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MARTHA SEZ: Change is hard for old folks like me and Trump

March 9, 2017
By MARTHA ALLEN - Columnist , Lake Placid News

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Once someone is a certain age - let's say around 70 - that person is unlikely to pivot. Don't go expecting a sudden change in behavior.

In fact, a sudden change in behavior is often seen as a bad sign in an elderly person. The words "unstable" and "erratic" come to mind. Worse words, even scarier, come to mind as well, but never mind that. The point is, when a senior citizen starts acting up and making big changes - other than, say, moving to Florida or dyeing her hair blue - people are unlikely to expect a good outcome.

Still, a person can't just give up on self-improvement. Right? It is possible, though perhaps not common, to make sweeping changes for the better, even to achieve greatness late in life. Look at Charles Darwin, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Susan Boyle. Not to mention Grandma Moses and Colonel Sanders.

And, of course, let us not forget our president, Donald J. Trump, who was elected to the highest office in the land at age 70 without ever having served in any previous government office, and without even running for public office before his presidential campaign.

Despite his astonishing late-in-life achievement, however, we should not be expecting a pivot from this man, as I have been saying right along. I can't see why many in the news media show surprise every time a much-heralded, so-called pivot fails to materialize.

Some people like Betty White, Gabby Hayes and Andy Rooney, notwithstanding their many accomplishments over the span of their lives, apparently became famous mostly for being stereotyped as old-timers.

George "Gabby" Hayes, often cast as an old grizzle-bearded codger in Hollywood westerns when he was in his 60s, didn't learn to ride a horse until he was over 40.

Andy Rooney is known and loved as a white-haired curmudgeon with astoundingly wild Irish eyebrows - although we think he must have been young once - and yes, in fact, he began his newspaper career writing for The Stars and Stripes as an American soldier in London during World War II.

While he did deliver many authentic curmudgeonly opinions during his broadcasts on the CBS news program "Sixty Minutes," Andy Rooney - like Pope Francis, Bill Gates, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain and the Dalai Lama - has gained considerable fame and notoriety from quotes falsely attributed to him on the internet.

Whenever you have something grumpy and curmudgeonly to say, why not follow the lead of countless trolls and simply post your message under the name Andy Rooney? It won't hurt to add his highly recognizable photograph as well. That way you'll get more credence and more shares, while reaping the added benefit of not being held accountable for your own cranky, cantankerous sentiments. Just make sure that whatever you're complaining about predates Rooney's death in 2011.

Fake internet news quotes are known as troll memes. One of my favorites is the admonishment, "Don't believe everything you see on the internet." - Abraham Lincoln.

White is beloved for making balmy remarks, remarks that are supposedly grannyish, but probably not like any your grandmother or mine would have made. In real life, she has had a long, distinguished career - the longest acting career of any woman in show business.

White is no dumbo, but I don't really mind her balmy old lady schtick. I have been absent-minded all my life, and I find that people are much more patient with me now that I have attained an age at which forgetfulness is considered appropriate.

I must admit, though, that the ability to hold a thought (Now why did I come upstairs?) or dredge up a name from memory is harder than it used to be, very much like being under the influence of marijuana, as I recall, but without the rest of the high.

Meanwhile, there are improvements I want to make. There is no sense in just deciding a person can't change.

Some changes are not so good, like accidentally seeing my reflection. I do know how to approach a camera or mirror by stealth, but I can't just have it sprung on me. Mercy.

Also, I find myself wondering, why am I talking like Donald Trump?

Even to myself. Even to the cats. It's true. I will tell you. It's true. Sad.

At least I'm not muttering, "Consarn it," or, "Yer durn tootin'" like Gabby Hayes, no matter what some of these young whippersnappers think.

Not yet.

Have a good week.



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