Tomorrow is my grandson Panky’s twelfth birthday. That seems outlandish to me, but there we are. Tempis, as my grandmother Edith said through clenched teeth to dawdling children, is fugiting.
It dawned on me recently that I am approximately the same age Edith was when her husband died. She stopped traveling, stopped going to big events, shows and parties. I was 15 and couldn’t understand it. I understand it even less now. Why didn’t she wait a decent interval and go full Hello, Dolly? Surely there was a Horace Vandergelder out there waiting for fabulous her, and I’m sorry she didn’t look for him.
Panky’s a bright kid, and he doesn’t think about me much unless he’s actively trying to circumvent my house rules. I think about him a lot, in part because he might be a little too bright. A friend is plugged into the Jeopardy! hive mind, so I asked him what those folks recommended as gifts for smart kids. They came up with a few ideas, like Raspberry Pi. He’ll learn about computers by building one, and this is good because he talks ad nauseum about how his generation is all about technology. Yes, I told him I was a teen all about technology when blowdryers were brand new, but he did not seem impressed. That’s because he didn’t grow up in his grandmother’s beauty salon in the seventies, where matronly ladies sat under furniture-size hair dryers, thumbing through celebrity gossip magazines, for whole Saturday afternoons. Stylists smoked Virginia Slims and emptied cans of hairspray into mile-high coifs. It’s a miracle salons didn’t explode six days a week. Obviously, I’m anxious for Panky to outsmart our dumb history.
Twelve. Being twelve is awful. It’s one of those years of your life you’d rather forget. How do you make it better for someone else?