She was an old woman. She sat still and peaceful on the park bench sipping her small coffee slowly without a care. She just sat with out a thought or a concern; she was so interesting, just sitting alone in herself. She was an old woman thinking about whatever crosses the minds of old women.
I walked up to the park bench and sat down next to her. I didn’t look at her but I could tell she was looking at me. I wondered what she was thinking of me as I sat with big hair and too many tattoos. I realized that my tattoo sleeve was the arm facing her.
“There was a time…” She said softly, in an almost whisper. I turned slowly to look at her, confused a bit by her statement.
“I’m sorry?” The old woman turned to look at me with her soft blue eyes that matched the sky after a storm. She smiled at me and slowly lifted her cup of coffee up to her mouth stained with red lip stick. When she pulled the cup down a thicker line of red in the shape of her lips appeared around the rim.
“There was a time, my dear, when beauty and youth were on my side. I was young and fertile just like you.” I was interested and I felt a little guilty that I had reminded her of better times lost. How sad, to be old like her knowing that all of life’s best years are in the past. I kept looking at her as her coffee cup begged for more lip stick. The smile of an old woman was still on her face, brighter as if with a secret that she’s been dying to tell.
“What was it like?” I asked her calm, desperately wanting to know this secret. She leisurely turned her head back in my direction and patted my hand.
“It was a time when woman only wore dresses and high heels. It was a time of black and white, of taxis and Marilyn Monroe. I was a dish back in those days. You couldn’t tell now but I had rich blonde hair and a summer’s tan. I was dreaming of becoming an actress. I was dreaming of Frank Sinatra and Danny Kay as I studied hard in acting classes.” I smiled at her because I could imagine the view. Such a lovely time full of hopes and dreams.
“Sounds wonderful,” I admitted. She turned back towards her cup of coffee but kept that smile on her face. She was still beautiful even with wrinkles and stained make-up. She was still in a dress and high heels but I imagine the ones she wore back in her day were much different.
“It was a glamor life, truly filled with the lies of Hollywood. I worked for a long time in a small diner outside of the RKO Pantages Theater. That stage was just a baby in those days but it was a hot ticket to making the big time.”
“Did you make it?” I asked, extremely intrigued by her storytelling. She winked at me and for a moment I saw a glimmer of the younger girl inside of her.
“I made the chorus line when I was twenty two. I had a one liner solo singing part in that first show. It took a little bit of time but I moved up. I started receiving minor rolls and minor major rolls. Then I received a call from some big shot out in New York,” Said the old woman. She paused for a sip of her coffee; I was surprised she had anything left. But I guess when you drink slowly you take small sips.
“He says that he saw my acting in Hollywood and that I was doing really good, too good to stay in Hollywood I smiled at her but a little bit shocked at what I was hearing. because Broadway is where it’s at.”
“You went out to New York?” I asked her trying to keep calm in my voice.
“I flew out to New York and starred in my first Broadway show: Oklahoma! Those were some good times back then. I made my Mama proud and made my father shut up. He always used to tell me that I should settle for a practice job if I was so insistent upon getting a job. He wanted me to get married and be a housewife, a secretary part time before children. But that just wasn’t a big enough adventure for me. My Mama always told me that life doesn’t take me places I take life places.”
“That’s an excellent lesson. She must have been a great woman.”
“She was a remarkable woman; she was behind me one hundred and ten percent. She told me that I had to follow my dreams no matter what happened. You see, she had dreams of her own but she never did any of them and she thought that was really important. I remember her telling me that she didn’t want me to be a depressed old woman and regret my empty past. She wanted me to sit on a park bench at eighty five and be glad to be old because my life was full.” At that moment I realized I shouldn’t feel guilty for causing her to think of a younger time. I shouldn’t dread being an old woman. I smiled at her and patted her hand.
“Thank you, you’re words are encouraging.” I said to her as I got up and walked away. I shoved my hands in my pockets and smiled. She was an old woman and some day I’m going to be an old woman too.