Photographs and Text by Corey Amaro. Except the last photo is from La Grotte's homepage.
Annie is ninety years old. I asked the birthday girl how she felt to be ninety, she gave her easy laugh and offered, "You know, I do not look so bad for ninety, do I? Most people think I am in my early eighties. Doesn't that sound funny, early eighties, as if that is young? But I guess I look good for ninety." I told her she looked better than most eighty year old that I knew, and if someone said I was her mother I was going to scream. She laughed and then poked me, and said, "You do not look like my mother! Not even my sister!" I like Annie.
I picked her up at seven, she did not know where we were going, other than out for dinner. As Annie was getting in the car she said, "I wore my pretty skirt, the one I wear for special occasions." As I buckled her in my old, little car, I grabbed her face with my hands and said, "Hey Annie, when you reach Ninety, everyday is a special occasion! I want to see you wear the skirt until it gets holes in it." She laughed, and swat my arm, then we both laughed.
It was like that all evening; Poking, hitting, laughing, simple pleasure stuff, between two girlfriends.
We went to one of my favorite restaurants, La Grotte. I told the waiter it was Annie's ninetieth birthday. He said, "Then you need to celebrate, I'll bring champagne on the house." Annie looked at me and we both started laughing. She said, "It is a good thing I don't drive. Too bad for you!"
We drank champagne.
Then we had fish soup... As we were eating I asked Annie if she knew how to make it? She gave me that look that said, "Duh!" We talked about fish soup, and how we would make it next week, if my kitchen was ready to handle it.
As the conversation rolled from food, to rose jam, to her past, to present moments she told me about a woman she knows who is unhappy in her marriage. (Married women, single women, and women in general usually end up talking about their relationships, no matter if they are nine years old or ninety years old.)
"She wants to leave him but she doesn't want to leave her home, and her things."
"How old is she? Not that it matters." I teased (Annie left her husband when she was 84 years old)."
"Oh she's young she's around 75. Anyway, she has been unhappy for years. She says she wants to kill her husband, seriously kill him, so she could be alone in the house. But I told her if she kills him she will go to prison and will be forced to leave her home. You know people often get crazy when they get older. But I think being stuck, and feeling trapped makes you do crazy things. "
That is what I like about older women. They state the obvious and go straight to the point. "I'd like to kill my husband." And they respond to the point, "If you do, you'll go to prison."
Annie continued, "Leaving someone you have spent a lifetime with isn't easy. Nothing is easy after all. Everything is a choice."
We drank some more champagne and absorbed each others thoughts.
On the way home, about an hour's drive, Annie sang songs to keep me awake.
She sang, "ninety-nine bottles of wine on the wall..." I couldn't believe it, but she did, except she never went under, ninety bottles, since it was her birthday.
Note: Annie's family celebrates her birthday on May 30th, and has ever since she was a young girl. But on her birth certificate the date is; May 14th. Annie and I celebrate her birthday on this day, and have for years.
La Grotte in Marseille,
at the port of Callelongue.
Adresse : Calanque de Callelongue - 13008 Marseille
Tél. : 04 91 73 17 79
Fax : 04 91 73 20 54