It was a day of weird comments. First, during my weekly volunteer gig at the Food Bank, one of the clients explained, in no uncertain terms, the reason for the obesity crisis in this country: people have quit smoking.
Forget about fast food, forget about choosing electronic games over physical activity, forget about high fructose corn syrup. According to this guy, if overweight folks would simply pick up a carton or two of cigs and start puffing away again, the problem would be solved.
After leaving the Food Bank, I stopped to pick up a few things at the grocery store (none of which contained tobacco or high fructose corn syrup, by the way) and as I wrestled away one of the carts from the outdoor rack I inadvertently blocked another shopper’s path.
“Oh, I’m sorry!” I exclaimed when I noticed what I’d done. “I was walking backwards and didn’t see you.”
“It’s all right,” she assured me. “We’re all walking backwards.”
I might have pointed out the fellow at the Food Bank who believes all Americans should backpedal to the nicotine-fueled days of tar-stained fingers and black lung would probably disagree. Yet assuming she was speaking in a more global sense, I simply smiled.
Less than 48 hours later I found myself traveling backwards again, though this time not in a parking lot. Instead, this rearward trajectory was a result of an email I received — a Facebook message, to be precise, a “friend” request from someone John and I went to college with and had since completely lost touch.
This isn’t the first college friend with whom I’ve reconnected through Facebook. As silly as social media can be — and oh my, can it ever — it’s difficult for me to argue with these kinds of results. I’ve been enjoying contact with my sophomore college roommate for some time, and now here shows up one of John’s former roommates and best friends from that same era. This one surprised me more, maybe because he’s male. (Females tend to make for better pen pals, in my experience, and I see Facebook as essentially the same thing). Or maybe it’s because my memory of him, although vivid, is kind of a drug-addled. His addled state, as well as ours. (This was, after all, college in the early 1970s.)
All these years later, we find out he’s an upstanding citizen, a pillar of his community who drives a bus for special needs children. He’s been long married, has an adult son and one granddaughter.
Wait a minute. A granddaughter? As in his child’s child?
How can that be? I mean, he’s our age! And as we all know, John and I are far too young — FAR too young — to have grandchildren. Heck, we never had kids at all so even the idea of one of our old classmates…hang on, let me rephrase that…the idea of one of our former classmates having children older than, say, eleven is already a bit freaky.
Come to think of it, though, this former classmate and others we’ve subsequently “friended” are indeed starting to look a bit longer in the tooth. Gray hair, wrinkles around the eyes, extra padding in the midsection. And that’s what grandparents look like, right?
Thank goodness John and I still look exactly as we did the day we were married, over 36 years ago.
That’s us in the center. But you know that already, don’t you? Yes, of course you do because other than a change of fashion and hairstyles (for which we should all be eternally grateful) we’re both just as thin, our locks are just as brown and our skin is just as smooth as when that photo was snapped.
As proof, I refuse to post a more recent picture. You’d only be jealous.
Okay, okay, I’ll ‘fess up. I’m not reed thin anymore, not by a long shot (and I’m remaining steadfastly mum on the hair and wrinkles issue). And while I have no desire to be 21 years old again, I wouldn’t mind at all still being able to squeeze into that dress. That’s one backward step I’d be happy to take, fashion be damned.
John, on the other hand, has retained his girlish figure all this time. Even our recent Facebook friend expressed concern about John’s health, referring to photos I’ve posted of him as looking “awful skinny and almost gaunt.” I assured our newly rediscovered pal that John is absolutely fine, always has been. Truth is, he eats like a horse but is just naturally slender.
And get this: he doesn’t even smoke.