Kathy O’Malley’s ‘Girlfriends’ verse strikes a chord

Kathy O’Malley

Although “The Kathy & Judy Show” has been off the air since February, Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey still have a powerful connection with their audience.

No wonder O’Malley and Markey’s legion of fans — a loose-knit sorority known as “The Girlfriends” — was so disappointed when the duo was dropped from the Saturday lineup on WGN AM 720. (It was the second time they’d been canceled by the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station. Their first run together ended in 2009 after 20 years in middays.)

Just this week a poem O’Malley posted on the “Kathy and Judy” Facebook fan page generated more than 166,000 likes and more than 25,000 comments in only five days. It’s been shared more than 90,000 times.

“I truly was stunned by the reaction,” O’Malley said Thursday. Nothing she or Markey had written for the site ever made such an impact.

O’Malley said it took her 10 minutes to compose the verse, a bittersweet ode to the maladies and mishaps common to older women. “This certainly was not a Judith Viorst piece,” she said. “This was just a ‘sit down and make it rhyme’ poem. I know it’s very pedestrian. But it spoke to people. They got it.”

The outpouring of comments, she said, “emphasized how strong that demographic is and how they’re not being heard. Women of a certain age — and I’m thinking of women over 60 — simply are being dismissed. But they love each other and support each other. I think it’s cool that it spoke to women we’ve loved for our whole career.”

Now living in Glen Ellyn, O’Malley devotes her time to community volunteer work. She’s on the board of the People’s Resource Center and serves as a special advocate with CASA of DuPage County representing a child going through the court system.

Here is the text of O’Malley’s Facebook post:

Recently ate at a restaurant where a table of girlfriends of a certain age were having a wonderful time, and came home and wrote this. You may recognize somebody, maybe yourself . . .

Lunch with Girlfriends
By Kathy O’Malley

Elaine’s vertigo has never been worse
Kay can’t recall where she left her purse
Rhonda’s about to replace her knees
Linda’s breathing is tinged with a wheeze

Donna’s left boob has a troublesome lump
Diane’s on her third trip to take a dump
Lorraine’s husband can’t remember a thing
Nine years a widow, Marge still wears her ring

Marlene is dealing with another UTI
Sally’s giving a hearing aid another try
Marie has decided she can’t drive at night
Sharon still wears clothes two sizes too tight

They’ve been through divorces and babies and wakes
They do for each other whatever it takes
They’ve already buried Marcia and Kate
And truthfully, Lizzie’s not looking so great

So whenever they can, they get out to eat
Open bottles of wine and forget their sore feet
There’s laughing and crying and letting down guards
And when the bill comes, there’s ten credit cards

So here’s to the waiters who keep orders straight
And to the places that let lunches run three hours late
And here’s to the girlfriends, those near and those far
Here’s to the girlfriends, you know who you are