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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Save the Old Folks!

posted by on February 28 at 13:34 PM

Old people. God damn them, they are my kryptonite. My Achilles’ fricking heal. They make me so sad. They are just so cute and tiny and pathetic and breakable. I can laugh at JonBonnet jokes from sun-up to dusk—toss in a few dead puppies and a burning busload of paraplegic retarded kids and I’m yours forever. But old people! They break my weird little heart.

Please don’t ask me to explain it.

So I was walking somewhere on Capitol Hill, late, on one of those streets dotted with old mansions, and, from the doorway of one of said mansions, the littlest, frailest old woman that ever old womaned was trying to flag me down. Not me, specifically, but anybody. She was as big as a box kite, rather hysterical, and waving a dishrag. Jesus. I knew somebody must be dead in there.

And somebody was. A few people actually. But that was much earlier.

What had happened was she couldn’t turn her oven off. That was it.

I rushed up to see, oh, dear, what could the matter be, and she rushed me into her ginormous mansion, through her rather exquisitely appointed hallway, past the closed French doors of the drawing and television rooms, into her charming little kitchen, where she kept calling me “Kiddo”, and introduced me to the stove. It was an old-ish stove, one of the knobs had gone wonky, she could no longer figure out how to manage the off switch, the burner was red hot, and she was beside her little old self. “Oh, kiddo, I was so scared, I couldn’t go to bed, oh, kiddo, what if there was a fire, I was so so so scared, no one would stop, everybody just walked by, you were the only one, oh, kiddo!”

Frankly, she was damn lucky. The street was a fucking freakshow.

So I fiddled with her knob, if you’ll pardon the expression, and managed to cool her oven down. She cooled down also. The aneurysm was averted. I finally took a good look at her. She was all of 86 pounds, white as a Christmas pubic hair, and deafer than Academy Award Winner Marley Matlin. (Who is, like, professionally deaf.) I’ll go out on a limb and say that I don’t think her eyes worked none too good, neither. I screamed; she barely caught a word. I pointed; she squinted. She managed to tell me her name (Hazel or some shit, no kidding), and also that she lived totally alone, that “everyone” was just recently deceased. She was darling as a teacup. She was completely depressing.

I made sure she was relatively calm and that she understood the stove, and I wrote down my cell number, in case. I let myself out and locked her door behind me, and now I feel like a total turd.

This old woman cannot be left alone, let’s be frank. I don’t know how she’s survived this long. I’m going to force myself to go back there later to check on her…but…my hand to God, she is going to plotz. There must be some city agency or…well…something…to help this woman. I just have no clue what it is. I’m just some weirdo off the street.



RSS icon Comments


some people adopt a cat, Adrian you have an adopted old lady to take care of.

Posted by Andrew | February 28, 2008 1:49 PM

Little old ladies are one of my favorite things ever. You're sweet to them, and they adore you. They are generally a font of sweetness and compliments on how pretty you are, and I am a sucker for both.

In all seriousness, there are elder-care agencies, but it's hard to tell an older person that you think that they might need some help. There's almost no way around making it sound like a complete lack of faith in them, when all you're worried about is them falling, breaking a hip, and falling prey to their favorite cat.

Posted by Jessica | February 28, 2008 1:52 PM
Posted by COMTE | February 28, 2008 1:55 PM

"white as a Christmas pubic hair" -- I laughed.

Posted by Fnarf | February 28, 2008 1:58 PM

Look, all I'm saying is: shotgun.

Posted by Mr. Poe | February 28, 2008 2:02 PM

You're now the patron saint of saintly saints.

Posted by pbaitch | February 28, 2008 2:05 PM

oh Adrian.. I didn't think I could love you any more than I already do.

Posted by M | February 28, 2008 2:12 PM

Golden Girlz powers, Activate!

Posted by orangekrush | February 28, 2008 2:21 PM

You are a very nice young man.

Posted by flamingbanjo | February 28, 2008 2:23 PM

Most old people fear death far less than young people. Old people know the end is near and learn to accept it. It's like they are all Buddhists.

The idea of breaking a hip and dying of dehydration in your own house is far more freaky to a young person than an old person. Not that an old person wants to go out like that, but it's not something they obsess over. More often than not, they want to live out their life in their own house, and when the time comes to die, they are ready.

Posted by Mahtli69 | February 28, 2008 2:39 PM

I agree with #1 above; adopt her. It's good for you and for her.

