We share from our souls with our sisters and mothers, and evidently that’s very good for our health
I must admit I doll up for intimate lunches with girl friends. After all, the first part of the program is usually a gushing exchange of compliments, and, while I may need some self-assurance in this department, I’d like to deserve at least some of it.
In fact, we’ve set a sort of unspoken standard: Nobody is allowed to look dowdy, lest we drag each other down the slippery road to frumpy, a road tempting to take, indeed, since at our age we naturally want to feel comfortable, which is the opposite of chic—a simple, loose frock will do.
While neither mahjong nor the attire can take away from good bonding, I’m not one for either, although I’ve had a taste of the experience—as a substitute, an extra hand. Much as I liked the company, my back would not tolerate the hours of sitting; a session normally takes from 2 to 10 p.m., and neither would my family. And, with all the smoking, neither would my eyes, sinuses and lungs. In the end, I was a mere drop-in, a non-playing participant.
But I like lunching with friends, who include the mahjongeras, and do it with some regularity. Not really a groupie, I’m quite comfortable on the fringes of get-togethers; it also allows me to come and go as I please. But when I do decide to take part, be it a group or a one-on-one lunch, I don’t schedule anything for the rest of the day.
Mutual lifting of morale
These lunches can last hours, but they’re well worth every minute of it—the mutual lifting of morale, the sharing of intimacies, the laughter, the fun. All the things we need at this point in our lives. They’re therapeutic, although, again, not without their dangers. For instance, a dieter is positively put in an occasion of sin—desserts.
The ideal venue used to be someone’s house. Now circumstances have forced a change. The good old reliable help has aged herself and grown slow and impatient, and hates the idea of entertaining at home.
Anyway, nothing beats a nice, quiet restaurant, the more exclusive the better, surely affordable on Dutch terms or by equal division of damage, not to mention with senior citizen discounts. Seniors seem to me among the preferred customers. Having the time and more or less the means, and, running on reserve, they like to hold as many get-togethers as they can manage.
All this makes up for the additional service seniors require. Now a few of us walk with canes, which, along with handbags, require extra seats for themselves.
In cases, which are increasing, where yayas or caregivers are necessary company, an extra table is needed altogether. And as we have seen with the generation before us, they may have to be inserted at the main table if their wards are such who would require prompt if not constant attention. But they are expected to know the limits of their place; for one thing, no expensive juices.
Once an older relative visiting from the United States and her caregiver came, both unaware of the code. As her own principal had done, the caregiver ordered a mango shake for herself.
“Hindi-i-i!” chorused the nice little old ladies suddenly turned harpies, knowing that the lunch was on everyone’s equal account, a condition preferred to justify sharing orders—although definitely not with yayas. Forthwith, a self-appointed spokesperson made the correction.
“Lahat sila,” she said, referring to all the yayas, “tubig!”
I myself wonder what crude inflexibilities we would have developed at such an advanced state of seniority. We really should watch out for each other so that we don’t use age as an excuse for everything.
Indeed, it’s one of the more important things girl friends are really for, I think. Another is health, mental and physical, about which, as it happens, a girl friend has forwarded to me the following useful anonymous share:
In an evening class at Stanford University, a lecturer on the relationship between stress and disease said that one of the best things a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, but that for a woman it is to nurture her relationships with her girl friends.
Everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women, he said, connect with one another differently, providing support systems that help one another to deal with stress and difficult life experiences.
This quality “girl friend time,” he said, helps create more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and create a general feeling of wellbeing.
Women share feelings, whereas men, he said, often form relationships around activities. We share from our souls with our sisters and mothers, and evidently that’s very good for our health.
He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out in a gym. There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time.
In fact, failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans, he said, is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking. So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health!