On Monday, Gertrude Baines was having a little party: she turned 115, and became, as far as the Guiness Book of Records was concerned, the Oldest Woman In The World. People came from all over bearing flowers, gifts and good wishes. The aforementioned Guiness gents presented her with a proclamation declqring her unique status, and President Obama sent a congratulatory letter commemorating the event.
To keep the focus on Ms. Baines, the administrator at the Los Angeles convalescent home where she lives sent a pool camerman to cover the festivities, and gave reporters in the home's foyer a chance to talk to Md. Baines' best friend and her personal physician.
These 40-something old blonde media folk addressed the 74 year old best friend by her first name, and referred to the 115 year old birthday celebrant by her first name, too: "Lucille, can you give us a funny story about Gertrude?" and "Does Gertrude have a boyfriend?"
Aside from the inanity of the questions, I couldn't get over their insistence on referring to women old enough to be their mothers or grandmothers by their first names.
But maybe I'm being overly sensitive. Maybe it's a regional thing, not a lack of common sense thing. What do you think?
Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).
is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).