Tag Archives: Whisky

The Exclusive Club at the Retirement Home

From our first week here in the retirement home I’ve noticed an exclusive clique that meets regularly and secretly. They gather in the far corner of the coffee lounge, talk a lot but shut their mouths the moment anyone comes close to their circle. Retired members of the secret service, I thought excitedly. I wonder if I could waylay one of them, ply him or her with whisky and get an exciting story for my blog, a plot for a thriller, a script for a movie…

Yesterday I bumped one of them in the elevator and invited him in for a drink. He took 2 sips of whisky and started to talk. I had a tough time getting him to stop. It’s not what I thought, but they are an elite crowd, all right – nonagenarian drivers! These few men and one woman hold regular meetings where they discuss their driving, ask each other for advice on how to renew their mostly un-renewable licenses, make it through the eye test and exchange stories of their conquests on the roads.

When I finally managed to get a word in, I told the guy that I’m interested in becoming a member.

“How old are you?” he asked.

“Eighty-one,” I replied.

“Come back in nine years, sonny! I’m not even supposed to talk to you yet! Say, do you want to come with me? I’m just popping down to the mall to pick up shoes I left for repair. And you can help me into my car.”

He needs help getting into his car but then he’s going to drive it?

His car is old, rusty and battered. “There were a lot of concrete columns in the last place I lived. Not worth fixing,” he muttered, pointing his cane at the bodywork.

With much groaning I got him behind the wheel and I went around to the passenger side. He fired up the engine and backed out slowly. He made a complicated 8-point maneuver to get the car out of its parking slot and then zoomed out into the traffic without a glance in the mirror. Cars racing down the street swerved and hooted and a couple sent messages with their fists and fingers.

“Everyone is so impatient these days,” he muttered. “They shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car at all.”

A pizza boy on a motor scooter shot into the road and my driver swerved towards him. “That’s the third time I’ve missed that guy this week,” he said. “I’ll get him one of these days.”

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The Oscars Come To the Retirement Home

It’s panic night here at the retirement home. Someone, who has to remain nameless, downloaded copies of a dozen movies and guess what – they all ended up in different categories in the Oscar Awards this week. Downloading movies is a definite no-no so the minute disc-on-key device that is moving at the speed of light from one apartment to another is much sought after. Two days after Oscar night, the entire disc will be out of date, the movies discussed, hacked to pieces by this discerning crowd of Golden Aged movie critics and forgotten.

Meantime, the main objective of every resident is to get one’s hand on the disc for the least possible amount of time and make copies of the movies one wants to see, meaning all of them. There are a few minor problems in this. The average age here is 80, so the computer operators are all between 75 and 90 with quite a few in their mid-nineties. The first problem is finding the switch on the computer. Once that’s been accomplished and the screen is glowing in anticipation, one has to remember exactly where one hid the disc-on-key thingy the last time the great-grandchildren came to visit.

The second obstacle is locating my glasses which are always on my head when I don’t need them. Finally I am confronted by the microscopic disc-on-key and the almost invisible matching slot in the computer. By the time I’ve got everything together the crotchety old guy from the fifth floor who is next on the borrow-list is banging on the door. I hit the ‘enter’ key and start the copying process. “Too bad!” I smile at him, let him in and pour him a whisky to dull the edge of his impatience. “It’s out of my hands. My computer is almost as old as me and steam operated!”

We have 6 great movies to watch, enough to get us through the next couple of weeks. But I‘ll have to buy another bottle of whisky tomorrow.


Life in the Retirement Home Involves Tough Decision Making

Before we moved in some 2 years ago I thought that life in a retirement home would be smooth and seamless. No major speed bumps and few potholes to contend with. It’s not like that at all. Each day comes along with its own problems.

Take last Thursday, for instance. I woke with a feeling of guilt – I hadn’t posted a blog for a couple of weeks, the editor was probably sitting with her hand on the phone, about to call and fire me. I rushed through the shower, by-passed the shave but lingered over the coffee while I wrote a new blog article in my mind.

