Yesterday evening, after another exhausting day here at the retirement home, I dropped onto the couch for my after-dinner nap. I grabbed the remote and began surfing, looking for entertainment to while away the dark hours. “As usual,” I grumbled, “nothing to watch.” Channel after channel – bad news and worse news or basketball, snooker and soccer. What entertainment there was, is now all shooting mixed with car chases, more shooting and wrecking cars in the most diabolical fashion imaginable. And then, right in the middle of all the violence, a flickering black and white movie introduced by a moth-eaten lion. “Arsenic and Old Lace”. I reached for the chocolate and settled deeper into the couch.
Of course I had seen it before, long, long ago, but there is still magic in its old-fashioned actors, acting and technology. Everything about it is ‘olde worlde’ charming. I wondered if I would have to stand up for God Save the King at the end.
My wife walked in and sat down, watched for a couple of minutes and said, “What on earth are you watching?”
“Arsenic and Old Lace,” I replied.
“Gee! What year was this made?”
“That’s 70 years ago! You’re watching a movie made 70 years ago? What’s the matter with you?”
“How many years?”
I was 11 years old in 1944. I’m pretty sure that my mother never took her 11 year old son to see a movie called Arsenic and Old Lace in the year it was released but I probably saw it a year or two later and I have probably seem it a few times since then. It’s still a great movie.
It just goes to prove: Some things never age – they just get older.
The chair exercise class in the retirement home often provides some great entertainment. When 30 or 40 would-be body-builders of average age 80 get together to exercise you can bet on a good laugh somewhere in the room. The instructor, a slim, athletic woman, does every exercise herself so that the class can see and follow the movements. So ‘arms horizontal’ means arms go everywhere except horizontally. Likewise, every exercise is interpreted differently by every exerciser. Confusion between right and left limbs is common.
I sat at the back the other day, did the exercises and watched the proceedings. It was hard to believe that there was someone demonstrating the movements at all… Then came the noise of a creaking chair. The sturdy chairs are made of a dense plastic with an attached seat. They are heavy chairs and built for heavy-duty use – and there are a few ‘heavies’ in the class. The chair in front of me developed a creak as the woman in it, who I recognized from the third floor, moved. The creak came in perfect time with her movements.
She looked puzzled for a while, frowning as though trying to determine where the creak was coming from. Finally the penny dropped – her own chair. She apologized and continued exercising, from time to time turning to smile to those sitting near to her. The class ended, we all stood up, thankful that the torture was over, and filed out.
I decided to take the stairs one floor up to the lounge for a much needed cup of coffee. There was that noise again, behind me this time. I glanced back and there she was, creaking each time she raised her foot to the next step. I knew all along that the chair wasn’t creaking…