If you read my last post you know all about my geriatric neighborhood. It is becoming better every day. Over the last few weeks I have witnessed a strange ritual take place here.
We are very lucky to live at a place that has a pool (actually, it was my top priority over dishwasher, working washing machine or intact roof). We are in it about 10 times a day. We usually put the baby down for a nap and my daughter and I jump in the pool. In the afternoon, we are back in the pool. For the last several weeks we have been going to the pool in the evening too. There is a magical hour in our house between about 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm. I am usually trying to finish up dinner, it is hot and my husband isn't home yet. Oh, and by magical, I mean evil. This is the hour that my sweet children are replaced with whiney, screaming little lunatics. This is also the hour that the fish will choose to die, causing great trauma to the 5 year old, the baby will dump an entire box of Life cereal on the living room carpet and roll around in it or someone will get a hold of red acrylic paint and paint the couch, their hands and feet and then run through the house touching all the walls (all of these have really happened). I decided to take the matter into control by plopping everyone in the pool during that time until the evil wears off, or daddy comes home--at which time the evil children are no longer my responsibility.
I gather my kids, the towels, two floaties, two kickboards, the Nemo that swims in pool, the stroller, the swim diapers and walk the mere 25 feet to the pool. The kids pool is always warm and quiet and it is only 4 feet deep. The baby can float and my daughter can touch. The pool on our side of the complex is the "kids pool". One the other side of the complex is the"no kids" pool. I think the old people don't want to be bothered by my kids. I never thought that there would come a day when I didn't want my kids to be bothered by the old people. They may call it the kids pool here, but we have a very different name for it. HAPPY HOUR AT THE SHARONS.
About 5 o'clock on the first day I heard the gate open and saw the oldest man ever carrying a tray over to the pool. He headed towards the lawn chairs, adjusted the umbrella and sat down. He promptly fell asleep w/ his head lolling back and his mouth open. Hmm. My kids and I just ignored him. I figure as long as he is snoring (and therefore breathing) I am not going to worry about it. A few minutes later, another man shows up w/ a bucket of ice and a bottle in his pocket. Soon, doors are opening all over the complex and old people are converging on the pool. ALl of them have a basket of chips or a bottle or glasses. Our complex is normally very, very quiet (except for us). There is no parking allowed on the street or in driveways (only in the garage w/ the door shut). I never see signs of life around here. It can be eery. Suddenly The Sharons is like the book a "Wrinkle in Time." You know the part where you are in a silent neighborhood w/ similar looking houses. At the same time every day, as if drawn by a silent signal, the doors open and children come out of every door, walk to the driveway and bounce a ball. If you sub the chosen generation for children, alcohol and beer nuts for balls and make the silent signal something only people over 60 can hear--you have my neighborhood.
It took me a minute to realize that I have NOT been transported into the geriatric version of "A Wrinkle in Time", it is HAPPY HOUR at the Sharon's (which is how I am starting to affectionately refer to my neighborhood--if I have to live w/ all these street names, I might as well like it). A real live happy hour. I have never seen such a thing in real life--only on TV shows from the 70's. I have always seen the fancy bar sets in places like Crate and Barell and wondered--who buys that stuff? Can't you just use your hands to get ice out of a bowl like every one else? Do you NEED an ice pick? Now I know who buys that stuff. OLD PEOPLE. I think they flock to bar sets like young parents flock to brightly colored plastic toys. None of us wants to fill our house w/ colored toys that talk and light up or overpriced bar sets--it is just a natural progression into the whatever phase of life we happen to be in. It is part of the ritual.
In no time there are about 25 people surrounding the pool. Ice tinkles in glasses, chips are being munched (despite the strict "no eating at the pool" policy every old person made sure I knew about the second my son reached for an animal cracker). People are getting more and more, um, relaxed. Some are sitting in chairs, many are asleep and all I can think about is--what am I going to do if one of these pickled grandpas falls in the pool? Is that why they do it at the KIDS pool, because the chances of a youngish person to give them CPR are greater? All I know is that this happens every night. My sister thinks it is like counting noses. If someone doesn't show up, you know to call and see if they are ok. My husband thinks , and I quote "it takes away the loneliness". My daughter thinks it's not fair that she isn't allowed to eat a PB and J at the pool and these people can--and they don't share. I think that if being old is anything like being a stay at home mom w/ little kids--anything you can do to break up the monotony of the day and give you something to look forward too can't be a bad thing (although I don't recommend mothers use alcohol to beak up the day like our nice but tipsy neighbors do).