In the study, I cranked up the computer and leaned back while it coughed and gagged its way through its start-up routine. At that moment my eye caught sight of the painting I am working on and I noticed that the main character’s eyes are too close together, giving him a village-idiot look. Decision required – fix it or not? I reached for a brush – there are about 30 lying all over the study table – dabbed it in a glob of yesterday’s paint and started. Moving eyes is no small matter. They are followed closely by eyebrows, wrinkles, shadows and other accessories.

As I threw the brush back into the bottle of grey-brown-green water that stands permanently on the desk, I sneaked a look at his face again. Darn, look at that long upper lip. It’s going to mean a huge shadow under his nose. Decision required – fix it or not? I picked up another brush and carefully began to move his mouth up a fraction. Halfway through the exercise I felt I needed a cup of tea to steady my hand. That’s the whisky we drank the evening before when we celebrated the birthday of the lady on the 5th floor, I reasoned. No more drinking if I’m painting the next morning. I finally repaired the lips, added back the two lines dropping from the corners of his mouth – this is a retirement home so we all have those – fixed the shadow and dropped the brush into the water.

Back to my blog. It is now 12:30. I think I have to add more grey hairs around the temples. The blog? It’s too late now, I’ve missed the early morning edition, the midday has just hit the streets and no one reads papers in the afternoon. I’ll attend to that blog tomorrow. Promise.


How Long Do I Have To Wait For Old Age To Start?

When do Golden Agers make the leap into Old Agers? I’ve been here in the retirement home for over a year and so far I have met very few proper old people. It is true that most of the residents have 70 or 80 or 90 birthdays behind them but that’s not what makes them old. The old ones have gone, left for some other place. The people here are busy in the gym, in the exercise classes and the swimming pool. They are arguing over books in the library and eagerly awaiting the latest publications, they are slavering over the cakes at the monthly sale and elbowing their way to the front so they get their hands on the rich chocolate cakes. Are these all signs of old age?

You should see these people at the card tables playing killer bridge and canasta, showing no mercy to their opponents. That’s not the behavior of an old age crowd. True, many of them use walking aids, metal or human, but that too is only a sign of a frail body and has no connection to our perception of old age.

Ask any one of them how old they feel and you will be stunned at the answers: “Somewhere in the upper 60’s!”

“Hell, who can remember what 60 felt like?”

“How old do I feel? I can’t feel very much anymore! Did you bring a bottle of whisky with you?”

“I am getting old, but it’s pretty slow…”

“Sorry, I’m a bit deaf. Can you repeat the question?”

“I’m 86 but I’m not old.”

“Yeah, my back is shot and I walk all bent, but my head is still straight and working just fine. Have you seen my glasses?”

Who says we’re old here?


How Long Do I Have To Wait For Old Age To Start?

When do Golden Agers move into Old Agers? I’ve been here in the retirement home for just over a year and so far I have met very few proper old people. It is true that most of the residents have 70 or 80 or 90 birthdays behind them but that’s not what makes them old. The old ones have gone, left for some other place. The people here are busy in the gym, in the exercise classes and the swimming pool. They are arguing over books in the library and eagerly awaiting the latest publications, they are slavering over the cakes at the monthly sale and elbowing their way to the front so they get their hands on the rich chocolate cakes. Are these all signs of old age?

You should see these people at the card tables playing killer bridge and canasta, showing no mercy to their opponents. That’s not the behavior of the old age crowd. True, many of them use walking aids, metal or human, but that too is only a sign of a frail body and has no connection to our perception of old age.

Ask any one of them how old they feel and you will be stunned at the answers: “Somewhere in the upper 60’s!”

“Hell, who can remember what 60 felt like?”

“How old do I feel? I can’t feel very much anymore! Did you bring a bottle of whisky with you?”

“I am getting old, but it’s pretty slow…”

“Sorry, I’m a bit deaf. Can you repeat the question?”

“I’m 86 but I’m not old.”

“Yeah, my back is shot and I walk all bent, but my head is still straight and working just fine. Have you seen my glasses?”

