Look Both Ways

Janus sees two sides to every story

By Deborah Salomon

As the year winds down and Christmas draws nigh, I think of Janus, the Roman god of transitions for whom January was named, the god pictured with two faces — one looking forward, the other, back. This timing works for me since I was born soon after New Year’s Day, that year being 1939. So many years, so many experiences. Some make me feel old, others, like a feisty youngster.

Old: Seeing a close-up of Robert Redford — McDreamy before Patrick Dempsey was even born. Now his face — untouched by plastic surgery — is craggier than the Utah topography where he hides out. There it is, promoting a new movie called, no less, The Old Man & the Gun.

Young: Remembering how he looked at the Vermont grocery store when visiting his daughter and grandchildren — tousled, cute, short.

Old: Resorting to jeans with a stretchy waistband.

Young: Doing something about it, then burning the stretchy jeans on a funeral pyre.

Old: Preferring my desktop PC to any of the newfangled laptops. 

Young: Knowing my treasured photos are safe in a box, not on a cellphone memory chip.

Old: Remembering that I was the first, after his parents, to hold my 10-minute-old grandson. In May, he graduates from law school.

Young: Knowing he thinks I’m still tolerably cool.

Old: Associating (w)rappers with what encloses a candy bar.

Young: Knowing, deep down, that Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Elton John are better than any of them.

Old: Preferring to receive bills printed on paper, by mail.

Young: Paying them electronically. This way, I always have financial records at hand, filed in — horrors! — a brown accordion folder.

Old: Having lived through at least three cycles of bell-bottoms. Pants can only be cut so many ways, extremes being stovepipe and palazzo.

Young: Wise enough to shelve a few pairs until fashionable once again. Leggings can’t last forever, as evidenced by Melania Trump, whose designer palazzos currently flap in the breeze.

Old enough: To miss every answer in certain Jeopardy! categories. I don’t even understand the clues.

Young enough: To know every answer the young ’uns miss. And then some.

Old enough: Remembering when elected officials were respected for their service and behavior.

Young enough: To express outrage when they disappoint. Me too, baby.

Old enough: To like my coffee plain and black.

Young enough: To laugh at a $4 cup of froth.

Old enough: To like plain, unsweetened tea.

Young enough: What is chai, anyway?

Old: Remembering when Life and Look were much-anticipated weekly magazines and fifth-graders cut up National Geographic for projects.

Young enough: To follow blogs.

Old enough: To miss power steering.

Young enough: To mistrust self-driving cars.

Old enough: To have stayed in locally owned motels, cabins and “tourist homes.”

Young enough: To appreciate Airbnbs.

Old enough: To yen for Howard Johnson’s 28 flavors.

Young enough: To understand Ben & Jerry’s message-laden flavors. But really, guys: “Bernie’s Yearning?”

Old enough: To remember when Miss America was a big deal, and the biggest deal was the (one-piece) swimsuit competition.

Young enough: To appreciate why emphasis has shifted, along with ratings.

Old enough: To remember, shudder, when old ladies wore old-lady shoes.

Young enough: These boots are made for walkin’.

Old enough: To remember when family doctors made house calls.

Young enough: House calls? They don’t even go to the hospital anymore. Smart. Might catch a nasty virus.

Old enough: To remember life as perfectly acceptable before McDonald’s, Costco, Amazon and Hulu.

Young enough: To binge-shop at Whole Foods.

Enough enoughs. C’mon, Janus. Let’s go have a beer. No, not a Rheingold. One of those local crafty brews with names like “Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.”  PS

Deborah Salomon is a staff writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.

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