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Living Large

April 30, 2017 by Diane

The older I get, the more I shrink. And you know what that means.

Baggy elbows.

It’s not that my elbows sag. It’s just that I have more skin than stuff to fill it up.

I Googled How to get rid of baggy elbows, and found several YouTube videos with exercises involving a lot of repetitive arm movements in various directions. Watching the videos left me exhausted, but did nothing for my elbows.

There must be an easier way. Something that doesn’t involve a knife. Although there probably is a doctor who debags elbows.

I imagine meeting him at a cocktail party—not that I attend cocktail parties, but that’s the kind of party I imagine an elbow doctor attending. He’s standing next to the artificial potted fern, looking artificial. Mannikin-artificial. Which is why I mosey over and strike up a conversation, because a conversation with a mannikin is all I can handle as an introvert. But surprise, surprise, he responds when I say, “Howdy, stranger. I couldn’t help but notice you from across the room.” We chat, and eventually I get around to asking, “What kind of business are you in?”

And he says, “Elbows.”

“Elbows?” I say.

“I debag them.”

“Of course you do.”

And he hands me his card.

Which brings me to my first point to ponder:

What do elbow doctors do with all that excess skin? Do they have bags of baggy elbows? Do they donate the stash to medical research, like Henrietta Lacks’s cells, although in her case, her cells were used without her consent? Who knows what anti-aging or cancer-curing miracles might be discovered from baggy elbows.

Elbows are odd ducks. They come in handy when I’m making my way through a crowd. They’re useful pushing a swinging door open when I’m carrying dinner plates. When I don’t feel like shaking someone’s hand, I can give them an elbow instead. Beyond that, what good are they? Poking out someone’s eye?

The funny bone is located in the vicinity of the elbow, but when that thing gets whacked there’s nothing funny about it.

Which brings me to my second point to ponder:

Why do we keep the funny bone, but yank the wisdom teeth? I can only surmise that we value humor over wisdom. Which is wise, come to think of it. As long as we maintain our sense of humor, we can survive damn near anything.

Even baggy elbows.

In the meantime, I get older, I shrink, and my world does, too. Where once I jetted around the globe—okay, not the globe, the country. Once. Where once I jetted, now I shuffle to the refrigerator, which doesn’t require shuffling as much as reaching from my desk chair or the bed, because my cottage is a former playhouse. If I live long enough, eventually my world will shrink to the dimensions of a nursing home bed. I’ll gaze out the window without being able to see what I’m gazing at, and my world will shrink to the dimensions of my imagination. Which could actually be rather large.

Bringing me to my third point to ponder:

Why is it, the smaller people get, the larger they live? It’s like they’re trying to fill the space they once occupied. They talk loud. They dress loud, in patterned Bermuda shorts, thick sandals, and black socks pulled up to their calves. They carry big purses. They wear huge glasses. And they have big opinions.

Don’t get me started on their cars.

My mother, who’s ahead of me in terms of shrinkage, drives a Chevy Tahoe. It’s a mystery how she sees over the dash. From outside the car, all I see is her forehead.

While I watch exercise videos for elbows, my mother, who wears a back brace because her spine could crumble at any moment, is carting a dead deer in her little red wagon to the curb for the animal control people to claim. Days later, when even the garbage man won’t touch it, she’s tossing it into a garbage bag and carting it to the backyard and burying it with a shovel. While I ponder the usefulness of elbows, my mother is fishing things from the creek with a hoe, like the opossum skeleton for some nice boy in the neighborhood, and a man’s wallet, crawling with worms. While I daydream about elbow doctors, my mother is feeding every feral cat that migrates to her yard, even the finicky Siamese that insists on dining atop the garage roof. While I wonder if the funny bone is actually a bone, my mother is hauling giant bags of cat food from the back of her Tahoe. And if the handicapped parking space is too far from the front door of Raley’s Supermarket, you can bet everyone in the store will hear about it when my mother complains to the sixteen-year-old bag boy.

My mother knows how to live large. She knows how to claim her space in the world. Does she have baggy elbows? Who knows? Who cares? She’s got bigger things to focus on. Besides, with all that carting and tossing and burying and fishing and feeding and hauling, those elbows get a workout.

YouTube’s got nothing on my mother.


  1. Eliza says:

    You had me chuckling throughout this whole post, Diane. Your mother sounds like quite a character, and from what I can tell, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 😉

  2. Joan says:

    Your mom was always “big” to me. She always lived a big life in my eyes and apparently still does! More power to her!!! We need to worry less about baggie elbows

  3. Pearl Allard says:

    Loved this, Diane! Thanks for such a good-humored perspective on aging. Your mom sounds like a wonderful person! Now to go inspect my elbows…

  4. mydangblog says:

    And now I’m feeling my elbows, wondering how much is too much sag? I’m hoping to grow old gracefully though, like your mom, and not just rest on my elbows, but put them to good use!

  5. Riley Bates says:

    Thanks for the fun post, you gave me some good chuckles. You post has me wondering…what about ‘elbow grease’–who came up with that term? LOL Elbows are sometimes useful in combat when you’re on your belly clamoring and clawing for safety and need your elbows to help push you along. 🙂

    • Diane says:

      Good question! Because elbows are the un-greasiest doohickeys on Earth. And you’re right…there’s another good use for ’em. Ha!

  6. Speaking of elbow grease, my grandmother used to tell me to dab hand cream on my elbows whenever I put it on my hands. She learned this from her mother who learned it from her mother, who… And talk about shrinking, Grandma barely came up to my chest when she was in her 90’s, yet she could jerk a half-ton cow around like it was a hamster. Maybe you and I will get that tough if we live long enough.

    • Diane says:

      Whoa! A half-ton cow? Wow. I’d settle for being half as strong when I’m that age. Hopefully, I won’t be dragging around any dead animals!

  7. Sarah says:

    Eew…bags of baggy elbows. You’re wicked gross. But, yeah, funny bones and wisdom teeth… A lot to chew on with that one. Hey, when I’m old and small, I want to live LARGE. 🙂

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