Submitted for Your Approval
No offense, she just doesn't. Nothing personal. Wreatha Peters turned 90 last week, and you may have noticed, 90 year-olds don't really give a rip about their approval ratings. 90 year-olds aren't fashionable, and it's not because they can't get to the mall. They just plain don't care. And -- let's face it -- when you don't care what other people think, you don't tend to go to the mall.
A well-established concept in psychology is the "imaginary audience", and one particularly great experiment plumbing this had college students, given new t-shirts, attending a large lecture. The shirts had oversized, and embarrassing, pictures of Barry Manilow's face. After the class, they were asked, "What percentage of fellow students noticed you?" They all guessed around 80 percent.
Reality: Almost no one noticed.
To be young is to be attuned to the adoring, or mocking, crowd that isn't. To be attuned, and to care, deeply. Grandma don't care. Grandma's imaginary audience done got up and went.
Her hearing is fine, but don't applaud her. You'll just sting your hands. Applause only means something to us when we're young, because applause, at its deepest level, bodes something for us: some future advance in station, some future payoff, some future...something...that will make us more powerful, more able to get what we want, and maybe(!) that something will satisfy us.
Applause is a promissory note.
When you're 90, you don't accept promissory notes. You're too smart. You know you're going to die, and it's not going to matter. Earlier in life, you knew that, too, but you didn't allow yourself to think about it.
Poet Austin Dobson: "Fame is the food that dead men eat."
Grandma isn't hungry anymore.