Sex and the 66-Year-Old Girl
Illustration: Istvan Banyai
She had her knitting, her napping, her grandkids. She thought she'd outlived the distractions of lust. But then Abigail Thomas (a.k.a. Nana) discovered that some urges never get old.Live each day as if it were your last, Nana has heard them say, but she says rubbish. Live each day any way you want. Take a nap if you feel like it.
Nana is sitting in her big chair knitting, as her grandmother did before her. What are you thinking, Nana? Nana is wondering whether if you murdered someone with a cast-iron frying pan and then made home fries in it, would all the evidence burn off? Nana wants to write a mystery. The only person she ever wanted to kill she imagined bashing over the head with her frying pan, so it is her heroine's weapon of choice. Perhaps "heroine" is the wrong word.
Nana is making a long blue scarf. She has made many scarves this winter but given none away as yet. She has also made many blankets. She just knits; she doesn't even purl anymore. She likes to knit round and round in circles. She piles all her finished projects in a big box by the front door.
Nana thinks about time differently since she got to be 66. She thinks of each moment as a big La-Z-Boy, or perhaps a hammock, and the only direction is a little back and forth, or side to side. For this Nana needs peace and quiet, and she eschews all outside stimulation. She plays music only when she is driving. Sometimes a wild random thought runs from the back of her mind to the front, and Nana can quick write it down because she almost always has a pen handy.
Nana loves her 12 grandchildren, but they function (as do their parents) on linear time. When they visit, Nana mobilizes. She bakes her cookies: gingersnaps, chocolate chips, cornmeal sugar cookies, and shortbread. She bakes big, chewy chocolate cookies. She gives everyone two at a time. Why not? You only live once, Nana knows. She notices that with small children everything is a beeline to the next thing. No time for lolling about, which is what she does best. She calls herself a writer, but she is stone lazy. Face it, Nana.
Nana appreciates that the advantage of getting old is not wanting to mess around anymore. In order not to want what she doesn't really want, she is careful about the movies she watches, and she plays music only in her car. (I believe we've covered that, but Nana thinks it is key.) When she watches a movie, Nana doesn't want to cry or be moved or enlightened, and she doesn't want to be turned on. There are movies she cannot watch, or cannot watch more than once. She saw the one about Woodstock, and it took her almost two years to get over Viggo Mortensen. She bought the DVD because she loved it so much, but she never opened it. It has sat on her shelf for four years. Nana likes movies with good guys and bad guys and a lot of big guns. She does not want anything stirred up that she can't handle by herself.