: “Please go away and leave me alone!’’)

Finally, we got to the head of the line where the agents were hospitable to everyone (naturally) and checked us though to the plane that would take us to America.

They appeared to treat everyone in the same pleasant manner, though the Ugly American on our line did seem to get very quick processing.

Maybe the agents were just doing their jobs.

Or maybe, I thought, they were doing their country a favor.

Shock and awe

Our wool hats and scarves are barely tucked away and KAPOW!

Every clothing store on earth has put out racks of little, bitty, colorful bathing suits that assault us when we walk in the door.

It’s the fashion version of “shock and awe’’ and I ask:

Must they remind us that soon, all women no matter how tall, short, narrow or wide begin a period of ritual self-loathing also known as Swimsuit Season?

If a woman’s hefty, she thinks every suit makes her look heftier. If she’s scrawny, she thinks they make her look scrawnier.

And men do not get it why bathing suits make us suffer so.  They just don’t.

Oh sure, they complain about a little flab here and there. They may look in the mirror when they are 62 and come to this startling realization: OMG! I am not a young man anymore!

But for the most part, they float along, not caring how they look in a bathing suit except for when at 20-year-old chick walks by at the beach.

This concern passes quickly and soon they are back to bathing suit la-la land, which explains why you see guys in little Speedos when their little Speedo days are obviously over.

A man would wear the same swimsuit from age 20 to 70 if his wife did not stop him.

“You’re not getting on that ship for our anniversary cruise in the bathing suit you wore on our honeymoon!’’ the woman says.

“But those trunks are only 35 years old!’’ he replies.

“I have crow’s feet older than that. Get a new one,’’ she orders and he goes to the store and buys the first one he sees.

For the woman, it’s not the same.

She would not be caught dead in an old suit because she thinks that like every other one she’s owned, it looks bad on her.

So the woman goes to the store for a new one and tries on 483 swimsuits.

She repeats this ritual in 13 other stores, which if you are keeping track, is 6,279 swimsuits taken on and off.

Then she orders 146 more online and has to pay to send all of them back because none are right.

Now she has tried on 6,425 suits, spent $1,460 on return shipping, and adds “buy wig’’ to the To-Do List because she’s pulled out her hair in frustration.

After a good cry and a vow to undo damage from a late-winter delivery of Girl Scout cookies, she starts again.

Eventually, she finds a suit she likes. Loosely translated in women-speak this means she hates it less than the others.

On the cruise, he thinks he looks great – guy gut and all. She hardly dares to breath and let out her stomach.

Turns out the “tummy control’’ tag that came with her suit, and every suit these days, is propaganda worthy of the old Communist Party.

Which takes us back to those racks of bathing suits in all the stores.

Ladies, we could let them get the best of us again this year. Or, we could buy them up and have a spectacular polyester bonfire.

Matches, anyone?

If only they worked like they used to.

Before last Friday, I’d only ever searched one parking lot on my hands and knees.

It was way back in college when I’d lost the most important thing in my life at that time – my ticket for Ladies’ Night at the campus pub.

But that seek-and-find mission was a cinch compared to last week. Plus, it ended with a free beer.

The only thing I had to show for my recent efforts were gravel tattoos on my knees and a giant headache because I never found the thing that got lost.

And it was the one thing I cannot live without these days.

I am not talking about my eternally patient husband. I am not talking about the secret stash of hormone survival chocolate in the back of the kitchen cabinet (which had better be there when I get home).

I am talking here about something far more critical to my survival at age 53.

I am talking about my reading glasses.

If you’re old enough to remember when thongs were footwear, you are gasping as you read this and saying: “OMG! She lost her reading glasses! What will she do?’’

If you are 40 or younger, you’ll have no clue why I might have been so desperate to find them.

You won’t understand why I ran into the restaurant I’d just left, grabbed the 20-year-old hostess by the collar and begged for help.

