Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Generation Gap Redux

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Generation Gap Redux

Article excerpt

Susan met one of her mother's friends on the sidewalk outside church.

"So," said the church lady. "How is your mother?"

The woman leaned forward inquisitively. Her tight gray curls quivered. Even the flower on her hat seemed to be asking a question.

"Fine," said Susan.

That wasn't what the woman wanted to hear. She straightened her hat and screwed up her determination.

"I haven't seen your mother at church lately," she said.

Should Susan say it? Should she betray her mother? Aww, what the heck. It was too good to keep secret.

"She's shacking up with Herman," said Susan.

The church lady looked deliciously shocked. Susan felt better knowing the news was out.

Susan's mother, a proper widow of 67, is living in sin with a widower of 70. Susan is outraged. She's not mad because Mom is having some fun. She's unhappy because Mom kept Susan to strict standards standards she no longer feels are worthwhile.

"When I was dating my husband, Sam, I lived at home," she said. "My mother gave me a rigid curfew. If I got home late, I was grounded for weeks. Funny, my two younger brothers didn't have the same restrictions. They got to do anything.

" `Nice girls behave themselves,' my mother said. `We have morals in this family. We have standards.' "

She must have really cared about you.

"She did not," Susan said. "She cared about the neighbors. She'd say, `What will the neighbors think if you're out all night?'

"When Sam and I were engaged, and I wanted to see him at school in Florida, my mother wouldn't let me. She said nice girls don't do that, either."

Once again it was: "What would the neighbors think? An unmarried girl flying across the country to see a young man. Disgraceful!"

Susan and Sam got married, which the neighbors thought was lovely.

Virtue is its own punishment. After their trip down the aisle, Sam and Susan settled into a life of responsibility. "We both work. We have kids, a house payment and debts. Meanwhile, my mother, the woman who insisted I stay a nice girl, is happily living in sin. …

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