How Bout Those Choppers

There’s a woman who reads at the library who’s eighty-five if she’s day. You’re always  alerted to her arrival because the reading room doors suddenly swing open like she’s entering a saloon.

Despite a walker, she is admirably ambulatory and indignantly independent. When she first started to come, she annoyed me to no end being a first-class pill. There’s a certain etiquette in the reading room she tends to ignore like, if I’m reading the newspaper it means she can’t have it. She’ll come over smiling sweetly asking, “Are you done with that?”

“Do I look done Gramma?”  images-1

But after excavating twenty layers of Catholic guilt, I realized, she’s just old and deserves tolerance, and perhaps even a New York Times.

Unfortunately, many of my peers aren’t as patient showing animated disdain toward her ongoing antics playing the old card to the hilt. Since you’re not supposed to talk, one tends to mime their annoyance. Imagine Marcel Marceau in a snit over the sports page (turns out she’s a Yankee fan).

I saw her last Monday on Park Avenue so naturally I said hello. You can see she’s grateful to be acknowledged…makes me very wistful to be quite honest. We too often treat the elderly as discards. The fact that at her age, she can still get around so well, is more of a grace than one realizes.

“Are you going to the library?” I asked, once again forgetting to ask her name.

“No, my dentist…to see about my teeth.” It was the first time I saw what bright blue eyes she has.

What I haven’t mentioned, about a month or so ago, she came in toothless. I remember thinking, oh my God, did she forget them at home…are they bobbing in a glass on her nightstand? images-2 I hope she didn’t leave them somewhere like a lunch counter or Bloomingdales. My Al-Anonic tendencies went into immediate overdrive.

Come to find out they were recently extracted, and she was simply waiting for them to come from the shop, as she put it.

Fast forward to Saturday. I’m in my favorite easy chair with Cary Grant, a little memoir by an ex girlfriend of his, that’s so badly written I can’t put down. Feeling a presence, I look up and who’s perched on the edge of the coffee table across from me, but this woman.

I gather myself, since she scared me, and say,”Do you need something?”

She smiles back and it hits me, she got her teeth that she’s proudly showing me.

It was as though she had given birth to twins…an upper and a lower. images

“I gave her a big grin and whispered, “Congratulations, they’re beautiful.”

She was positively elated over her new smile. When she started to say something, we heard a collective, Shh, so she returned to her seat.

I have to say, her dentist is quite the aesthete since they are blindingly white and so even, she could easily do a Pepsodent ad. Think Farrah Fawcett if she had lived to be eighty.

The crazy part of me that needs to be medicated thought, hmm, maybe I should introduce her to my agent, but rationale, thank God, took over and said, Susannah dear….

how bout we get back to Cary.   the-awful-truth2

Photos courtesy Google Images




About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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23 Responses to How Bout Those Choppers

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, I’m sure she appreciated your kindness.
    My father is 87 and extremely active and mobile. However, he has become a bit frustrated when someone doesn’t follow him in his conversations, which ends up translating to irritation. He switches topics, willy nilly, and you need a score card to know who and what he’s referring to. You are right to practice tolerance and patience, someday that might be us.


  2. micklively says:

    Another touching but amusing piece: many thanks Susannah.


  3. katecrimmins says:

    Old people just want to be acknowledged. I found that out during my working career. They have stories and advice they so want to share but us young’uns aren’t having any of it. Kudos to you for validating her. BTW I finished reading your book. I loved it! It was like a big dose of thingirl during a most bizarre weekend. You were the only sane spot! (Did you ever think anyone would say that about you?)


  4. I love this! Fits in with how I try to live my life (most of the time!) – treat others as you would want to be treated x


  5. Arthur Seder says:

    Ah, the dentist – my second home and where I send most of my disposable income. And not for dazzlers, I can assure you – just to keep from losing them any faster than I have to. As far as I know, my father died with virtually all his own teeth, and my mother, at 86, still has all of hers, so I’m wondering why I, with the fluoridated water and all, am the one with two “dental appliances” and counting…


  6. Patricia says:

    Old people do seem to become invisible. Even to newly old like me.


  7. That’s great. Elderly people can be so sweet sometimes. I think I do better with children, but I used to love to sit and talk with my grandparents. They have so much to share.


    • I was madly in love with my grandfather…my first great crush. He was so kind, and I know that’s where I get it from…watching him time and time again happily help others. The elderly should lecture. Should be mandatory since they know so much and we seem to know so little.


      • I like that idea, of elderly people lecturing. Now if only young people would listen. 🙂 (that’s a big generalization, I know, but I think it’s mostly deserved, that young people don’t like to take advice from old people)


      • I agree…I never did…except with my grandfather who was a huge influence. He was just so happy all the time as he served the world. The woman with the teeth…she does inspire the way she keeps going. It’s truly amazing.


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