Marie-Andrée, Age 70
Ellen you were my advisor at Goddard in 1985…If Picasso had a Rose Period I have my Ellen Period…life was never the same… Here is my story when Mr. Robertson asked me about my retirement…since I am now 70.
For years Mr.Robertson has been my accountant. Today, more intensely than in previous times, his eyes, beady as a gull eyeing a bag full of garbage, scrutinize the scene. Freckled receipts hastily broached together, flocks of post-it cover clippings, paper scrolls of various bookkeepings, stubs, sales slips cover my eight seat dining room table. It is ‘that’ time of the year, income tax time. Mr. Roberston perceives me as an oddity since he discovered that, for me, the term ‘yield’ was directly connected to driving and didn’t mean internal rate of return. He also labels me wicked because I insist on including my traffic fines in my car expenses.
“Have you given any serious considerations to your retirement?”
Mr. Roberston’s words boomerang inside my skull. I feel a ghost of indigestion. Inhale, count to four, hold your breath for four, exhale, count to four. Melanie, my yoga instructor takes over. Zen time, escape to a peaceful and pleasant surrounding. How to express myself to this kind man whose terminology is so foreign to me, a man whose vision of my retirement (an euphemism for old age) is to guarantee me a room with a Plasma TV at the Mount Ever Rest Resort, a golden walker and Mantovani music in the elevator? How could I tell him that retirement is synonymous of ‘pat the due date,’ that I will die but will not retire?
I aim to be one of those astonishingly dressed older women. Young aspiring Quebec designers will call me their Muse. My clothes, inspired by Mohawk and Innu ethnology will be part of the Fashion Collection at the McCord Museum. I intend to hold on and to nourish my sophisticated style. Nowadays, I proudly display a streak of magenta hair. It is easier to be spotted at a cocktail. After all, I am quite a realistic woman, at one meter sixty centimetres, I am no challenge for the Eiffel Tower. Moreover, soon I will be obliged to surrender my stiletto heels. It becomes harder and harder to keep my equilibrium after my third dry Martini.
I will share my downtown penthouse with my Royal Poodle, Remy, for Remy Martin of course. My neighbours, proud owners of Chihuahua and siamese cats will sign petitions to have him removed. My daughter will report me to the local private clinic and send the Cholesterol brigade to confiscate my supplies of almond croissants and pots of Nutella.
I already see talk show hosts fighting to get me on the air. Everyone will want to learn about the Stages of Life viewed through my one of a kind philosophical and existential lenses. I will be their darling guest throwing, here and there, a word in French, another in Dutch, and for exoticism, one of the only fifty Shwahili words I still remember. My quotes will be recited at parties. “Happy feet are essential to the whole well-being.” I will rattle esoteric facts about famous historical figures. “Stalin wore red underwear during the October 1917 revolution.”
My watercolour paint by numbers will hand at the Musée d’Art Moderne. Finally, I will master Martha Stewart’s Art of living. Walls will be decorated with mosaic cit pits of various expired credit cards.
“Maaadam?” Mr. Roberston looks at me as if I am a strange bug discovered in a bathtub.