“Old Lady” is is rude as fuck for a member of the public, but technically not inaccurate if the woman is 63, as early versions of the story claimed. But “elderly woman”? At 63? Look at her, with her dark (yes, likely bottle dark) hair, baseball jersey and glove. No one who walks the stairs at an MLB stadium is elderly.
There’s something about the intersection of age and gender that drives youngsters like babyfaced Timmy Burke, age unknown to me, mad. The sports world is full of thousand-year-old men, yet male sportswriters manage to write about them without gratuitous insult. The same week the not-elderly woman did not catch the baseball, little Timmy wrote fairly and sensibly about crypt-keeper David Letterman, 68; withered dust speck Steve Martin, 69; and even an 84-year-old Australian soccer big shot who fell off a stage.
Alas, this sexist ageism — sageism? — afflicts the occasional young woman. The same evening Timmy had his claws out, so briefly did Gabrielle. She called a 40-year-old woman “elderly” — Kidding! The woman was 60 — and the passage was rewritten shortly after it was published.
These paid, professional writers do know that “old” and “elderly” aren’t synonymous, right?