Who says we’re old here?


Speechless at the Retirement Home

This place is about one third men and two thirds women so men don’t often feature in day-to-day events. This morning was different. I had to go to the clinic for some health- related paperwork and when I walked in I found the waiting room full – of men. A most unusual sight. We all greeted each other heartily and inquired after the health of each other’s whisky supply. We arranged to meet later at Sid’s place – he has a half bottle of Black Label left over from some function.

Then one of the men announced, “I’m here to lodge a complaint with the nurse.”

“What’s wrong with you? I asked

“It’s not me; it’s my wife, Betty. She’s speaking in a low murmur.”

“That’s funny! Mine does that too,” mused Sam sitting opposite me.

“You guys are lucky,” said Bob. “I can hardly hear mine at all.”

“Me too,” said John. “My wife has gone completely silent.”

“Must be some kind of virus going around here,” said Phil, who used to be a pharmacist and knows all about these things. “In fact,” he continued, “I’ve never come across so many quiet-talking women before.”

“Yeah, I wish mine would speak up. I can’t hear a thing she says,” said Jimmy. We all looked at him with um…, pity. “She has to ask me 6 times what I would like for lunch. I remember when she could speak clearly. I could hear very word back then. Strange how the virus is only affecting the women. Guess viruses are scared of men.”

The nurse here at the clinic is in for a rough time. There are about 150 women in this place and none of them can speak clearly.

 


The Elusive Mr. Sleep Doesn’t Call Here Any More

Seniors have problems with sleep. When I look out the windows in the dark hours I see lights on in many of the apartments here in the retirement home. I also see the glimmering of TV sets as the golden agers surf the channels hoping to find a movie that will send them off, even if it’s on the couch. That’s not how the TV or the sleep systems work. Only afternoon or early evening movies send one to sleep. Late night movies keep you awake.

The subject of sleep and seniors is so popular that the AARP issued a short list of tips to help us on our way to dreamland:

Use a sound machine to mask outside noises. This may be especially helpful for those in assisted living or other senior care settings.

Get the TV out of the bedroom, or at least turn it off an hour before going to sleep. Experts say the bright lights, sounds and images flickering across the screen trick your brain into staying awake and the nightmare-inducing crime dramas and news reports that are on late at night aren’t much help for relaxing into peaceful sleep either.

Dedicate the bedroom for sleep. If it would help, get new sheets, pillows and comforters that are warm and cozy, that you look forward to snuggling under at night.

Use an eye mask to block light – and improve your focus on the task at hand.

None of the above work. Whisky and sleeping pills work much better, but not taken together.


Could I Order a Whisky and Milk in the Retirement Home?

If this retirement home had a serious bar, I would be able to push my way through the crowd, bang on the counter and say in a loud voice, “Barman, one double scotch and milk please! No ice!” No one would turn around to see who ordered such a strange drink and the barman wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Grandfather was a scotch man. Actually, first he was a Lithuanian, then he was an Irishman, then he was a South African and then he discovered the pleasures of good scotch. One evening back in 1950 I stopped at his house on the way home from lectures and found him pouring himself a double. “You’ve arrived just in time, my boy. I hate drinking alone. But you’re still a little young for this so you’ll have yours with milk.” It became a ritual. Once or twice a week I would pop in to see him and we had a whisky together. Mine was always with milk. No ice.

I started to work as a junior in an engineering office and occasionally all the juniors would call in at a bar after work on the way to the bus station. We all drank beer, the younger man’s drink, I suppose, or was it because we couldn’t afford scotch? One day there was huge rush in the office to finish a job and the boss asked us all to stay late and work. It was over by about 10pm and to reward us, he invited us to join him at the bar for a drink.

We gathered around the counter and the boss said, “Barman, pour these young fellows whatever they order, the tab’s on me!” When the barman looked at me for my order I said loudly, “A double scotch with milk please! No ice!” There was a deafening silence followed by shrieks of laughter. “He ordered what??” I was mortified. It took me a long time to live that down. Funny thing is, I quite liked the drink.