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I don’t know exactly when it began, but I realize now that I’ve become an old woman. Not old in the sense of age, I still have many more years left in me. But old in the sense of habits. When I was in my twenties and thirties,  fully aware of the warning signs , I swore I would not succumb when I got older.

I succumbed.

What do I mean by old lady habits? For one, I carry a sweater or pashmina on occasion, in case it’s chilly. I don’t mean chilly outside, I mean chilly inside, like the air is more conditioned than I need. Or maybe I’m the unlucky one sitting under the vent. Whatever the reason, I’m cold, and I don’t like it.

Two, my knees, ankles, and feet snap, crackle, pop more than a large bowl of Rice Krispies. Forget any plan to sneak around the house. No midnight snacks for me. My bones and joints announce my presence like an updated version of Ed McMahon. “Heeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrre’s Monica!” However, no one applauds my arrival like they did for Johnny Carson.

(See I am getting old. I reference people who were on television twenty years ago.)

Three, my friends and I talk about our recent cardiologist, gastroenterologist, dermatologist, and endocrinologist visits instead of our recent pediatrician visits.

Image of large purse

Image courtesy of David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons

Four, I carry a big purse like my mother did. I ask myself on a regular basis why I need so much “stuff”, as George Carlin would say. (Here I go again, quoting people who are dead. Children, George Carlin was Mr. Conductor on Thomas the Tank Engine after Ringo Starr. Who is Ringo Starr? I’d ask you to pass the Scotch if only it didn’t interact with my blood pressure medication*.)

Anyway, back to asking why I need all my stuff. The answer is my big purse serves as security. Not physical security, although I wouldn’t hesitate to wallop a would-be robber with it. It’s for emotional security born out of the just-in-case syndrome. My purse is my emergency preparedness kit. Just in case I get a headache or upset stomach, I have over-the-counter meds with me. I cut myself? A band-aid. And if my fingernail breaks into a sharp or jagged edge, I’m covered because I carry an emery board. Need something to write with? Got that too, in black or blue.

My mother carried a face powder compact. I carry a cell phone not much bigger. She carried a tube of lipstick. Me too. She had a wallet. Check. A key ring. Check–only mine not only holds keys, but it also holds store rewards program tags.

My mother used to carry an envelope of “spare” cash in addition to her wallet. I’m not sure its exact purpose. Was it a budgeting device? Perhaps. When she caught herself reaching into the envelope, maybe she’d reconsider her purchase. Or was the envelope a safety measure?  For instance, if a thief ran off with her wallet, she’d still have cash for groceries.

I don’t need an envelope for spare money. I carry credit cards. In a special credit card holder, which contains several other forms of plastic, such as an ATM card and more store rewards program IDs.

Mom had coupons; I have coupons. But I have business cards, as well. And cards containing my book cover and blurb in case someone asks me what I write. And Splenda tablets in case my Starbucks coffee turns out to be stronger than usual and my customary number of packets isn’t sufficient. I won’t realize this until I’m halfway to my next errand, and I’m not turning back.

Oh, and I eat a lot of fiber, I hate rap music, and I sometimes go to bed early.

So there you have it. Old lady habits. If you catch me driving 30 in a 50-mph zone, take away my car keys.

But leave my rewards tags, please.

*I am not really on blood pressure medication. It was a joke, kids.