There have been a few outcries over the lack of new blog posts over the past few weeks, and all I can say is that I am sorry. Sometimes it's hard for inspiration to strike when I feel like I have 25 emotionally abusive boyfriends on the active roster of the New York Metropolitans. However, the requests for more posts warmed my heart, and made me feel missed in my absence, so I aggressively started searching for more inspiration to bring me back to the computer keyboard. And today, dear readers, I have found it. I found it in a place I wasn't expecting, from a person I don't think of often, at a time when I was sitting at work and really probably should have been doing something to at least pretend like I was earning my paycheck. Who inspired me, do you ask? Cloris Leachman. Yes, that's right, Mary Richard's old landlady pulled me from the depths of writer's block with this little gem on the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget.
First of all, allow me to say that I do not generally take in Comedy Central's roasts of various celebrities. It seems that the only more obvious way to announce that your career is over is to star in a VH1 reality show (I'm hoping the exception to the this rule is Margaret Cho). Also, generally speaking, I don't find them particularly funny...it seems like a bunch of comedians getting together to tell their most vulgar jokes and try to twist them around to make them about a specific person. However, Ms. Leachman has really broken the mold here. For one thing, her opener about John Stamos was clearly not a joke written for another purpose and reworked for the broadcast. With all the artistry of an old pro, Cloris really made me believe that she was going to to introduce dear old Johnny boy to the business end of her Oscar. Also, beseeching someone to clock her in the face so she could see some stars was sheer poetry in its brilliance, particularly coming right before of a close-up shot of Lori Loughlin (returning to TV this fall in 90210 Redux!), Dave Coulier (really Alannis? "You Oughta Know" was about this guy?) and a group of comedians that I would have difficulty naming.
Now, you're probably thinking to yourself, while this is funny (naturally), where exactly are we going here? Well, dear readers, we're going to discuss aging gracefully. Ms. Leachman is currently 82 years old, and has clearly aged like a fine wheel of parmesan, becoming sharper and more flavorful with each passing year. When I try to picture my 80ish relatives cracking wise about using an old award for a sex toy, an error message pops up and my brain crashes like a computer caught in a porn cycle. Since I'm approaching 30 (which is only slightly off of 82 in gay years) I find myself looking more and more to our older compatriots to see how they deal with getting long in the tooth.
This is obviously not something that is much of a concern for the Chinese women's (girl's?) gymnastics team. Half the world is crying that their athletes are not of legal age to compete in this year's Olympics, and admittedly they look to have an average age of about 12. Of course, all people accusing the Chinese of fudging birthdates are trying to make it sound as if they are protecting the rights of the athletes, when actually it's probably just sour grapes at the possibility of literally losing to a 10 year old girl.
However, far more relevant to this post is the story of one Oksana Chusovitina, the silver medalist in women's vault. This is by far my favorite story of the Olympic Games, and for those of you who missed it, get this. Chusovitina is 33 years old, and just competed in her 5th Olympics in gymnastics, a record for female gymnasts. She competed in her first Olympics in 1991, or a full year before Shawn Johnson was born. Pretty cool, but wait it gets better! She has young son, Alisher, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, and when she brought him for treatment in Moscow there was no guarantee of care due to staffing shortages and a need for upfront payment. So she got a German Citizenship, and began competing for the German National Team in order to finance her son's operations with the prize money she received. And his leukemia is now in remission and he is training to become a gymnast. Needless to say, when this story was related to me while I lay in bed, shot up on Nyquil and completely exhausted, it caused me to have the same basic emotional reaction that Bambi did when I was 7, and cried myself to sleep wishing that my mother was around.
On the surface, there isn't much connecting these two stories. However, both are considered past their prime in their professions (even though one has about 50 years on the other), and yet both are still at the top of their fields. I think of Leachman like a delicious Sauvignon Blanc, crispy, refreshing and surprising in ways you never expect. Chusovitina is like a sturdy Shiraz, bracing and strong, a never-let-you-down workhorse. I hope to age like these women; after all, if I'm still in good shape and single when I'm 35, my attraction to 45 year old silver foxes will be much less creepy and much more pursuable. So here's to them...and here's to me having the opportunity to someday say on national television that my only purpose for being somewhere is to f*ck David Wright.