Ed Asner made me feel so old last week. It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t set out to remind me of my age but he just put it into a perspective I really didn’t need. I was watching Mary Tyler Moore, oh—before I go on I need to let everyone know about MeTV. I stumbled on it while traveling up my cable offerings. On Time Warner in New York it’s on channel 144 and let me tell you it is video pablum. Along with MTM there are evening airings of Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart. I know! Spending 22 minutes in the company of those geniuses will cure whatever ails you.
Anyway, so I was watching Mary and Rhoda and they were having some discussion with Phyllis wherein Phyl made a snide remark about their singleton statuses. (Stati?) They were both “almost 30” and gasp, single! As Cloris Leachman babbled on I found myself floating to my computer, calling up IMDB and checking on the ages of Mary and Valerie Harper at the time the show aired. In fact, they were both over 30 (double gasp), Mary being 34 and Valerie 31. That was the first hurdle I had to get over. They both seemed so “old” when I watched the show as a kid. They were ladies; Mare getting ready for a date in a little black dress, hair up in a twist, fastening a hoop earring while Rhoda munched on popcorn sitting on the velvet pull-out sofa cracking wise about whatever dork was about to pick her friend up. Ok, that wasn’t particularly “lady-like” but they appeared to be grown-ups and here I am learning they were waaay younger than I am today. Not to mention that their slight embarrassment over being single at 30 is just beyond ridiculous.
But that isn’t what got me as much as what I learned when my eyes rested on the website’s tiny thumbnail picture of Ed Asner as Lou Grant. Take a minute and think about Lou. He was irascible, grumpy, worn, a big drinker and seemed to carry the weight of the world on his bulky shoulders. And now wait for this: the first season of the show “Mr. Grant”, or Mr. Asner, was 41 years old. Let’s put this in perspective. Jon Hamm is 41. Mark Wahlberg is 41. And Matt Damon is 42. Huh? It just doesn’t compute. But most importantly, I am not 41. How am I older than “Mr. Grant?”
With Ed hovering in the back of my mind I was chatting with two of my pod-mates at work when one of them asked what it was like growing up in New York. These two are quite a bit younger than I and one of them said she thought I was probably 35. And for that I will always love her. But as we talked about the nightlife of a teenager in the asphalt jungle I had to catch myself before I mistakenly showed my (non-driver ID) card. They were discussing the need for fake ID’s while they were in college and I was about to reveal that back in my day the drinking age was 18, not 21. It wouldn’t have taken but a second to do the math (thanks a lot Wikipedia) and frankly, I work with so many more twentysomethings than fortysomethings that I just didn’t need to be looked at like an odd curiosity with a dash of what would surely be pity.
Then I went to the movies. I was sitting in the crowded theater before the 7:45 screening of Looper (if anyone has seen it and can explain it, please let me know) and a dad and his teenage son sat next to me. As always, the theater was playing commercials before the previews before the feature and there was some deafening (I really am o.l.d.) ad about scoring tickets to upcoming Led Zeppelin concerts. While “Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move…” was blasting from the screen the 15-year-old kid leaned over to his dad and yelled, “Is Led Zeppelin a guy or a girl?” Okay, game over. I guess it’s safe to assume that 8th grade boys are no longer groping their dance partners to the strains of “Stairway to Heaven.”
Speaking of concerts, recently I was at a dinner party and one woman was bemoaning the fact that her daughter’s first concert would most likely be along the lines of Justin Bieber. “How can I let that happen?” she sighed. That led to us going around the table and reminiscing about our firsts. Mine was Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden—The Stranger tour if I’m not mistaken. I went with three friends, one of whom stole a cigarette from her sister’s bedroom which the four of us shared. We were 12. Someone else remembered seeing The Go-Go’s which sounded like fun and then the host said, “Mine was Janis Joplin.” Whoa! That changed everything. Here I was feeling 100 and he was old enough to see someone who had been dead so long she was never part of my consciousness at all.
But like so many band-aids, the healing properties of this comforting piece of information were short lived. All it took was one pass by the fluorescent lighted mirror in my office ladies room and all I could think of was another friend’s husband. He’s a dermatologist and has a stash of Botox in their apartment refrigerator for when she needs a little perking up – the youthful genie in a bottle waiting to be released in their own Sub-Zero! That is one fridge I’d like to raid. Oh don’t judge! And don’t knock it till you try it.
Unfortunately injectables are not in my foreseeable financial portfolio and so I slather on creams, balms and gels and try not to frown too much or suck on straws too much. I exercise, drink plenty of water and then I heard terrible news; studies show refined sugars speed along the aging process. Are you kidding me?! The one thing that is guaranteed to give me pleasure? I had always focused on caloric damage, not tissue destruction!
And so to the cupboard I went. And I made a recipe with the number one anti-aging fruit (blueberries!), which was also low in sugar, high in whole grains and low in fat. These muffins are surprisingly good considering I usually take mine with three times as much butter and twice as much sugar. But the crunch from the corn meal is really nice and they are totally satisfying. Is that code for dense? Well, a tiny bit but not in a bad way, truly. I liked the chew and they are filled with juicy fruit.
So I made myself a cup of anti-oxidant dense green tea, toasted a muffin and while I waited for the glow of my 35 year old skin to return, I clicked on Facebook to be greeted by several suggestions of “People You May Know.” And there he was. Ed Asner. Think I should friend him?
Don't Feel Old Blueberry-Cornmeal Muffins
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2003
Printer friendly version
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/4 cups yogurt
2 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Lightly coat a standard muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest.
In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, egg yolks and butter. Stir yogurt mixture into flour mixture until just blended. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until just stiff. Gently fold whites and blueberries into the batter until just combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup three-quarters full.
Bake 20 minutes until tops are golden and a cake tester inserted in a muffin center comes out clean. Let muffins cool slightly, about 10 minutes, before turning out of tin.
Yield: 12 muffins