Go Like Flo

Having just celebrated a birthday, this post might seem counter-intuitive. After all, a birthday is a joyful event when another year around the sun is feted. Yet, when you’re my age, you start becoming keenly aware of how much runaway is – or isn’t – remaining.

You see, I had a favorite great aunt named Flo who passed away at age 75. When I was a kid, 75 sounded like the year 2020 – well beyond my comprehension and certainly not on the radar screen. Now at my tender age, I actually have friends who are 75…it’s a number that’s creeping closer.

Anyway, back to Flo. Flo was a feminist before that had a formal moniker. Not in the planned sense. More in the “I work so I can eat and pay my bills” sense. Flamboyant a la Mae West in appearance, she wore her blonde hair in an updo, bright red lipstick and lots of vibrantly colored clothes. Always the life of the party, every family photo shows Flo with balloons around her neck and a Manhattan in her hand. She laughed loudly, smoked like a chimney and drove like a maniac.

She was so glamorous and unconventional; it was very exciting when Flo visited. To my childish delight, she made my parents nervous – especially after being furloughed by her employer for telling someone to eff off. She was also the closest in the family to a celebrity. Every local ribbon cutting photo opp had Flo in the forefront – including the opening of the Verrazano Bridge – with her rescue dog, Happy, in tow.

Flo dropped dead in the Bronx while waiting for her order at a local McDonald’s. Seriously. She was ordering a Big Mac when the Grim Reaper cut ahead of her in line. Even in death, Flo was memorable. And while McDonald’s has never been my thing, there’s great appeal in going like Flo; preferably on the beach, drinking Veuve Clicquot.

The moral of this ditty is simple: getting older is a privilege. And, you never know when your time will be up. So be like Flo: cover the gray, wear leather, drive fast with the top down and treat yourself to a cocktail. Oh, and adopt a dog. Name it Happy.

Mae West

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