Mr. and Mrs. Skinny

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By Cheryl Hansen


I used to commute from Pasadena to Burbank every day. There are very few pleasant aspects about commuting anywhere in Los Angeles County, but I found one—or two, I guess, technically speaking. Every single day—rain or shine (mostly shine in Southern California), I would search the sidewalks for Mr. and Mrs. Skinny. Each pushing 99 years old, in my estimation, with deep wrinkles to prove it, they walked hand in hand at a good clip for someone half their age. They were both rather thin, which explains their not-so-creative nickname. She had a head full of tight salt-and-pepper curls, while his hair was so thin and translucent, it was almost purple—years before purple was popular.


These two triggered my imagination in a way that I initially attributed to my need to be entertained during an L.A. commute. I have no idea where they lived, but I’d built a modest house in my head with 50s-era furnishings and a bright yellow kitchen. It was long-ago paid for—because, in my mind, these people had their shit together. I wanted to be them when I grew up.


I was pretty sure they ate old-school meat-and-potatoes diets—with butter and red meat. Everything in moderation. They stayed so slim, I reasoned, because they didn’t eat big portions—they shared a meal on the rare occasions they ate out. They didn’t indulge in a lot of sweets, and they walked. A lot. Holding hands the whole way.


I only saw them face to face once. I was on my own walk and actually got a little starstruck to be honest. I greeted them with a warm and too-enthusiastic, “Good afternoon!” Their reply was a slightly less warm, way-less-enthusiastic grunt that may or may not have included “hello.”


While it wasn’t the fairy-tale meeting I might have imagined, the encounter with Mr. and Mrs. Skinny was all good. I wonder now if the real reason I admired these people so much is the fact that they seemed strong, healthy—and yes, thin—without a lot of gimmicks—at least in my impression of them. I’m quite certain Mrs. Skinny didn’t spend hours online searching whether or not gluten was the source of her gut issues. I doubt Mr. Skinny logged their walks on a fancy app. I trust their approach to living healthy was a whole lot of common sense. So really, I just want to have common sense when I grow up. Imagine.


I can’t really picture Mr. and Mrs. Skinny rolling out their mats at a cool yoga studio like YogaPod. Well I can, but the idea makes me laugh. But I think common sense grows with us. And if I’m aiming to adopt their no BS way of life—there’s no reason yoga can’t be a part of it. So when I’m pushing 99 and hitting my Warrior II pose, I bet some young mom lacking confidence will look at me and imagine what color my kitchen is.


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