It was a nice neighborhood until those people moved in. Now you can’t even swim in the pool. By four in the afternoon, they’re all sitting around drinking Corona, smoking pot, and blasting their awful music. Oh, and the language! I used to love swimming in that pool when I was little. Now, I’m not sure I want my kids anywhere near it.
Seriously, the retirement park has gone to the birds since all the boomers moved in.
When my grandparents died, my mom and dad inherited their double-wide in this park near Sarasota. From what I remember growing up, it was a lot like the retirement park in Seinfeld, only with old WASPs instead of old Jews. There wasn’t as much shouting. Everything else was the same though. There were lots of pastel sweaters and Bermuda shorts. The old dears would spend all day pruning their grapefruit trees. The old fellas were breaking things and fixing them over and over. The women gossiped; the men pretended not to listen. Most of the grandpas had served in World War Two or Korea (mine did tours in both). Most of the grandmothers had been stay-at-home moms.
Everyone knew each other. Everyone smiled.
Now, according to my parents, every day after lunch the old guys pack coolers full of Corona, grab their Bose speakers, and sit around the pool smoking their “medical” marijuana. They’re fatter, too, and their clothes are a lot tighter. It’s basically what you’d expect from a small village full of aging hippies. Which is what it is.
Hey, at least it’s not The Villages. I’m sure you’ve heard of that cesspit, and I’m sure you wish you hadn’t. At thirty-four square miles, The Villages is the world’s largest retirement community. Residents enjoy three things: drinking, swinging and Donald Trump. Yes, it’s disgusting. It’s disturbing. But it’s the only way for a true baby boomer to live out his golden years.
I don’t mean for this to be another “boomers ruin everything” kind of article, but…they kind of do, don’t they? Even old people. Boomers are ruining old people.
I know everyone rebels against his parents and idealizes his grandparents. It’s part of growing up. (Seriously, my parents are great.) With the boomers, though, it’s different.
When I think of retirees, I still think of folks who grew up during the Great Depression. Old people are supposed to feel like the Queen of England whenever they step into a Chinese buffet. They’re supposed to watch the same M*A*S*H reruns and listen to the same Sinatra B-sides for forty years without getting sick of them. They’re in bed by 8:30 so they can get up to Heavenly Donuts at 4 a.m. for coffee with all their old-man friends. When Romney ran against Obama in 2012, they felt spoiled for choice.
I spent ten years trying to show my grandfather how to use the same exact iPhone. It’s truly amazing how poorly the Greatest Generation adapted to new technology. It shouldn’t even be possible. My grandfather could tell you how to get from Boston to Halifax turn for turn, right off the top of his head. Yet he couldn’t find Google Maps, and it was on his home screen.
Honestly, I loved helping him. I loved that he couldn’t be helped. I loved that his brain was so full of useful, old-man things that it literally couldn’t fit any Space Age bullshit.
Now that our parents are getting up there in years, we’re having the opposite problem. Boomers adapted way too much to technology, and they did so in the least endearing way.
For example, boomers invented the move where you walk around Walmart talking on speakerphone. It’s not more convenient for you, because you still have to hold the phone up to your head. It’s actually less convenient for the boomer on the other end of the line, because he’s getting all the background Walmart noise. And, of course, it’s extremely annoying for your fellow shoppers, who don’t want to listen you and your buddy Doug talk about Tulsi Gabbard’s cameo on Ice Road Truckers.
I don’t get it. Maybe it’s some kind of power move. Maybe they do it because it’s rude.
That’s another thing. My kids are going to grow up thinking that old people are nasty. Gone is the eggshell-white Cadillac! Gone is the maroon Town Car with the superfluous vinyl roof! Today, old men drive big-booty Tacomas with extremely clever, highly original “Let’s Go Brandon” stickers. Who wants to spend their last years on earth angry and mean?
Normal cultures have a special role for the elderly. In India, old people devote themselves to spiritual enlightenment and service to the poor. But America’s culture is far from normal. Here, Chuck just throws Karen on the pontoon, smokes a couple doobs, and blasts Kid Rock’s “We the People.” And hey! If he lives in The Villages, he can have a whole harem full of Karens. That’s progress.
Boomers, you need to grow up.
But they won’t grow up. That’s why, when their kids have kids, they give themselves inane titles like “granddude” instead of something more dignified like grandpa or pops. As Lester Holt, a self-professed granddude, explains, “‘Grand’ bows to the fact that I’m older, but ‘dude’ says, ‘I still got a little bit. I still got a little,’ you know?” Sorry, man, but you don’t. Not even a little.
It’s not your fault, though, Lester. Yours was the first generation to have a real “youth culture.” Like every other baby boomer, you grew up thinking old people only like golf and prune juice. Then you hit the big six-o and, to your surprise, you didn’t sprout ear hair and Velcro shoes. You think that makes you young. It doesn’t. Your youth is gone. But you still have a life. And, believe me, you’d rather spend it being a grandpa than pretending to be a granddude.
Think of the Countess from Puskin’s story “The Queen of Spades.” (You’ve read it, haven’t you, Lester?) At eighty years old, she still goes out to all the dances, wearing the same dresses she wore as a debutante. It’s a double dose of pathos: not only is this old lady dressed like a teenager, but the styles are also sixty years out of date. She’s spent most of her life living in the past.
But when the Countess slips out of her ballgown and into her nightgown, the soldier who’s secretly watching her change (it’s a weird story) thinks to himself, “In this attire, more suitable to her age, she seemed less hideous and revolting.”
Bear that in mind, dear boomers. Nothing draws more attention to your age than refusing to act it.