Updated Dec, 19th 2012
SPOILER ALERT: Notes From Someone Who Prematurely Retired
My wife and I accidentally moved into a retirement community in Florida.
How’s that even possible?
We were blinded by a beautiful house, but we never thought to ask to see our neighbor’s birth certificates. (There should be an app for that.)
In retrospect, we probably missed a few obvious clues: 1. This home was in Boca Raton, Florida (a place, according to Seinfeld, “where people go to die”); 2. There was a full bar in the living room (warning: our elders REALLY like to party); 3. The house came with something called a Florida Room (Google it); 4. In our required interview to join the country club the gentleman interrogating us said, “It will be nice to have some young people in the neighborhood.”
Turns out, we were THE youngest people in the neighborhood.
At first, we didn’t realize what we had done. The day we moved in a friendly couple in their 70’s introduced themselves. Burt and Irene. Burt handed me a gallon of Russian vodka (you know, for the bar). I asked how long they had been married. They smiled and said, “We’re not married. We’re living in sin.”
The next day another sweet elderly couple came up and said, “Hello. I don’t think we’ve met. Are you two new here?” Nice, right? That couple has asked us that same question now over seven times.
Our epiphany about our geriatric faux pas (medically known as “youthanization”) came when we were walking our dog and a car slowly rolled by that appeared to have no driver at all. Wha? We reviewed our surroundings with a fresh awareness. Snap zoom to horrified faces, “Holy Grandmother of God, we live in a retirement community!”
We were gob smacked, embarrassed, and . . . because of the real estate market collapse . . . stuck.
Imagine visiting your grandparents . . . forever.
Fortunately, there’s plenty to do (an active lifestyle is encouraged):
There’s golf (apparently it’s Florida state law that you either must learn to play golf or get your real estate license). There’s full-contact mahjong (think: Golden Girls blood sport). At “Casino Night!” you can bet on a horserace shown on a faded 16mm film (after a few years you catch on that horse #6 is a filly with good legs). Also, our post-1970’s pop culture knowledge serves us well on “Trivia Night!”
My biggest surprise: retirees living in these communities love to smoke dope, rock out, have sex, and party late into the … well, actually they wrap it up around 7:30 PM . . . but it can get wild. How wild? A recent scandal involved someone getting kicked out of the community for making porn films. (One shudders to think.)
I've seen the future: nobody realizes they’re old.
Fulfilled cliché’s aside, since prematurely retiring I’ve met delightful people here from all walkers of life, and guess what: they’re happy. Which is comforting to know, because, like so many of my neighbors, I may not be leaving.