September 2, 2010

USA: The Zipper

PORTLAND, Maine / Time Goes By / The Elder Storytelling Place / September 2, 2010

The Zipper

By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr

"One of the blessings of growing old is having lots of memories and someone to share them with."

On a cold day in November ’06, I was going to meet an old boyfriend. I hadn’t seen him in at least 20 years.

He was in a nearby town on business and I was driving about an hour south to meet him.

Now, I was excited and anxious. Twenty years – I’m older, fatter – not the cute young thing that he knew many years ago. Neither is he going to be the handsome young man that I knew many years ago. Over the years we’ve kept in touch - talked and seen each other once in a while. But this time it was 20 or more years since we’d seen each other.

As I’m nearing the meeting place I begin checking myself. Is my hair okay, do I have on lipstick, is my collar straight and then I check the zipper on my pants. It is down a little bit so I pull it up and - what?? It can’t be?? I try again – it’s broken – off the track.

Oh, what shall I do!! I don’t have time to go home – I’ll stop by a bathroom, take off my pants and see if I can fix them. I’ve had luck fixing broken zippers before.

I finally find a bathroom – a dirty grimy one at a mechanics place. It’s filthy – water or something wet all over the floor with oil in some of it. I don’t think the sink and toilet have been cleaned since they were installed, years ago. Paper is decorating this room in all areas.

I start to take off my pants - try not to get them wet or greasy from all the stuff on the floor. I stand on one foot, try to balance, try to hold up my pants with one hand and get them off the other leg without getting them in the floor mess. What an ordeal!

I push and pull and try to realign the zipper with no success. I carefully put my pants back on and I return to the car holding up my pants, almost in tears. I didn’t even take the time to button the top button. How can this happen? Oh, it’s awful!!

Then I remember that there is a Walmart not far down the road. Surely I can find a pair of pants that’ll work there. But if I go, I’ll be late so I call my friend – no answer, leave a message just saying I’ll be late, sorry, don’t worry, nothing is wrong. (Ha!) I’ll explain later.

I get to Walmart. Hurry in – right past the greeter at the door and look for the women’s department. I finally find it. It’s a mile on the other side of the store!

I begin looking for my size. I look here – there, everywhere. Not the right size anywhere. As far as color, I would have worn anything - pinks, plaids, purples, whatever!

Okay, I stopped and gave myself a lecture - calm down, look carefully, there has to be something here. So I begin to look all over again and again and again. These are too little in the waist – I’m not a skinny little thing. These are too long – my legs are comparatively short. So if they fit in the waist, they don’t fit in the legs. I mean I’d have to roll them up to my knees. If they fit in the legs – well, you try to imagine stuffing yourself into something toooooo small. No. No. Nothing. I stop and think – what else can I do?? What else can I do?? Nothing – nothing. This is it.

So, I decide to pull my sweater down and it almost hides the problem and nobody would notice unless they were really looking. Off I went. I met my friend and we immediately began talking just like it was yesterday that we had last seen each other.

We were both the same – a little older and fatter, that’s all. I had brought a picnic basket filled with goodies – wine, glasses, crackers and cheese and photos of us and other friends in the old days.

I completely forgot about my problem, the zipper, until I had to go to the bathroom. Then I explained why I was late. He laughed and laughed and we both made several suggestive remarks. “I wanted to be ready for action when I got here,” I said.

He said that if he’d known that we’d have had immediate action.” He added, “Times have changed, you didn’t used to be so open about your intentions.”

I went to the bathroom, came back and we went on with our conversation. Shortly afterward, we left to go to a nice restaurant for dinner. Neither one of us said anything more or thought about the zipper.

I look back on that time and think - what a great time and a great friend. Neither of us were embarrassed or upset enough for “the zipper” to spoil our evening. BUT, we’ve known each other since I was 16 and he was 18. We were both active in 4-H work. We worked in our county, region and state on activities and projects. We met at some of the state meetings.

Since that time, many years ago, our relationship has taken many turns. Throughout all the years, we have kept sporadically in touch. Enough so that our bond from all those years ago has been kept alive and is still enjoyed even as we reach our seventies.

It is a special treat that at this age. I can talk with someone who knew me growing up, my home, parents and siblings, many mutual friends and college times. One of the blessings of growing old is having lots of memories and someone to share them with.

When time came for me to return home, I was invited to stay the night. His reasoning being – “Well you’re half undressed already. We might as well make it worthwhile.” Always was a romantic fella!!

While this was an interesting proposition, I decided I had enough memories of times past to keep me company. So with a quick peck on the cheek and a bear hug, we said good night and I was off to my home with more memories and thoughts of what might have been.

© 2010 Ronni Bennett.