Dateland: Nursing Home Noir
I moved into my father’s retirement home about a month ago. At first, it was heaven! But as the weeks progressed, events at “The Home” have taken a dark turn.
I decided to live in my dad’s condo while he’s in the connected nursing facility. Initially, I thought it was a grand idea. After all, I’ve been a senior citizen in training since my youth. I love doing everything that seniors do! I watch the Turner Classic Movie channel constantly. I yell at kids for running on the sidewalk. And I regularly complain that my soup is cold.
So when I first moved into “The Home,” I looked forward to taking part in many of the activities. I joined a bridge game, volunteered at the weekly rummage sale, and never missed a lecture on how to keep your bowel healthy.
The seniors loved me! At first, I thought they were tickled by my joie de vive and roughish charm. But then I realized that most of them were being nice to me because they thought I was just another intellectually challenged kid who had no other option than to live with her dad. Upon reflection, I couldn’t blame them. What else would explain the alarming gusto a middle-aged woman would employ in belting out World War II era songs at the evening sing-along?
But I didn’t care if they thought I was “challenged.” For a short, glorious time, I was the most popular resident in the building. Yes, I’m sure part of my popularity was because I was one of the few people in the building who could still drive at night and, unlike their own kids, I didn’t lose my patience with them when they asked me for the 100th time to show them “how the Facebook works.”
Each Wednesday is movie night. That’s when they put up a big screen in the recreation room and screen an old Hollywood musical. On my first movie night, they showed an Esther Williams swimtacular that was so delightfully inane I almost didn’t notice when the caregivers brought in a bar cart. Happy hour at The Home!
“I love senior living!” I exclaimed as I refilled my wine glass and clinked glasses with the guy seated next to me, 87-year-old Walter. “Why is everyone so scared to get old? It’s awesome.”
Little did I know that I was sealing my fate with that toast. Walter, it seems, took my enthusiasm as an invitation to come courting. He showed up at my dad’s apartment the next morning and asked if I’d like to do my laundry with him that evening. I innocently accepted, not knowing that this was some old-timey euphemism for something far more sinister.
Word of my date with Walter spread quickly. By the time I made my way to the breakfast room, The Home’s restaurant manager pulled me aside and said that a lot of the ladies were upset about my date with Walter.
“Watch your back,” she warned, giving a sideways glance to a group of women who were discussing my loose character in what they thought was a whisper. However, because they all have hearing problems they were practically shouting. “Whore!” “Trollop!” “Blue stockings!” (I have no idea what that last one meant, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good.)
My social invitations dried up immediately. I showed up at my bridge game and found that I’d been replaced by someone from the Alzheimer’s floor. Even Walter stood me up for our laundry date. “My ladyfriend doesn’t think it’s a good idea,” he said during an awkward encounter where he stared at the ground and shuffled his orthopedic shoes.
I moved out of The Home today. As I left, a gaggle of old mean girls cackled. In response, I performed a series of high kicks. “In your face, ladies!” I cried. “Look who still has her original hips!”