07 June 2013

Ester Williams

Pulling from a past post on Ester Williams. This wonderful actress and athlete died this week. What happiness she brought to so many. May she rest in peace.

From a conversation I had with my mother in 2006 (my mom died 3 months ago):

Well, the first question might be who the hell is Esther Williams? She's a movie star that swam in all of her films. Glitzy, splashy Hollywood style movies (couldn't resist the pun).

Muzzy (nearly 80) saw a commercial with a young, really young, mom cooing to her adorable, chubby baby. "That's Esther Williams' baby. Isn't it cute?"

"Nah, nah, that's not Esther Williams. THE Esther Williams, you mean?"

"YE-E-E-S," she said sarcastically, "Esther Williams. You know Esther Williams?"

"The swimmer."

"Yes. She's wonderful in all her movies."

"That's not Esther Williams. She's like 80."

"What? Oh, stop. That was her right there."

"Mom, she's older than you. That woman was in her twenties."

"Esther Williams is maybe 40 at the most."


Then, she used my full name, middle name and all! "Yes, she's young. That's her baby."

"Her daughter's baby, maybe, or her granddaughter's baby. But Esther is OLD. Too old for babies."

"She is not. Don't be ridiculous." Now she's angry.

"Ok, I'll go google her." And I left the room knowing that no matter what I found out she wouldn't believe me.

When I returned, I said, "She was a member of the 1940's Olympic Team and her first movie was with Mickey Rooney. And I think he's dead. She's old."

"Now I know you are making things up. He is not dead, he's about 50."

I'm thinking I should just give up about now. Obviously, she wants Esther to be young, eternally, as she is in all the films. But something drives me to pursue this ludicrous venture. "When did you see her movies?"

"I don't know. They're on from time to time."

"No, I mean first see her in the movies." Then, I jump to the chase. "She was born in 1922. You were born in 1927. It be--like you having a baby."

"Well,............................ she's just 40. You're wrong. Not 1922, that must be someone else."

Here we go, I pushed her wheelchair through the house to the computer and showed her the Wikepedia on Esther Williams which was showing a photo of Esther at about 20.

"Yes, that's her. Look, see, she's still young."

"IN THE PHOTO, mom. Not today. Read this--born in 1922."

"Oh. I can't believe that."

So, we go back to the kitchen and she says, "I bet no one knows that."

"Everyone knows she's 80 something. I'll call someone and ask. I bet your sister knows." She scowlls at me as I pick up the phone and dial. "Hi, hey, do you by chance know how old Esther Williams is?"

"I guess she's about 40. Why?"

I am shocked and appauled. Has the world gone mad? Is this a dream? "When did you first see her movies?"

"I guess when I was young."

"How old?"

"When we were in school we used to go watch her in the movies."

"It's 2006. How old is Esther Williams."

Gasp! "She must be in her 80's."

"I am handing the phone to my mother. Tell her how old Esther Williams is."

My mother's face says it all. Esther, we now all agree, is 85.

Why do I feel NO relief, no sense of having won the battle. I feel guilty. I've taken away their false reality. What difference does it make if Esther Williams is 25, 40, or dead? I really did think she was dead actually. So, I guess I'm happy to find out she isn't. We should all be happy she's alive and well and recuperating from an infection for which she was hospitalized in sunny California.

Moral of the story: We are only as old as we feel until someone comes along and throws cold water with an old swimmer in it right in our lap.

No comments: