There it was again, a familiar description of an older couple: (story on NASA's flaws, March 2) " . . . 60-year-old (James M.) Beggs, a tall, patrician figure, and his wife, Mary, a slender grandmother."

Why is it always the woman who is described as a "grandmother" while the man somehow is never pictured as a "grandfather?"

I'm sure it's meant as a form of compliment--everyone likes grandmothers--but if that's true, why not let the men in on the act? Surely grandfathers are to be equally respected. But we've all been brainwashed into patting the little old lady on the shoulder and pushing her into the homebody slot while assigning the little old man a more aloof but worldly position as consort. It looks normal to us.

Let's try writing the description another way. " . . . 60-year-old Beggs, a patrician grandfather, and his wife, Mary, a slender, chic figure." It doesn't seem quite right, does it? Mary appears now as something of an interloper.

Oh, well, I suppose it's more acceptable with Grandma Beggs as originally depicted, and Grandpa Beggs will just have to live with it.



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