(HOST) VPR commentators spoke at a brunch this spring on the theme of "If Only I Had Known." We’ll present selections from them all this week. We start with law school professor Cheryl Hanna, and her gathering with friends.
(HANNA) It was girls’ night out for me and my mommy friends. And so there we were, talking about our husbands and children as we usually do, when the waitress brought me a drink.
"Who is this from?" I asked her.
"A secret admirer. He asked me not to reveal his identity," she said.
And at that moment, I was immediately transported back to my high school years, except this time, I was the popular girl at the table.
My gaggle of girlfriends was all abuzz, speculating about who the mystery man was. I could see the envy in their eyes, and I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t enjoy it.
"Probably just an old boyfriend or someone whose a fan," I said, trying to seem nonchalant, but really, I was frantically scanning the crowded bar for a familiar face.
Then I send a text message to my husband. "FYI – Men sending me drinks." I made everything plural for emphasis.
And so there I sat, the alpha-female, sipping my drink and thinking to myself, girl, even after two kids and nearly a decade of marriage, you still got it, when one of my students and his wife, stopped by the table.
"Hey Professor Hanna! It’s great to see you out," my student said.
"I hope I still get out with my friends when I’m your age," his wife innocently remarked.
"What do you mean my age, honey? A secret admirer just sent me drink," I boasted as I fluffed my hair.
"We sent you that drink," they said.
I could hear the pity in their voices and at that moment, well, let’s just it was like I was in high school again, except now I was back among the wanna-bees.
It was worse than if they had never sent a drink in the first place, and I briefly contemplated flunking that kid.
Oh, If I had only known.
Let’s face it: getting old can be hard even for the most enlightened among us.
Sure, I know 40 is the new 20, blah blah blah
and every one of us will experience that moment in time when new phase of life will begin and I guess you can either pitifully cling to the past or gracefully embrace the future.
I found when faced with this choice, it was not any easy one to make. But thankfully my friends started laughing, and then I started laughing too, and then one of them secretly asked the waitress to send over another drink, and as our laugh lines grew deeper and our stories of lost loves grew grander, we plunged into the middle years of our lives.