After watching the season 8 “Farhampton” episode of How I Met Your Mother, I realized that Ted has a bit of a history with the older ladies. I love when he connects with them in pursuit of true love! Let’s look at some examples throughout the show, starting back in season 4 with the episode “As Fast As She Can”:
In this episode, Stella visits Ted after leaving him at the altar. Ted’s neighbor, Mrs. Matsen, spies on them from her apartment:
This happened after Stella & Ted were no longer a possibility. The old ladies seem to show up at either the very beginning or the very end of each love story that Ted experiences. Let’s move on to the next example.
Next up is Maggie, the ultimate girl next door from the season 5 episode “The Window”. Maggie’s window of availability tends to be extremely limited, so Ted employs her neighbor (I think her name is Betty?) to inform him at the exact moment that Maggie becomes single again. This is ultimately the end of Ted even thinking he has a chance with Maggie.
Incidentally, Barney has an encounter with a different old lady as he tries to fulfill the challenge of getting laid while wearing overalls…
Moving right along! Ted makes the excellent decision to dye his hair blonde in the season 5 episode “Doppelgangers”. While at the salon, Robin comes to him for advice about possibly taking a job in Chicago. Ted admits that he can’t be objective about Robin, which hints at his lingering feelings that are explored again for the bazillionth time in season 7. Anyway, Robin asks if Ted got a manicure, and he tries to deny it, but the older lady next to him laughs and says “he sure did!” Ted, exasperated, exclaims “Flo!” in the exact same tone of voice that a teenager uses when his mom embarrasses him in front of his friends.
Earlier in this episode, Ted explains that he can so totally pull of being blonde. He explains that, the summer he spent as a lifeguard, he washed the mop with some lemon juice, played with the natural highlights…”Let’s just say there were some senior citizens who attempted to ‘drown’ on my watch … and sadly one who did.”
Next up – the return of Mrs. Matsen in the season 6 episode “Oh Honey”. She fills in Marshall on the action between Ted and Zoey after Marshall orchestrates (via phone, from Minnesota) getting these two crazy kids together. I don’t like Ted and Zoey at all but nonetheless this is another old lady at the official start of a new relationship.
I hope you’re not sick of Mrs. Matsen, because we’re about to see her again! This time she encounters Ted and Victoria. This happens at the beginning of their final failed (confirmed by the writers but we haven’t gotten that far in the series yet) relationship attempt. She is accompanied by another nice old lady but I’m not sure who she is. In this episode Mrs. Matsen congratulates Ted and tells her friend “see, I told you he wasn’t gay!”
Now we’re up to the present, where Ted chit chats with an old woman on the bench before FINALLY meeting the mother!! I haven’t been able to access a great screen cap yet (my thanks to Home of the Nutty for all of the others) so this is the clearest I have for the moment:
Three episodes in to season 8 and we have another old lady! Mrs. Buckminster is the nanny that Marshall and Lily try to hire, but she doesn’t quite work out that way. First she is too expensive – which results in her comforting M & L as they cry into her bosum – and then Lily trips about handing the baby over to a virtual stranger.
In the end, Barney hires Mrs. Buckminster (not to be confused with the Mrs. Stinsfire ploy from “The Playbook” in season 5). Barney requests her assistance in stopping his old playboy ways, or at least refining them now that he’s back in the game. Could she represent the end of Barney as a single man? I’m not sure. I hope she sticks around so we can see Ted interact with her…but there’s a catch. Mrs. Buckminster ended up hitting on Barney, so if he took the bait we will likely never see her again. I bid Mrs. Buckminster a fond farewell :)
Soooo what’s the deal with Ted and the older ladies? Is he just a senior citizen magnet? Are the writers purposely including these characters to demonstrate the longevity – or lack thereof – for each of these potential mothers? Inquiring minds want to know…
Other random old ladies in HIMYM:
Barney loses his virginity to a woman that, while perhaps not a senior citizen, is certainly much older than he is – his mom’s friend, Rhonda “The Man-Maker” French.
When Ted tries to teach Barney to drive, he instructs Barney to “Relax, you’re doing great. Ignore the old lady on the Rascal; this isn’t a race.”
Robin “becomes” an old lady near the end of her relationship with Barney (who “becomes” fat while dating her).
This quote from the season 4 episode “Little Minnesota”:
Heather: I moved into your old room. Did you know you can see straight into Mrs. Gatwall’s bedroom across the street?
Ted: Oh, yes. I am aware of that. How’s she looking?
Heather: Ted, she’s sixty-two.
Ted: Answer the question.
Heather: Surprisingly perky.
Miss Cruickshank at the Crumpet Inn (do you enjoy sitting on a bench?) in the episode “Dual Citizenship”. I guess that could maybe be considered the official end of Marshall & Ted time, now that Lily is always in the picture? I’m not sure about that though.
I believe the only other senior citizens we encounter are all relatives – Ted’s parents, Lily’s grandparents, etc. If you have other instances please let me know and I will update!