Driving home the other day I saw an older couple waiting to cross the street. Nothing alarming there, right? And yet the scene evoked the type of fear usually reserved for that gap of time between medical tests and medical test results. Why, you wonder, would such a benign sight make my palms sweat?
Because I don’t want to be like them—because they were dressed like identical twins.
Same bucket hats—the kind that work equally well for fishing as for safaris—same blue sweatshirt slung over white T-shirts, same Arrowhead water bottles, same cargo shorts, same no-show socks in white cross-trainers. If the Reebok Princess came in a male version (the Reebok Prince, perhaps?), they’d be set.
Right next to sleeping with the closet door open (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken has had lingering effects), my biggest fear is loss of autonomy.
That may sound like a flare shot up from a sinking marriage—which I assure you is not the case—but I’ve noticed the longer two people have been together, the more of themselves they seem to lose. They blend into one, like lines on Bert’s sidewalk drawings in a monsoon. “We like the Sizzler,” they announce, or, “We don’t care for reality TV.” We? I think. Did you two vote? Discuss your options before filling up on all-you-can-eat 3-bean salad and declaring half the night’s television programming off limits?
My husband sees no point in perusing Barnes and Noble once you’ve found a book because his theory is, how many can you read at once anyway? (More than one, but that’s my personal preference.) And I’m happy he loves woodworking, though I prefer just to go buy the piece of furniture and be done with it.
It’s these separate interests that keep us unique and individual after many years of marriage. Plus, it gives us something to talk about over dinner, which never includes 3-bean salad because my husband hates beans. Note we don’t hate beans—just him. And that’s fine by me.
I like older folks—really, I do. But there’s something so tired about parroting your spouse. It’s like individuality just isn’t worth the effort any more. And that scares me more than the idea of aging. That, and picturing my husband in a pair of Reebok Princes.