Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Elderly nudists and other tales from the retirement community

Today was a blog-worthy day. I felt a little like I was on a reality show. You know how they always do out of the ordinary things to spice up the show? ie: on Brooke Hogan's show she went out on a date with a girl as a dare and on Kathie Griffin's show she pretended to be interested in buying a multi-million dollar house but then low-balled it and almost got cussed out by a spicy Latina real estate agent. Stuff like that. Here were my reality show adventures.

I am currently trying to sell my car. I wasn't able to get my title until Monday so my window of opportunity is small. This morning I met up with a couple so they could test drive it. It felt a lot like a blind date. I waited at the gas station on Kirby and 59 where they'd arranged for us to meet. Little did any of us know that there are two Shell gas stations at Kirby and 59, just on opposite sides of the freeway. After we all waited about 15 minutes at different gas stations, we finally figured out the mistake and met up. The couple was super nice, Christian and knew about YWAM. Pretty random. They were looking for a car for their kids since the oldest one was turning 16. We had interesting conversations on the test drive and I really liked them. Unfortunately my car was not right for them. This felt like one of those dates I have been on where the guy is really nice and doing all the right things. We have good conversation and no awkward silences but in the end the spark was not there. Hopefully my next car sale/ blind date will go better.

The even more reality show type stunt occurred later in the day when I went to have dinner with my grandparents. They live in Houston and I have actually seen a lot of them lately since they stayed at my house for over a week looking after my post-operative mom. Well, my grandma looked after her. My grandpa just sat on the couch begging her to make fried chicken or give him ice cream. They really wanted me to come to their retirement community for dinner. They'd been asking me for a while and I kept putting them off because of my busy schedule. Time's running out so I finally consented. I had no idea what I was in store for.

The place they live in is pretty posh. It reminds me a lot of Del Boca Vista on Seinfeld except without the extreme Florida vibe or Jack Klampas and his astronaut pen. My grandparents have their own apartment with a living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The whole complex is made up of internal hallways that connect the rooms and the amenities. You could do pretty much anything without leaving the property, or for that matter going outside. They have a bank, mini-grocery store, library, weight room, beauty salon, dining room and you don't even have to go outside to get to the pool and hot tub because they are indoors.

I had been to their place before but just straight up to their apartment. I'd never met any of their friends or seen much of the facilities. It was quite interesting. My grandma met me in the lobby and took me up to the lounge area outside the dining room. We sat down with a group of their friends who were enjoying Happy Hour. That's right, they have Happy Hour! I was privy to the latest Eagle's Trace (name of the place) gossip. Apparently a new couple has moved in and they are nudists. No kidding! Their comments about these people were just priceless. The rumor mill has it that they've already been seen sans clothing and people are not happy. The primary story is that the man was seen lounging by the pool "as naked as the day he was born." Supposedly someone brought him a towel to cover up with but not before enough people saw him to get the rumors flying. They started talking about how no one should be nude in public in their 80's and that this particular couple was especially unattractive.

I also found out a little bit about my grandparents' group of friends from our socializing during cocktail hour. One of the was a court reporter during the Nazi doctor trials at Nuremberg. I'd read the book she wrote, which was both sad and fascinating. She told me that her book had even been published in Bangladesh. Random. One of the men used to be a commercial pilot but now runs the community's TV station. Apparently it plays music, movies and news from the community. I suggested they do a story on the nudists.

It was so interesting to see my grandparents interacting socially with their own kind. One of the ladies made sure to get extra maraschino cherries in her drink to give to my grandpa. Always a hit with the ladies! He does still have a lot of hair and some of it still black. Their friends were all pretty fun and lively. They talked about how there were some people they didn't like there. It felt a little like high school. My grandma held my hand (which she never does) as we walked around. She was so proud of me and introduced me to everyone who passed and told them I was a missionary. It made me feel really loved.

Dinner was pretty nice. We had a choice of fish, chicken or lamb. I didn't quite understand how it all worked so I tried to follow the lead of my fellow diners. They all seemed to be getting soup, salad, an entree and dessert so I followed suit. I wasn't quite sure how it all worked. My tablemates were all pretty opinionated about the food and apparently filling out the comment cards is quite common and the kitchen really takes their opinions into account. I thought the food was pretty good. At the end, they only gave a bill to my grandparents and it was $17. That was kind of a lot just for me. If I had known the prices, I wouldn't have ordered as much. I was just copying the old people. My grandpa gave me a hard time about it and his friends laughed as they already know he's a tightwad. I offered to pay but my grandma wouldn't let me. I think they have some meal credits saved up from being at my house so long anyway. It's kind of like in college when I would skip meals in the dining hall so I could use the credits to buy random stuff from the store at Jester dormitory. After the meal, everyone was going to go watch Steel Magnolias. I do love that movie but wasn't sure I wanted to stay that long.

I went back to my grandparents' apartment to try to help them with an electronics problem. I am pretty handy at that stuff, at least for a girl. They hadn't been able to get their DVD player to work and thought they had tried everything. My grandma was especially frustrated because she wants to be better with technology but the learning curve is pretty steep when you are in your eighties. I looked at their TV and saw that there was a TV/AV button. I pushed it and voila! The DVD player worked. Then my grandpa only half playfully called my grandma, "stupid." This didn't seem fair since he hadn't known how to fix the problem either. It was humorously easy to fix.

Then I tried to make sure my grandma understood how to use the internet. She has taken a class on it but doesn't really see the need to use it. I want to communicate with them more but they are hard of hearing and kind of awkward on the phone. They don't communicate the way I do, ie: email, facebook. My grandma did have an email account and I was able to send her an old update while I was at their place. Then she said she wanted help using the printer my aunt and uncle had gave them. Luckily the hardware had been installed and the printer had been plugged into the computer. All I had to do was turn it on and press print. Another amusingly simple technological task. It's funny how natural that stuff comes to those of us who grew up with it compared with those who didn't.

Then my grandpa says "What's the channel where you can buy stuff?" He was watching TV so at first I thought he meant the home shopping network or something. Then I realized he was gesturing towards the computer. He said, "A buddy of mine bought a movie projector on one of those." Basically he wanted to know which website to go to in order to buy stuff online. It sounded like he thought there was just one place to buy anything. I didn't want to make him feel dumb even though he'd kind of done that to my grandma. I told them there are a lot of websites but he could try google or craigslist. I don't anticipate them ordering anything anytime soon. I can't imagine how they would get through the check-out process with their credit card.

All in all, it was very fun and amusing. I will definitely try to visit them in their element more when I can. I hear they have wii tournaments. Old people playing wii; now that's something I can get in to.

I am happy my grandparents have a place like this to live and good friends to enrich their lives. Maybe I can convince some friends to move into a place like that with me when we get old. My friend, Jocelyn and I were talking about this recently and how we would own the place; racing in our Rascal scooters and hustling people at shuffleboard. Now that's the life!

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