Before you meet Annie, I have to set the stage. No better way than to give you a gift from long ago.
Let's look at some rules of etiquette from "The Treasury Of Useful And Entertaining Knowledge," compiled by Nugent Robinson in 1882, given here as they were written. If we're not careful, (and, if we're lucky) everything love might become old again.
1. Visits should be short. Beware of letting your call exceed half an hour’s length. It’s always better to let your friends regret rather than desire your withdrawal.
2. In the morning, limit your jewelry to a brooch, gold chain, and watch. Your diamonds and pearls are as much out of place in the morning as a wreath.
3. Dressing well is a duty every lady owes to society, but make it not your idol. Fashion is made for woman, not woman for fashion.
4. When entertaining, try to suit your music to your company. A Beethoven solo is as much out of place in some circles as a comic song at a Quaker’s meeting.
5. Upon entering the carriage, if you are going to take the seat facing the horses, go in such a way as to drop into it at once.
1. If you are on horseback and wish to converse with a lady who is on foot, dismount and lead your horse, so as not to cause her fatigue in looking up to your level.
2. A man should always be so well dressed that his clothes shall never be observed at all. Perfect simplicity is perfect elegance. Let a wise man seek to be appreciated for something of higher worth than the studs on his shirt or the trinkets on his chain.
3. When eating or drinking, avoid every kind of audible testimony to the fact.
4. Use your handkerchief noiselessly; do not blow your nose as if it were a trombone.
5. If a man be a bachelor giving a dinner, he had better do so at a good hotel.
This brings us to Annie, a centenarian pearl who arrived on earth in an era when women knew when to leave and men knew when (and where) to stay.
In her lifetime, Annie has traveled the world. She’s made her bones as a dancer, sculptor, photographer and poet. She continues to write poetry, and gives readings to her fellow artificial hipsters in the nursing home where she still tends to most of her own needs.
She climbs aboard her electric cart and zips around the complex, running in the fast lane past the walkers and quad canes. There has been talk about either revoking her buggy license or installing speed bumps in the hallways.
Though she accepts it, she thinks it silly that her children never visit her. “They’re in their eighties, you know, and don’t get around like they used to,” she says, her bright eyes shining. " Upon her reaching the century mark, I asked her how she’d done it. She must have learned something special, and practiced some secret formula for living that had carried her so far. What had she done, or not done, to have lived so long?
She just looked at me, astonished that anyone would ask such a thing.
“Don’t die, you damn fool,” she said, winking.
We both laughed, and she went on to explain:
“No, I mean use all the tools you have, play all the instruments in your orchestra, switch to other gears, do whatever you have to do to keep going. When the world goes mute, stick in a hearing aid and turn up the music. When you can’t smell, look at the colors and shapes of things. When you can’t taste, pour on the sugar. When you can’t see, get a looking glass. When you can’t play the notes --- sing ‘em!”
“Sounds too simple,” I said.
“It is. Don’t be a melon head. When your body goes, use your mind. When your mind goes, use your soul. When your soul goes, get on with the next life. Just keep living.”
She added one more thing: “And, don’t waste time. When you can’t walk --- RIDE!” and sped off into her next hundred years, facing the horses, narrowly missing my toes and leaving me on the horseback of humility.
Annie has an embroidered sign above her bed. It reads: THE OLDER THE VIOLIN, THE SWEETER THE MUSIC.
So, if there is a five-score Romeo out there looking for a tuneful, high-riding Juliet, have I got a date for you. Be dapper yet sublime, dress casual, call the Hilton, cue-up the mood music --- and get down off your horse, you damn fool.
* * * * *Senior Wire News Service Syndicated Humor Columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH. He is an author, humorist, agony uncle columnist and poet. His latest book is “THE DIOECIANS – His and Her Love“. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.