The ladies of the circuit – Mary



Recently I went to the gym on a Saturday. (I know! Even I couldn’t believe it but I missed a day during the week and felt….compelled – that’s the nice word for guilt.)

It’s a different crowd except for Mary. Occasionally I will see her in passing during the week.

On this day we spent a half hour on equipment together so I learned a lot about her.

You know how you make that snap judgement about people that’s rarely right? Yes, you may think you’re right most of the time but you aren’t. I was so way off with Mary.

First I thought she is 60-something. She is spry, articulate and attractive. She’s not wrinkly in the face and her hair is honey brown with no big grey roots.

She was 80. A very proud 80. A very virile 80.

I thought she was one of those grandmotherly persons who had spent a good part of her life nurturing children. Someone who only worked a flexible job when money was needed but devoted herself to her family. Baking cookies. Scrubbing toilets.

I couldn’t be farther from the truth. She had held down a high-ranking job at a large corporation. She did considerable traveling and had an apartment in another city in addition to her modest dwelling with her husband. She was a true business woman at a time when they were rare.

I thought the gym was her only exercise.

Wrong! She and her husband built a home on a mountainside in a wooded area. They have a wood fireplace so they “gather” their wood for the winter. She has a vegetable garden in the summer.

She is an incredibly interesting person when you get her to talk about her life. All this time I thought she was a cookie-baking, couch potato. (Not that there is anything wrong with couch potatoes! Definitely nothing wrong with cookie bakers!)

Yet another lesson on instant judgements.

Oh yes — 80 is the new 60!

Have you met someone who turned out to be surprisingly interesting?

45 thoughts on “The ladies of the circuit – Mary

  1. Everybody is interesting! I am shy and we are a bit isolated in the country. So, I find everybody interesting in some way… 🙂 I am always looking for a gal pal that clicks… hard where we are located and at our age. It’s hard when you don’t have kids and grands. Thank the heavens for my sis-in-law! My first impressions are almost always wrong!


    • I consider myself shy although my work persona was not. I suck at small talk and am not patient with blither. I can tell within minutes whether someone has the possibility of being a real friend. You are right about it getting harder as we get older. No kids or grands locally is also a challenge. I find that most women my age locally are very involved in their families and don’t do a lot of “girl” things.


  2. Mary sounds like someone I would love to hang out with. I’m delighted you got to know the real Mary, and not the one in your head. We all do it much too often.
    I have a nephew who is a musician. Long hair, leather, denim, skulls…you get the picture. He gets judged all the time. The second he opens his mouth you know he is brilliant and one of the kindest people on the planet.


    • Now your nephew would intrigue me. I’m a sucker for musicians and always loved long hair (much to the dismay of my mother). If you could hear Mary’s voice, she sounds like Georgia Engels, you get a fumbling blonde impression.


  3. Kate I love this story she sounds like an amazing woman. I met a young ninety year old on my travels in London. I was working reception for a bus tour company. This gorgeous Australian woman smiled at me and told me this was her very first tour over seas. I thought she meant she had never travelled before, I was wrong. We chatted for awhile and I discovered she had travelled the world on her own for most of her life and now at ninety she decided to be on the safe side she should do a tour instead. I found myself saying… gee I hope I am that cool when I or if I get to ninety.


  4. What a wonderful story! I think age is probably where I’ve been wrong more plenty of times, and going both directions. I have someone in mind I thought was much, much older than she turned out to be, and as I got to know her realized that she’d battled health issues her whole life. And I have known some like you’re describing, and they really are ageless! And yes…I’m impressed you went on a Saturday! 🙂


    • I am impressed that I went on a Saturday. There was a woman I was fairly good friends with. We were in an organization together and did the occasional lunch. I knew she was younger than me but I didn’t think by much. I would have placed her in her upper 50s. She died last year and she was 53. When I first met her she was barely 40 and I already though she was in her 50s. I don’t know what it was. There was a maturity and old soul about her long before her illness.


  5. Great post! Not only is it a good reminder not to jump to conclusions, but also (at least for me anyway) to be more proactive in engaging others in conversation. I’ve never been good at small talk, and small talk can often result in big information and good connections.


  6. Great article, Kate, with ripples that spread far and wide. I’ve so enjoyed your replies to all these comments, too. I have a hunch that we’re especially prone to make false assumptions about people outside our own age group, whether younger or older. Do you think that is true?


  7. Mine went the other way. I have lovely neighbors — a helpful, retired older couple. They’ve aided other neighbors with everything from treehouses to kitchen remodeling. We’ve tried to be good neighbors back, and the husband flipped out when he discovered that we were liberal atheists.

    He couldn’t believe we were nice, helpful people who didn’t believe in God and didn’t watch Fox News. 🙂


  8. If there’s one thing I love, it’s judging people and leaping to conclusions. It’s the only time I really leap any distance at all. Mary sounds amazing and just getting to know her might actually hold my interest enough to keep me at the gym!


    • I can see you leaping all over. The only reason I go to the gym is to get blog posts. Period! Mary has a very sweet voice not at all like a Bea Arthur which she may well have been like in business.


    • I know how that works. Sometimes it’s based on past experience. We live in a nice development. We have one neighbor who is first generation US (which probably has nothing to do with it). Their place is always a mess. They cut down nice trees and leave dead ones. Trash is in the street because they didn’t put it in a container. Now I think all similar people are slobs. I hope it’s not true because we got this new neighbor…..

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Funny how we all are so certain that we can determine exactly who someone is from looks. Great story. People surprise me all the time. Makes life interesting, usually in a good way… but sometime not so much.


  10. No, I’ve never had that experience of misjudging someone upon meeting them, as my first impressions are always right. On the button. Right on the nose. Okay, just kidding. Yep, there’s been many times when I’ve actually entered into a conversation with one idea, only to find out that my preconceived notions couldn’t be further from the truth. Last time I can remember it happening was during a hospice volunteer visit, when I was convinced that the eldest daughter in a family would be the one melting into a puddle on the floor, when, in fact, she turned out to be calm and measured and steady as a rock. Her daily persona lead me to believe she would fall apart, but exactly the opposite was true. She taught me a thing or two about how to manage grief, and also provided a good reminder that what we think we know about people is often completely off the mark. Mary sounds like a very interesting person to get to know. 🙂


    • Death and grieving bring out sides of people you could never guess. Some of my most astounding revelations have been surrounded by grief. We had a guy whose son committed suicide. He was back at work within a week. I asked how his wife was doing and his comment was, “Fine. It’s been a week already.” I know he was hurting inside because he withdrew but he couldn’t acknowledge it. He was a very private man and I doubt if his wife was find.


  11. Lots! A bus driver with more University degrees than I can remember. Various people living on the street. An Indian doctor who was quite simply one of the nicest, courteous, sensitive doctors that I have ever met. In fairness, I have also had many people fall well below my pre-conceived ideas as to who they were! Life is fun isn’t it? 🙂


    • We had a retired guy who worked in our mail room. Turned out he was the head chef of a really nice restaurant prior to his retirement. There he was, lugging mail every day and I think he enjoyed the lack of responsibilities for a change.


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