Monday, November 11, 2013



by Linda Lange

I’ve been thinking about something my friend Pam said.  We were planning our annual trip back to our hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I e-mailed her to say the Packers autograph session we’d wanted to attend was sold out. Pam replied, “We could crash it and be on the front page of the Press-Gazette!  We are so old that people will say, ‘Aw, aren't they cute?'"

I know Pam was kidding.  And I don’t think we’re quite old enough to pull that off.  But her response got me thinking:  Are old ladies inherently cute?  
Old enough to be cute?

At sixty-six, I’m into what some people call The Second Adulthood or The Third Stage of Life, so maybe I should decide whether I want to be cute.  I’ve reinvented myself at numerous stages throughout my life.  Is “cute” my ultimate persona?
I admit that one of the cutest things I ever saw was a pair of elderly ladies in San Francisco, sometime around 1985.  They had to be twins and were probably past eighty.  Their carefully coiffed wigs and cats-eye glasses reminded me of my grandmother’s twenty years before. 

 The twins looked like miniatures of my grandmother.
They were tiny, barely more than four-and-a-half feet, and dressed exactly alike.  Their veritable sameness, their outdated look, and their diminutive size (ooh, the tiny feet!) made them undeniably … cute.  I wanted to take a photo, but thought it rude to ask.

Alternatively, I find the bumbling crones portrayed on so many greeting cards frightening, rather than cute. (“Isn’t it windy?” “No, it’s Thursday.” “Sure, let's have a drink.”) This portrayal demeans me, somehow.  I hope this isn’t my future.

No, no, I’m not ready to be cute.  When I think of iconic women around my age, I don’t find them cute.  Meryl Streep is not cute.  Cher is not cute.  Hillary Rodham Clinton is Definitely.  Not.  Cute.

But take Betty White.  At 91, she's pretty cute.  So maybe I'm just not old enough ... 

I’m not sure I was cute even when I was a kid.  My classmates were cute in their frilly party dresses.  My parents, for the most part, eschewed the frills and dressed me up in miniature, tailored suits with pleated skirts.  I hated those suits, but now it occurs to me that my folks might have been sending me a message.  Don’t try to be cute.  Try for … what?  Dignified?  Classy?  When I was six, my skinned knees tended to spoil the image, but now maybe I could pull it off.

Or I could take my cue from a woman I’ve met through volunteer work.  She so resembles a different greeting-card heroine, in both looks and personality, that I’m hard pressed to call her Doris rather than Maxine.  Salty … that’s a good word for her.  I have a black sense of humor and (unlike Doris) a bit of a potty mouth.  Maybe I can be salty.  It’s got to be easier than dignified.

Cute?  Dignified?  Salty?  None of the above?  Which personality would you choose for your Third Stage of Life?
Linda Lange has never forgotten what it was like to be a teenager living in Green Bay, WI, during the Sixties when Vince Lombardi coached the Packers.  She shared her memories in Incomplete Passes:  Reflections on Life, Love, and Football. The memoir, Linda’s first book, was a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
When Linda is not writing or watching football, she volunteers at Save the Animals Foundation, a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats.  She is currently working on a novel with a shelter setting.  Follow Linda's personal blog at


Caroline said...

Linda, fun post. Enjoyed it immensely. I love dignified older ladies who aren't afraid or ashamed to be who they are. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Love the theme you chose, Linda! The patchwork of women in my life motivate me to cheer for individuality and develop my own. It's never too late!!
Thanks for sharing today.

Gail Kittleson said...

Women are like patchwork or a garden…so colorful, so engaging-it takes a lifetime, sometimes, to appreciate OUR color!!

Appreciated your humor and down-to-earth images, Linda. Thanks!

Linda Lange said...

Thanks, Caroline! Have you mastered "dignified"? From your photo, I'd say so. Glad you enjoyed the post.