View from the Hill
Getting Older Is Hot
By Catherine Durkin Robinson
May 15, 2011 - 3:15:31 AM

LOS ANGELESDo you remember where you were the first time you felt it? Most people remember. They can tell you what they were wearing, where they were sitting, and which kid vowed never to be seen in public with them again. They can even sing a few verses of the song that was playing at the time.


Me? I can tell you what I was reading: "Eat, Pray, Love." And what I was smelling: a woman, not three feet away from me, who had obviously bathed in Estee Lauder’s Beautiful. It was the first time I ever experienced heartburn.


That’s right. Heartburn.


First of all, let me go out on a limb and say that I am firmly against three things in life: cruelty, self-waxing and audible digestion. I do not enjoy, and feel prone to violent outburst, when I hear someone processing their meal.


I’m not talking about people who chew with their mouths open (read: my children). They are often cute or easily ignored if a bottle of wine is nearby. If someone is over the age of 35 and possesses a penis, then open chewing is proof the man doesn’t have a wife worth a damn. But allowing me to see food in your mouth, however gross, doesn’t fall under the category of digestion. It’s bad manners.


And that’s a whole other column.


Right now, I’m talking about burping in all its forms: loud, silent, hiccup-like, and especially when it’s followed by a sigh or groan or fist to the sternum. A laugh and “Excuse the heavyweight champ!” just makes it worse. Why do I hate it so?


It reminds me of people who make a wrong turn and then tie up traffic for a mile and a half trying to turn around again. They are making their problems my problems.


I’ve got enough of my own.


Vegetable sandwhich. Photo by Jocelyn Holt
Yet there I was, embarrassed enough to be reading something Oprah recommended, and after eating a veggie sub, I was burping up a storm. Thank God they were semi-silent burps. A plane ride is uncomfortable enough. But still horrified to be burping, I felt a burning sensation in my throat, and then, oh my goodness, tasted the pickles and onions again that I’d just swallowed.


Great. I’m my Uncle Eddie after his sixth Genny Beer.

Thank God my husband wasn’t there to poke fun or wave his hand in front of his nose like I was stinking up a storm. Alone in my horror was the only positive to be found in the experience.


I grabbed my bottled water and chugged. I seemed to remember episodes of "The Cosby Show" where good old Bill could no longer eat his beloved hoagies. Wasn’t he in his 50s with grown children when his lovely wife would scold that those sandwiches were going to keep him up all night? Didn’t they have salami and roast beef and other horrors mixed in with the pickles and onions? Yes, if memory serves, Denise Huxtable was old enough to be off having sex with Lenny Kravitz when Bill experienced digestion issues.


Once again, I’m too young for this nonsenseanother indignity to go along with my laugh lines and dry skin.


Then I remembered a doctor’s visit several months ago. I underwent a barium swallow. The doctor had shown me a slight hernia where my esophagus meets my stomach and warned this would start happening. Yet another inherited gift from my Durkin and Walsh ancestors. While I’m thrilled I got their independent streak and impressive rack, I could do without the varicose veins, inability to carry a tune, and now reflux after a veggie sub.


After a few minutes, the burping stopped and I felt more like myself again. I learned that Apple Cider Vinegar with mother helps, along with going easy on the pickles and onions. I also now have more tolerance for those who make noises at the table. The universe certainly has a way of helping me to better accept the people around me.


I added this latest malady to a growing list of behaviors thought intolerable until they started happening to me. Can’t wait to see what’s next.


I hope I don’t start humming in public bathrooms or wearing pantyhose with sandals. God help me. Please.

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