From the Inside Out
I think I may have drifted into electronic overload. My fingers no longer cope with the small buttons on cellphones and those other new-fangled gadgets. My mind no longer grasps the fact that sometimes you have to right-click on the mouse, and my eyes refuse to focus on a font under size 14.
To counter all these difficulties I have set up my own personal help-desk system and staffed it with grandchildren – the old folks’ last resort in times of electronic need. Grand-children are born knowing everything. I recently spent three entire days trying to capture a picture from one of these artist’s presentations that comes in the e-mail. To no avail. I tried everything, ‘save all’, ‘left-click’, ‘right-click’, ‘file as’ and any other combination of electronic commands that I could think of. The computer screen glared at me and remained unmoved....
Ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind, only to completely forget what that purpose was? Turns out, doors themselves are to blame for these strange memory lapses. Psychologists at the University of Notre Dame have discovered that passing through a doorway triggers what’s known as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, separating one set of thoughts and memories from the next. Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room and prepares a blank slate for the new locale.
And all the time I thought it was me… It’s the stupid door!
Ever since we moved into the retirement home, some 6 months now, I have noticed an exclusive clique that meets regularly. They gather in the far corner of the coffee lounge and shut their mouths the moment anyone comes close to where they are sitting. Yesterday I stumbled across the answer – 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 licenses and exchange stories of their adventures and conquests on the roads.
I approached the one man that I recognized and suggested that I may be interested in becoming a member.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“A few months short of eighty,” I replied.
“Come back in ten years, sonny! I can’t even 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.”
I looked at him in amazement. He needs help getting into his car but then....
Remember all those books that you promised yourself you would read one day when you had time? Well, I just found a whole stash, an entire room-full. In the library of the retirement home. Shelves and shelves of books standing patiently waiting to be read. All neatly cataloged, sorted, cleaned and placed in strict alphabetical order. A book lover’s treasure house – as exciting as an old-fashioned secondhand bookshop.
Either the residents bring their book collections with them when they move in, or perhaps people dump boxes of unwanted books on the doorstep, who knows? Every book probably has its own story, and every one is available for....
Some time ago I wrote that the administration of this retirement home had asked the art group to produce paintings that they could hang in the waiting room of the office section. “It’s the area where potential residents wait for the sales staff to attend to them so make the paintings friendly…”
I pondered and searched for not only a suitable subject – my idea of a nude was short-lived – but a dramatic statement, one like, “even us old folks can make you sit up and notice” and a few days ago I had a Eureka moment when I stumbled on a picture of a wild horse. Not one wild horse, three! This has to be an idea that only a demented man could come up with at age 79.5! Who in their right mind would think about painting a horse? What Sunday afternoon painter who specializes in calm seascapes and flat landscapes would undertake anything as complicated as painting a horse, perhaps the most complicated of all animals? Horses are full of muscles, tendons and veins, knobbly knees and sharp hooves, shiny coats and wild eyes.
You’re right; I guess I may have reached it, the nuttiness of old age, the last wild....
Sleep and lack of it is a popular coffee-lounge conversation in the retirement home. It takes me back to sleepless nights caused by business worries in rat-race days. Now I have sleepless nights for no reason at all. Occasionally I give myself a treat and pop half a sleeping pill but I hate the things and I am afraid of becoming addicted.
On Monday night I opened an eye and saw the time: 1:13. No point in going on with this, I thought and went to lie on the couch in the living room and tried to read. About half an hour later I thought I heard voices in the corridor outside our apartment. I opened the door, peeked out and saw my neighbors Morris and Dave disappearing around the corner. I grabbed a dressing gown and went after them.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “It’s almost 2 am!”
“Can’t sleep. We’re going downstairs to play table-tennis. Wanna come?”
I didn’t bother to answer. The table-tennis table is in a room off the gym.
There were a few people standing around and a game was in progress. I looked around and saw a home-made scoring ladder on the wall. At the top of the ladder was another neighbor of mine, Sarah. She only has one eye and recently had a hip replacement job which has returned her to 100 percent mobility. I looked around and there she was, leaning against the wall. She saw me, smiled and....