You’ll be aghast to know that I made my daughter, who was about six minutes from giving birth, help me search, and that we had her 2-year-old join in.

“Let’s dance with Elmo!’’ she squealed and ran in a circle.

“Get back to work, kiddo!’’ I replied, figuring that since she is the shortest among us she had the best chance of finding anything down on the ground.

What can I say? I was desperate.

Over the age of 50, you can lose just about any other possession and not go into a complete panic. But lose those reading glasses and your world turns upside down. Instantly, you are Mr. (or Mrs.) Magoo.

You can’t read the stockpile of anti-aging vitamin bottles on the kitchen counter (including the ones that were supposed to improve give you better vision) and you can’t figure out if you’re cooking a roast at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or at 35 degrees for 350 minutes.

Without those glasses, I couldn’t read the text messages and I couldn’t see the little tiny pictures and videos that being sent to my phone.

I got a text about somebody’s else’s new grandbaby, though I have no clue whose it was.

There was also a picture of a beautiful river somewhere, unless it was a picture of a flooded basement.

I think I got a video of my 2-year-old granddaughter driving a toy car. Either that, or it was my friend, who is also short and brunette, in a new sports coupe.

I won’t know until the new glasses come in. Bribing the eye doctor people might have sped up this process.

But it turns out that they are very moral people.

Darn them.

So for the near future, it’s back to tweezing gravel off my leg, remembering a time when a lost pub pass was my biggest problem and seeing the world through a fuzzy and frustrating lens.

As beefcake photos go, it was not the most revealing.

The subject was covered from the neck down in pants, a winter coat and a scarf.

He also sported minor jowls, a head of hair that is surely dyed and lines around his eyes that crinkled like tissue paper.


He looked so good that I did not mind if my neighbors saw me standing at the mailbox gawking at Robert Redford, an AARP Magazine cover boy.

Normally, I would stuff the magazine under my jacket, run into the house and say loudly, “Look! They put this stupid thing in our box again by accident!’’

Then my husband would say, “Guess that AARP card in your wallet is there by accident, too.’’

But not this time. There was no discussion at all. Not with those blue eyes staring back at me from the front page.

Who cared if anybody saw me at the box as the music swelled inside my head and Barbra Streisand began the lyrics to “The Way We Were.’’

Me and Bob were in a time warp, and there was no escape.

It was the 1970s and I was one of three teenage girls huddled in a tiny bedroom, plotting a huge undertaking:

Convincing our mothers that we were old enough to see the new Redford-Streisand movie.

That was Plan A.

Our Plan B was the usual – fib to our mothers, sneak in and see the movie anyway.

It was rated “M’’ for mature audiences, which meant you didn’t have to show any proof of age but you had to be ‘’mature,’’ which was up to your parents.

Up to then, we were seeing movies that featured cartoon characters, talking or flying cars and singing nuns.

Now we were asking to see a movie that might have a scene where a man and woman were in a room with a bed.

Our mothers surely did not think we were “mature’’ enough to handle that and they were already mad about one thing or another.

So they did the worst thing that mothers can do. They conferred with each other.

There’s only one thing worse than a suspicious mother: A suspicious mother who calls in reinforcements.

We don’t know what they said to each other, but our imaginations ran wild.

One mother might say she’d heard there were love scenes involving Robert Redford. The second mother would confirm this. The third mother could suggest that the girls were forbidden but the three of them should go and not tell.

We were in a panic. What if that really happened? Now we were afraid of Plan B (fibbing and sneaking) because we may run into our mothers.

Talk about a pickle.

As expected, we were told we could not go. We enacted Plan B anyway. We figured Redford was worth the risk. And he was. That smile practically melted the theater screen.

Whether our mothers snuck around on us, too, we never found out. But I sure hope so now that I know what it’s like to raise teenagers.

Today, everyone in this story is on the AARP mailing list – mothers and daughters alike – and history is repeating itself.

We’re all in a trance, this time at our mailboxes, thanks to Robert Redford.

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