I see them everywhere in the county where Small Child attends school: The Tennis Ladies.
Toned, tanned, tended, and tenacious, they meet for coffee and lunch and conversation. Somehow, even after vigorous exercise, they always look put-together, earrings dangling and makeup intact. Yes. They play tennis in makeup. And lipstick. It's different here.
I've always been an outlier where this kind of girl is concerned, "in the corner" as Suzanne Vega once put it. And "in the corner" was where I was Monday, at La Madeleine to be exact, in my version of exercise wear (black yoga pants, shapeless PTA t-shirt, sans earrings and makeup), shielded by my laptop as a trio of tennilicious ladies lunched at the table next. Definitely the kind of folks for whom "economic downturn" means "Lesser Lexus."
After a quick scan (two late20somethings, one working the ponytail-through-cute-ball-cap look and another with the best blond highlights I've seen in ages, and an oldersomething close to my age with the best matte red lipstick I've seen in ages) and a quick listen (kids, blah blah, car, blah, blah, kids), I returned to the chicken Caesar salad that has been my comfort food lo these many years. Move along, Blue. Nothing to see here.
Then suddenly, this:
"You've got be be FUCKING JOKING."
Up popped my head.
And there, calmly smiling with those beautiful matte red lips, was my mid-life sister.
PONYTAIL: Oh, no. No. Why?
MATTE RED: Because McCain and Palin scare the shit out of me.
HIGHLIGHTS: Oh, come on.
PONYTAIL: No, really, why?
MATTE RED: Well, for one thing, they want to overturn Roe v Wade
PONYTAIL, SCOFFING: You know THAT will never happen. They're [the dems] just trying to scare you.
MATTE RED, REMEMBERING ALL TOO WELL: No, they do.
At this point, Ponytail and Highlights unleashed a stream of anti-Obama vitriol the likes of which I have never heard apart from AM talk radio. Vicious. Untrue. Unadulterated Hate.
Matte Red never lost her cool. She continued, pointing out that Sarah Palin is, essentially, stupid. That her presence on the ticket is pandering and insulting. It was clear that Obama would not necessarily have been her first choice. But she has been around the block. The others have not.
Matte Red glanced at me. I mentioned that perhaps the younger women didn't understand that the freedoms they take for granted have not always been universally enjoyed (okay, I may not have been that slick). I agreed that an Obama victory was critical, if only to shift the court. Matte Red shook her head in agreement. Ponytail launched again.
Their party was breaking up, and their spirited debate continued as they made their way out.
As they reached the door, Matte turned back, gave me the thumbs up, and said, "See you at the victory party." The other two were not amused.
In an instant, I passed through some kind of time warp, some kind of bizarro reversal. At that one point in that most red county in this most red state, the Generation Gap flipped.
And I thought to myself, "Never trust anyone under 30. At least not anyone in a tennis skirt."
Afterword: I know. I said I wasn't going to write about politics anymore. So sue me.