Monday, August 13, 2012

My Day in Paradise

We all look forward to that day when we can take the exit ramp from the rat race and coast into a blissful retirement. A time when our day is filled with trips to exotic places and leisure time spent with our loving children and grandchildren. Of course by the time you get to that exit ramp most of those plans are set aside because you are too busy with everything that you have to do now that you are retired. I’m not talking about all of those big projects like painting the house which you postponed until retirement, because now that you have the time getting on a ladder is impossible unless you are looking for a large insurance settlement. No – I’m talking about all of those simple little tasks like mowing the lawn or shopping for groceries. Of course I really love grocery shopping because I amuse myself as I cruise through the aisles randomly dropping products into the shopping carts of people who I think could use these products. My favorite is finding the person who has filled their cart with mountains of high fiber, low calorie, organic foods and dropping in a jar of Cheese Whiz.

But there are other simple tasks that seem to morph into major projects, like my recent attempt to water the lawn. Now watering the lawn doesn’t require a lot of skill, essentially it only requires placing the sprinkler on the lawn and turning the water on. But yesterday I turned the water on and noticed the hose connector to the sprinkler was leaking. I immediately got out my knife to cut off the end of the hose so I could replace it with a shiny new one. But senior citizens are a little forgetful and what I forgot was turning off the water BEFORE performing major hose surgery. Water gushes out soaking my pants leaving the impression that I might want to consider purchasing some “Depends”. Once I turned the water off and removed the end of the hose – only cutting myself once, I was ready to install the new connector. The connector was in one of those new plastic theft proof packages that require a sledge hammer or acetylene torch to penetrate. I did finally get the connector free – cutting myself the second time – and was ready for the installation – once I loosened the screws, which had been installed with super glue. Nevertheless I did get them loose cutting myself for the third time – except this time there was enough blood to warrant a CSI investigation. But I press on hampered only slightly by the band-aids and bandage, and eventually getting the new connector installed and the hose connected. I turn the water on and VOILA!! Water is squirting from the new connector with enough force and volume to wet me once again from top to bottom giving the impression that I am in the midst of a Depends crisis. I turned the water off (I learn fast) disconnected the offending hose, deposited it in the trash and installed a new hose straight from the store – leaky hose problem solved!! .

One of the major issues facing you in retirement is how to amuse your self once you tire of the Cheese-Whiz gambit. We see on television all of those wonderful retirement communities filled with senior citizens filling their time with exercise and blooming with the health that the average twenty year old would love to have. These advertisements promise a social life filled friends playing tennis and golf in between sailing in your own yacht and catching record breaking marlin. Well some people believe there’s a free lunch too, but the social circle for most retirees consists of bank clerks, the pharmacist, and a variety of doctors – with a couple that are on speed dial. So I don’t know where those senior citizens – as seen on TV – live and play but I strongly suspect they are photo-shopped twenty-something models. Just look at their waists, perfect teeth, tanned bodies and with hair in all of the ‘RIGHT” places. Real seniors have hair in all of the wrong places and haven’t seen a 30 inch waist in decades.

But there are some bright sides to retirement – in sort of a weird way. As we age our vision begins to play tricks on us. That is you see signs that you misread which can lead to some very funny times. For example something flashed across my TV screen that said “…dedicated heroism” except I read “… dedicated heroin” or on FaceBook the posting read “touch a hamster” but I read “touch a teamster” – the brain does pay tricks. So when I noticed a sign that said – in large bold letters – COOK WANTED. I laughed and said to my wife “Did you see that sign?” I think I’ll apply. She rolled her eyes, snickered and said “forgettaaboutit – it’s hard work and I don’t think you’re up for it!!. This ability to communicate is just one of life’s blessings that comes with age.

While retirement has many blessings there are some downsides, for example you lose your cutting edge with current culture and ability to communicate with the young. Recently I stopped into a Starbucks coffee shop for a cup of coffee but that turned out to be a humiliating experience because I hadn’t studied and wasn’t prepared for the test. I didn’t know how to order because I didn’t know that there was a process. . First you have to stand in a certain place to order and a special place to pick up your order – these instructions were administered in a style I that I associated with Nazi like precision. Once I moved to the “order station” I found you cannot just order a cup of coffee because there is a quiz. First you are asked what bean do you want? Very odd question which I failed because the only beans I know are baked or refried. Wrong answer – so the semi-friendly waitress (whom I’m sure was a Hitler Youth commandant) moved on to question two which was “the roast”. “I want coffee” was clearly the wrong answer once again because the young lady (silently named Brunhilda) moved on to the final question which was “whatsizedoyouwant”. With as much dignity as I had remaining I said “small” knowing that I would at least get one question right! Wrong again!! Brunhilda was no longer even talking she just pointed to a series of code words and since the only word I recognize is ‘Grande” I ended with enough coffee and caffeine to power the space shuttle. Later one of my young friends tells me that Starbucks doesn’t have waitresses they are called Baristas. I was amazed because I thought a Barista was a Guatemalan revolutionary.

So my next project for cultural enlightenment is to find out what a Kardashian is? That’s for my next report from paradise.

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