Friday, December 17, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 9 - Visitors

If you do visit Florida, one week you want to avoid going to Harbor View or any other development, for that matter, is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Not only because it is when all of the tourists come and the airfares are at their highest, but because it is the only time that Harbor View (and similar developments, I’m sure) appears to be a summer camp for children, rather than a retirement community. Everyone’s children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and even friends of nieces and nephews, who are off from school, come to visit that week. If you want to come to Florida to relax, then Christmas week is not the time to do it. There are kids splashing in the pool; there is noise from the children in the neighboring apartments; and there are long waits at all of the restaurants. (Of course there are always long waits at restaurants, but they are even longer during Christmas week.)

The other difference during Christmas week is that The Characters are usually on their best behavior. Sure they do the expected bragging to their friends and neighbors, or anyone who will listen, about their son ‘the dentist’ and their granddaughter the ‘third-grade genius.’ But because they have guests, they don’t seem to talk unkindly about each other as much as they do during the regular season. And overall, the residents seem just a little more ordinary.

So even though I now bring a child with me when I visit Mom and Dad, I try to make sure we go later in the winter, because I just don’t think you can get a true taste of Harbor View during Christmas week. “No,” I decide for certain later, after hearing Mom tell me yet another story of some of The Characters’ antics during the regular season, “going during Christmas week just wouldn’t be worth it.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 8 - Visitors

Another favorite pastime of Mom and Dad’s and other residents of Harbor View, it seems, is watching the weather on the news – not to see the forecast of South Florida. Oh no, they want to see what awful weather they are missing back home. Chilly and mid-30’s back home? My parents are happy. A blustery cold with chance of snow flurries? Mom and Dad are beaming. A few inches of snow back in Pennsylvania? My parents are absolutely giddy. And the more and more footage they show on the news of the blowing wind, the snow falling down, tires spinning in the snow, people shoveling their driveways, and the lines inside the supermarkets, the happier they are.

And it doesn’t matter that I live in the DC area where the weather is currently sunny and dry, if it’s snowing “Up North” it must be snowing near where I live. We’ll walk over to my parents’ friends’ home, and Mom’s friend will comment, “You must be glad you came down here this week – you’re missing all that snow.”

“Um, I don’t think it snowed in DC this week. It’s up in the New York and Pennsyvlania area.”

“Well, I heard it’s going to be all over “up north” in the next few days. It’s best if you stay down here.”

“Umm sure,” I reply. Yet, when I look at the forecast later, it clearly says mid-40s for the whole week in DC.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 7 - Visitors

One pastime Dad and Mom love to do with me when I visit them in Florida is to point out everyone’s age. Dad especially enjoys this. He boasts about it like it’s some kind of accomplishment.

“See that man over there?” he says to me one day at the pool, “He’s 85. Doesn’t he look no more than 70?”

“Well, it’s hard for me to tell, Dad,” I say.

“And you know my friend Harold? He’s 77. He still plays tennis every day – sometimes twice a day,” Dad brags.

“That’s impressive,” I reply.

“And there’s an absolutely adorable couple who live next door to Flo and Irv. He’s 84 and she’s 81. They go out almost every night to dinner, and he’s still driving,” Mom chimes in.

“They sound adorable,” I say, although I cannot picture an old couple that I would describe as ‘adorable.’

“And that nice man who lives downstairs from us,” Mom continues, “He’s got himself a girlfriend.”

“Wouldn’t that be ladyfriend, Mom? I bet she’s at least 75,” I ask.

“Actually, she’s 88. And he calls her his girlfriend,” Mom answers.