November 28, 2009
Today is my third installment of my “Nonchalant Observer” series. On day 22, I observed (judged) what crossed my path as I sat with my coffee on my Brooklyn stoop. On day 38, I took you with me to the happenings of beach life in the surfing town of Hermosa Beach, California. Today, we're crossing the age gap and hitting a retirement community. During happy hour.
My 89 year old grandma Rae recently moved into an assisted living community called “The Palms” of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. My other 89 year old grandmother, Harriet, has lived in a retirement home in Greensboro, North Carolina called Abbotswood for several years so I am not unfamiliar with how life works in these communities. Imagine a dorm furnished like an upscale hotel with indoor pools, salons and people hooking up. I’m tempted to write a nighttime soap opera called “Kabatswood” that documents how steamy it can get during a heated game of bingo and the back handed competition to land the newest widower resident. I want the opening montage to be” The Young and the Restless” theme song with old people making dramatic head turns to the camera in fuzzy lighting. Yesterday, I visited Grandma Rae during happy hour and I knew geriatrics plus alcohol must be documented.
I made detailed notes from 4:00pm-5:00pm on Friday November 27, 2009.
The following is presented in “real” time:
4:01 – Grandma “parks” her walker amongst many others across the hall. I’m thinking there should be a public service announcement commercial with someone like Chuck Norris saying, “Please, elderly people, if you must drink, don’t use your walker.” Then there would be a shooting star and rainbow.
4:04 – Grandma and I grab a corner table and I notice the festive vibe, beautiful mahogany bar and a volunteer on the piano playing “As Time Goes By." Interesting choice.
4:17 – After getting Grandma situated at our table, I go up to the bar to get our drinks. The bartender is a 40 something cute skinny blonde with big hair who looks like she could have been employed at Mel’s Diner. I assume her name is Trixie. Or Wanda. Interesting note, I order a ginger ale for myself and a white wine for my grandmother. I’m no saint...I had just had a Venti Bloody Mary with my mom.
4:20 - One heavily make-uped woman in bright flowing clothes is stumbling across the room with her wine and flirting with disinterested men. Token assisted living floozy?
4:23 – My grandmother might be the nicest person. Ever. She is beautiful, sweet and very southern. She smiles and says hello to everyone. A woman named Helen walks by and Grandma asks her how she is and Helen’s reply was, “Horrible and alone.” Then she told us about her bad knee for 10 minutes.
4:33 – A chatty volunteer (around 60) hears I’m a comedian and sits at our table to test his material. Every joke is done with a Yiddish accent. I don’t remember any of them. But one was about Chinese people.
4:45 – I ask grandma if there are any gentleman that she finds “special.” She surveys the room and tells me, “not interested.”
4:50 – I notice two grandfather types talking at the bar wearing cardigans. Old men love cardigans. One of them is drinking from a 1930’s leather flask. I can’t hear them but I want to assume they’re talking about the war. Not the Gulf War.
4:59 – Grandma tells me in her classy molasses southern accent, “Have ya noticed darlin’… most of the people here are elderly.”