The brand is Over-55 Living. Its chief attributes are safety, convenience and cheerfulness. The price is determined on a sliding scale. And right now the brand is under moderate competition as new Over-55 Living complexes are sprouting up like Topsy. Therefore, the leasing agents et al. are so sugary sweet that those who still have a brain could perceive it all as condescending and become insulted. In fact, when one agent showed me around I thought she was going to tie a red ribbon in my hair the way they do in nursing homes and the residents wind up looking like something in a poodle show.
How I got myself in Geezerville is how everyone here got in: A sad circumstance. My apartment complex went from pet-friendly to pet-free. This is the usual step on the the way to try to sell it and I take great glee that in this market the owner will never be able to do that. Plus, there's an urban legend that the place is infested with mold. With insurance companies so skittish these days, mold is going to scare any possible buyer off.
On a local TV channel there was an overly pleasant ad for this version of Over-55 Living. The sliding scale ended way below what I was paying at my place. What the heck, call and see if they allow pets. They did. They somehow got me to "just look.
The look wasn't as scary or downbeat as I had expected. The tour guide stressed that the place was for those who could take care of themselves - i.e. walkies/talkies. The apartments were larger than my present one. No ambulances were blaring to carry away those who had just croaked. The few fems with the big rouge blotches and horse choppers were upbeat and, clearly told us, their dance card was full.
I filled out an application, which included producing an original copy of my birth certificate, of course. No spring chicken was going to slip by them. I had second, third thoughts before they even called me with a "wonderful apartment." This must occur all the time because the agent started out the conversation with, "If you are still interested." If the apartment were in all-ages housing, it would have been classified as the penthouse and rented at $3000. I was impressed. Yesyesyes.
Two days later the agent said she made a mistake and that particular unit is only open for the 62 and older. "Are you 62?" Since she had seen my birth certificate she had to know that I was not 62 or older. Had I answered yes would I have had the penthouse?
The place I did get was way up but not that way up. And, when they told me that I would have to have a responsible local adult to sign a paper indicating they would care for my pet if I went to the happy hunting ground, I said to myself and my old college chum Rebecca Tarumoto, "I made the biggest mistake of my life." That was confirmed when the agent then told me angrily that I had not provided a photo of the pet for their file. And that did it. I called the big muckty muck and, in my Harvard Law School tone, listed my grievances.
Of course, that cooked my goose in Geezerville where everyone is compliant. The powers-that-be stiffen when they see me. But, as Tarumoto puts it, "You're saving money. Case closed." For $622, I get a large apartment with balcony, all utilities including cable, paid. I snapped back at Tarumoto, "after that money is saved, I'm out of here." The upside is that with all that money being saved I can afford to hustle less for corporate writing assignments and work on my own book.
The informal rules quickly manifest themselves. Don't ask anyone how they are. They will tell you, as if the record needle got stuck (my image from yesteryear). Don't bang doors after 8:00 P.M. since many residents are already sleeping. Don't let anyone know you have wheels since they don't. Don't give an opinion either way on Bingo as a leisure activity.
When Nora Ephron's mother Phoebe was dying she told her bereft daughter, "Everything is copy." That's how I'm treating my stay in Geezerville. My first article will be on the guy with the pacemaker who has a horrific reputation as a cad with the ladies. Wonder if he got anyone in the complex pregnant.