Saturday, May 22, 2010


Something strange happened to me recently in the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. It was one of those little incidents that is no big deal, really, but that goes on tickling the brain for weeks afterward. My brain has now been tickled to the point that I need to write.

Hal and I were on our way to a Miami meeting of the academic council of the program we work with. We had a two hour layover in Dallas right at lunch time. Although I try to eat healthy food, even on trips, I occasionally I get the urge for a hamburger, fries, and coke. (This is a confession.) I knew of a place in the airport that serves gourmet hamburgers and I managed to talk Hal into it.

We found a table in the crowded mall and slowly ate our burgers, thoroughly enjoying this slightly sinful luxury. We were not too aware of the people around us, but as we got up to leave the restaurant, a young couple at a nearby table stopped us, and said, “You guys are so cute! How long have you been together?”

I managed to mumble, “Oh, about 43 years,” and Hal added, “We really like each other.” “We can tell,” the woman said, and we moved on.

But I was stunned and not altogether pleased. It seemed like something one said to wrinkled people with white hair who hobble down the street holding hands. And who are, indeed, cute. I know I’m growing older, but I don’t think I’m ready for cute.

There was a time, of course, when cute mattered. I was a serious adolescent, a student, a reader of Great Literature, a poet, and so on. But in my heart of hearts I longed to be a cheer leader, go steady, and be considered cute.

Thanks be to God, I outgrew it. As an adult cute ceased to occupy a place on my list of values (except for the time when, as a young mother, I was relieved that my babies were cute). I haven’t worried about cute in years, and I certainly don’t want to now.

I guess this is really about growing older and accepting this season in life. I’m not sure how I’m doing with this. I need to admit that as soon as I got home from Miami, I bought some hair color, part of my anti-cute remedy. But this, of course, doesn’t solve anything. I think I just need to confess my dis-ease (what I’m doing here), laugh about it, and focus on what matters. So, what matters? How about—“To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God”?

Sort of makes cute seem irrelevant.

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