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Reconnecting with the Double O’s

There are friends and then there are old, old friends. The Double O friends are the people you knew at camp, grade school, high school or college. Maybe in the service, maybe from the old home town, but you, long ago, shared the same stomping ground. (Catholic schools count double points as a stomping ground.)

This shared history is powerful friendship glue and few emotional pleasures are as keen as reconnecting with these blasts from the past – maybe with someone who used to wear pedal pushers and giggle with you about Snooky Lanson on TV. Then there were the boys, now deep into their Social Security years. They wore porkpie hats, narrow ties and talked about bases and how to get there. (Rarely did they hit a home run in the 1950s, but it was intriguing to imagine.)

Taking Up Where You Left Off



One of the miracles of growing older is finding that these friendships are a renewable resource. The character, the humor, the spunkiness, the smarts that attracted you are likely to still attract decades later. Last week, the woman who made me laugh 50 years ago at the wrong time in school made me laugh at a memorial service for our dead classmates. Bad girls – and inappropriate still.

Probably inappropriate forever, though we are too old to go to detention. And my goal is to be inappropriately giggling with Witty Patricia 20 years from now.




Some Things Never Change

Well, they change a little. Women still are champs at exchanging confidences, though the character of the subject matter differs over the decades. We still do talk about men or the lack of them, makeup, clothes and family. We no longer exchange recipes – been there, done that. We no longer complain about cramps, unless they are in our legs at night. To our credit, we talk a lot more about politics, the world, the environment and voting. We seem to have become far more aware of the main issues on the global docket and more involved than ever in trying to bring about change. So we’ve improved. Gone beyond Snooky to Obama.

Men will have to speak up for themselves, but my observation at home is that the people Cranky Pants loved back then and still knows now are high on his list. And perhaps one of the greatest male mentors when it comes to treasuring vintage friendships was Tim Russert, devoted to all the people he knew way back when in Buffalo. Case in point: Sister Lucille who showed up at his memorial service.

Words to the Wise

Maybe you’ve stayed in touch with the oldies and goodies and maybe you haven’t. If you want to get in touch, pick up a phone. If you don’t know where the person is, try Google, a marvelous online tool for finding lost lambs. On Google, I re-found a friend after forty-five years, a woman I had lost to time, travel and marriage. (Wedding bells do break up that old gang, especially when a woman changes her name, which is why I kept my maiden moniker, so the kids from 8th grade could find me.) Many schools also keep rosters of alums. To find relatives, try the genealogy websites or call the family busybody.

Note that later life friendships have become chic. There’s a new and growing business in girlfriend getaways with many web sites and even a magazine that advertises special places where women can go to enjoy time-outs together. If you Google girlfriend getaways, you’ll come up with many options for group get-togethers. (ABC News touts the nearby Napa Valley as one of the 10 best.) There’s even a niche tee shirt business that concentrates on “she-shirts” for girlfriend getaways. And for those with money to burn on terrycloth-robe resorts, a site called http://www.girlaway.com lists the world’s best destination spas.

But you don’t have to spend money or set aside a week. Just go grab an old old friend and raise a glass to the past. Sometimes the past is a very pleasant place to visit, even if you don’t want to live there.

Mel Walsh is a gerontologist and certifiable geezer. Her book of advice for older women, Hot Granny, is available at The Book Seller in Grass Valley and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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