Senior Moments: Spring Break

Given the proliferation of Florida pictures in my Facebook feed, it’s become apparent that it’s currently Spring Break season. In the words of the immortal Matt Foley, a la Chris Farley, “Whoop-deefrickin-doo!”

My apologies to those enjoying sunshine and relaxation, but until a mandatory Spring Break for working adults is implemented, I will continue to carry a slight chip on my shoulder.

Oh wait, that’s just part of a pita chip. I really shouldn’t eat those on the couch.

Anyway, my point is this got me thinking about Spring Breaks of the past. When I was in elementary school we often went down to Florida to visit my grandparents, and I’ve already recounted the tale of eight grade Abby and her best friend going down to stay with those grandparents at their condo for 10 days.


I was basically a child genius.

In case you don’t want to click over—although I would advise that you do if you want a good chuckle—we spent the trip riding three-wheeled bicycles to the community pool, narrowly avoided both food poisoning and elderly binge drinkers while dreaming of a trip to the beach that turned out to be less than expected.

But a couple years later I went back to Florida to spend Easter with my grandma, as it was the first Easter she would celebrate after my grandpa passed away.

Unlike the first trip, it rained almost every day and instead of spending time sunning myself at the pool, I made the 20 minute drive to the only mall within 100 miles to use a tanning bed so I could at least return home looking less miserable than I felt.

However, a large chuck of time was once again spent cleaning large Ziploc bags full of ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments—“free condiments!”—out of the freezer, among other mysterious things.

Now if you’ve never spent time as the youngest person in a retirement community, I feel the need to prepare you for your adventure.

Geriatric Girls Gone Wild

Elderly women often marinate in perfume and get their thinning hair styled and set into old lady Afros once a week at the beauty shop, tipping “the young girl” of 55 at least $1 each time. Old men with shorts pulled up to their nipples will smell of flea market cologne and stylishly wear white socks with balls on the back with their sandals. If the temperatures dip below 60 degrees, all will be outfitted with earmuffs and gloves.

Yard decorations, a year-round staple, will take on a festive Easter feel, and passive aggressive signs of a dog pooping with a big “X” over said pile of crap will be replaced with trees decorated with massive plastic eggs, pastel lights and plastic flamingos wearing bunny years.

Dinner at the clubhouse will bring to mind memories of middle school in which the women gossip and men talk about their upcoming athletic pursuits, be it a shuffleboard tournament or landing a 7-lb fish. If you’re single, this will become the point of conversation and condemnation as each yenta tells you how perfect you are for their 60-year-old single Jewish son who has most of his hair and part of his hearing.

Members will make sure to eat their fill—they paid $10 for the meal, after all—and then stuff whatever they can into napkins to take back to their condos for later. This not only includes food, but often silverware, sugar packets and toothpicks.

Speaking of food, you might return back to the condo one blazing hot afternoon to find a picnic basket on the front porch—in the sun—from your grandma’s best friend down the street. This picnic basket might contain potato salad and leftover prime rib.

You might have a horrified look on your face as your grandma deems it her supper for later, as she believes once meat is cooked, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can left out until it’s either consumed or disintegrates.

You might just be lucky to make it out alive, older—but still the youngest around—and hopefully just a bit wiser.

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18 responses to “Senior Moments: Spring Break

  1. Mr. Eva and I are on the waiting list to move into a retirement community about 20 miles from here. Thanks for the preview of the life we can expect!!

  2. As a poor newlywed, I lived in an apartment complex in North Miami Beach. where in my 20’s the next people closest to our age left a 45 year gap. It was still more fun than having my 4 kids home on spring break last week while trying to finish my book. I was elated to send them all to school today!

  3. Pita chips are the new potato chips. Just wanted to share that with you. Funny post!

  4. Please kill me first!!

  5. *sigh* I wish this was where Dad was right now. most of the … “community” where he is just stares at you when you smile and say hello. the nurses provide good conversation, however. and one lady across the hall from Dad’s always yells hello to me, and tells me how nice I look today. it’s something 😉

    I have ALWAYS treasured our elderly… even as a child I loved to sit with my great grandparents and hear their stories. I am so happy I have always had that perspective.

    • Yeah. This was about 13 or 14 years ago, and as you know, Gram is now in a similar place where no one can really talk or understand anything. Yet it’s still nice to see them smile when they do 🙂

  6. I was the youngest of all the family/cousins and seems like EVERYONE was ancient. So visited nursing/retirement homes my whole life. Luckily, these were in small towns and were clean, bright, and safe.
    One 90 yr old uncle was still driving the mule to town on Sat., chopping firewood, and cut down a tree so big my dad couldn’t reach around – I don’t remember running water or electricity. Finally that couple moved to a home when the younger wife was blind and found it hard to cook….so that one was settled, but then the next one…
    Did I mention the family lives over 100 – so you have to find a place that offers entertainment and with multiple levels of care. And we have been so lucky.
    But you are so right about the hair and men’s shorts up high.
    And don’t forget bingo! (One of my uncles started out visiting and calling out numbers as a volunteer – he’s a bingo player now at 101
    Please let us all be as alert mentally and in as good shape as these guys. Life can be good when old – but it helps to keep a sense of humor and laugh

  7. when my late father-in-law was in an assisted living place, I envied some of the food, and most of the conversation.

    That picture of you in the sand is precious. Why it isn’t your profile picture EVERYWHERE is beyond me.

    I can’t wait to be that age, playing bingo, and gossiping with you and the Bobina. Hilarious post

  8. When I learned that Syphilis was on the rise in Florida retirement communities, I’ve never fully recovered. Join me.

  9. Maybe this is why old people are so skinny; they eat meat that’s been sitting in the sun all day. Hmm…maybe that can be a new diet for this girl. I’ll keep you posted.

    Please tell me you ate the pita chip on your shoulder. You know what? I don’t even need you to answer that for me. I know you did. it’s one of the many reasons we get along.

    And the photo of you as a child with your head in the sand is perfection. I am actually headed to Florida in the morning for a few days to get some fresh air, and perhaps i will do my own rendition of that photo.

    You’re such an inspiration.

  10. Sounds like good times, Abby! I love that photo of you–so sweet.

  11. So how old do I have to get before you come visit me?

  12. I’m not looking forward to a retirement home, if I ever get there

    • Retirement homes are MUCH different than retirement communities though. The communities are full of condos and pools and golf games. Really not so bad, when you think about it!

  13. I am hysterical laughing, Abby. I used to spend Spring Break with my grandparents in Florida too. And you completely nailed the experience!

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