Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Growing old:

I played bridge with 11 other women the other day. I will be 64 in December and one of the women is a contemporary. The others are old enough to be my mother.

A couple of them are excellent bridge players and some defy description. They have such a shared history and a shared love of the game and each other that they table talk in ways that would make most even mildly serious bridge players cringe. You don’t have to have ever played bridge to relate to what follows.

Those who are older have many new hips and knees amongst them. There are three breast cancer survivors, one who had polio early in life and the aftershocks are quite visible, several have pacemakers, two use walkers and others hobble along with their canes. Several wear hearing aids and I wish that more of them would acknowledge that they need them. I am taking  mental notes as I watch these women who have all grown up and grown old together. They shout with love at the one who forgot her hearing aid.

They ask about the various physical therapists they have seen and how ‘good’ or helpful they are. They pass on rumors about not eating broccoli if you have a heart problem and someone else says, “That’s just a crock. You should be talking to your doctor and not listening to us.” They laugh at each other and with each other and they are all long lived.

So one thing that no one tells anyone else about growing older is that your sense of smell diminishes. I read AARP and I have not read about this problem. I have however personally experienced it. I hated it when magazines advertised perfumes and when I unwrapped the latest copy some scent assailed me. I would sneeze a lot. I would find the offending pages and tear them out.

I am here to tell you that older people lose their sense of smell. These wonderful and very courageous women have liberally doused themselves with so much and so many perfumes that I had to go to the ladies room to finish sneezing. I ran into my contemporary who was apparently having the same reaction. Both of us find much to admire in our fellow bridge players and the two of us could not imagine a way to let them know that the overpowering use of perfume had chased us away for a moment.

The last time this happened to me was when my sons were teenagers and out to impress the girls. I had read that teenage boys did not have sensitive noses and that at that age they thought that more was better. I sent one of them back upstairs to shower and start over. I told him that if his goal was to attract a girl he had missed by a mile. I told him that he had so much after shave on (through my sneezes) that he was having the exact opposite effect of what he intended. This was an easy conversation with my son and I hope he learned.

I can’t imagine saying the same sort of thing to the bridge playing women, so I am sharing it with you. Lots of things “go out” as we age. A sense of smell has to be one of the under-reported ones. So please just squirt once and be done with the perfume or aftershave. And thanks for reading.