Plus, if she really is that alone, -someone- needs to inherit that Capitol Hill mansion.

Just sayin'.

Posted by Cow | February 28, 2008 2:52 PM

Adrian, you are my new favoritest Slogger. What a cool thing you did!

And who knows--maybe there's something you're supposed to learn from her. I find that the most bizarre, unlikely associations are thrown at me by whoever runs the universe to teach me something.

Like--ok, me, a big ol' homo, being bestest buddies with a NUN?!? No. Way.

But yeah, I am. She's 82 now, retired and almost totally deaf, but we've been in each others' lives for twenty years now, and although we both started our relationship not really liking each other much (she was my boss at an AIDS organization--we've both since moved on to other jobs) but we both came around and I absolutely adore her and have learned much about compassion from her. I guess you could say I worship the water on which she walks ;-)

And I'm with #1 and #11. Give it a chance. Get to know her. Make her your new grandma. Check in, talk to her. I'd bet she's lonely.

Anyway, much of an asshole as I usually am here, I gotta say: Good job, Kiddo. You get a gold star and a smiley face.

Posted by Wolf | February 28, 2008 3:02 PM

Well, that's sweet of you, sonny. This "older," white-haired guy typically has enough weaponry concealed on him to hold off the Mongol hoardes, but you keep on enjoying your illusions if it makes you happy.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty in Waimea | February 28, 2008 3:04 PM

Make that "hordes." No worries, you young whippersnappers can't spell anyway.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty in Waimea | February 28, 2008 3:07 PM

Funny, when I was a kid, it seemed like members of my family were always helping out old folks. Relatives, friends, neighbors, strangers, it didn't matter.

I always assumed it was a given that one helped the elderly. It's an unspoken societal contract. Help the old people now, so when you're old some young kiddo will help you.

This is especially true for all the young childless urban dwellers. No kids = dependence on a stranger walking by to help you. Or even worse, the government.

Posted by Medina | February 28, 2008 3:18 PM

What does an 82-year-old vagina taste like?


Posted by six shooter | February 28, 2008 3:27 PM

I'm not sure 82-year-olds have vaginas. I think by then they've grown closed...but I might be wrong.

I don't care to find out.

Posted by Wolf | February 28, 2008 3:59 PM

That looks like the bad guy in Resident Evil 4.

Posted by heywhatsit | February 28, 2008 4:09 PM

Sorry to be a party pooper here but you have not done a good thing you have done a bad thing. Now that you have announced to all slog readers-- those with good intentions and those with evil in their hearts, that there is a vulnerable old lady living alone your have made here even more vulnerable. You are now obligated to fix this by seeing that she gets hooked up with some supportive services. Go befriend her and make some calls. google Adult Protective Services and use the link above for senior services. Fnarf -- why have you not chimed in with your usual voice of good sense?

Posted by lurker | February 28, 2008 4:24 PM

come over & try to love the old biddy who bitched me out last night when my (ON-leash) dog walked 5' down her driveway & wagged his tail at her.

Posted by max solomon | February 28, 2008 4:35 PM

@19: Don't be stupid. How many old people are there in the area?

The unconsinable approach is to do nothing. And this woman was trying to attract ANYONE'S attention.

It just happened to be a reporter that responded, and I say bravo to that. Thanks again, Adrian, for this post.

Posted by Wolf | February 28, 2008 4:48 PM

You're not just some weirdo off the street. You're a member of the same society that the woman lives in.

Posted by idaho | February 28, 2008 7:20 PM

I'm very proud of you Adrian. And I think you should go back and see how the old girl is doing (daylight hours, of course). She's probably lonely, and you could prattle on at her for hours, and both of you would be very satisfied with the arrangement.

My own dear Mother Vel-DuRay lives alone now, and we have several dear neighbors who regularly come to visit her, and take her garbage out when the driveway is slick.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | February 28, 2008 9:24 PM

Because I'm miles away from my remaining grandparents, thank you for doing this. Another resource is King County 211, which is part of the United Way. It's not specifically for seniors, but a great place to turn for this kind of advice.

Posted by squidoo | February 29, 2008 10:10 AM

Maybe a middle aged roommate would do wonders for her.

Posted by gryph | February 29, 2008 10:12 AM

do you think the house will go on the market soon? how many bedrooms and baths would you guess?

Posted by sparklepony | February 29, 2008 10:58 AM

Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!

Posted by chicagogreg | February 29, 2008 8:07 PM

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