FLORIDAYS #4: This, that and the other thing!
We’ve been vacationing at the in-laws Retirement Park (Saddlebag Lake Park) for over 20 years now. We’ve discovered that retirement park living is a life on its own, very reminiscent of life on another planet. Think about it, populate over 1000 homes with feisty set-in-there-ways senior citizens, throw in a bunch of rules and regulations and bingo – you have Grey Power Armageddon. Once you are inside those gates things can get really interesting. You can take this to the bank, because Grumpy is now a card carrying, pension collecting old fart that has an opinion about just about everything.
Just ask him!
Here are a few observations about trailer park life in sunny Florida.
The Coconut Telegraph and the Hot Tub Time Machine
There are two things that are as real as rain in Florida Retirement Parks: gossip and controversy. Grumpy compares this phenomenon to Jimmy Buffett’s “Coconut Telegraph” or the children’s popular game called Telephone. Get a rumour started or drop a tidbit of controversial gossip and it spreads through the park faster than a Florida wildfire.
Of course, each and every rendition is added upon by the communicator (based on empirical evidence), with a lot of personal opinion thrown in, until many mountains are constructed out of mole hills.
This causes every word you speak and every action you complete to be put under park scrutiny. In this regard, you must watch your “P’s and Q’s” and be sure that park rules (either assumed or written down) are followed to the letter. Otherwise, your words or actions are not unlike “poking a hornet’s nest with a stick” when it comes to Park social interaction.
As you walk through the park you might find conclaves of conferring couples exchanging the latest bits of chin-wagging chatter in soft whispered tones. However, because of hearing loss, these conversations are most likely to be loud and easily discernable.
“They can’t do that!”
“Someone has got to do something about this.”
“I heard that Bob plans to build one, too!”
Grumpy has discovered that the best source of park bafflegab is the hot tub at the pool. This 12+ seater is like the CNN of Saddlebag news-dom. Slide yourself in there with a gaggle of residents and you get the Reader’s Digest view of everything going on in the park.
All you need to do is sit and listen.
The ladies seem to share their “guarded” information either poolside or in the water. Of course, the notorious “Coffee Klatch” makes a Park Newspaper totally out-of-date and obsolete.
Visitors to the Park, like the Grumpy’s, must be cognizant of their behavior because anything untoward would spread through the community like the flu. This may cause embarrassment and angry stares to be cast upon your relatives, the ones that actually hold property there.
Here are a couple of faux pas that must be avoided.
1. Carry a flashlight at night whilst walking.
2. Don’t let your kids be loud or splash water in the pool.
3. Walk on the proper side of the road.
4. Lights out and be quiet after 9 pm.
5. Don’t forget to wave when passed by a person, golf cart or motor vehicle.
6. No getting jiggy at the pool with your spouse. No getting jiggy all week.
7. Drive your motor vehicle at 15 mph despite residents roaring around in golf carts and mopeds like the park is a Grand Prix racetrack.
8. Never slather suntan lotion on your same sex buddy because you will surely be labelled as a person who has switched teams.
9. Speak only when you are spoken to and remember that you have no opinion that really counts. Comply with all requests from residents. Remember your place in the pecking order and never “poke” the bear.
10. Dress appropriately and keep all the naughty bits covered even if your naughty bits are still worth exposing.
There you have it. Knowing all of this will keep you out of the “Coconut Telegraph” gossip pipeline and make your holiday nothing but fun in the sun.
The Latest Controversy
Every time we visit the park there seems to be a current controversy buzzing around the double-wides. This year it involved the placement of a new double-wide home.
The builder had dropped the two pieces on the lot with what appeared to be a deck on the front side. The builder had forgot to follow, as outlined in guideline #9 above, that you don’t poke the bear.
The controversy involved many dynamics.
1. What is the definition of a deck as opposed to a porch? Could this deck really just be a big porch? Or is it a deck? Apparently, unlike other aspects in life, size matters in this situation.
2. The same sex couple building the home wanted their bedroom to be at the back. The residents are up in arms because if they turn the trailer around – now the bedroom will be at the front. According to gossip this would be just disgusting. The Duck Dynasty boy’s, especially Phil, would be proud of the resistance movement here, I’m sure.(The infamous Corinthians Paraphrase Quote)
3. Many residents when they put in their new homes were not allowed to put a deck at the front. Now they don’t want anyone else to have that privilege. A tour of the park will find large “porches” on many fronts, porches that really are decks – a few are even screened in.
4. Misery loves company, so even if this doesn’t affect a resident directly, most people are dead against this or have an opinion because they want to be part of the swarm as opposed to be the focus of the buzz.
Grumpy really has no opinion other than, something that improves the park and possibly increases the value of your own property, should probably be welcomed. And, he also knows that sexual preference has nothing to do with porches or decks.
What he finds amazing is that wherever he went and whomever he talked to this topic inevitably came up. He is sure that he heard everyone’s view several times over: loudly and with adamant hand gestures included. As days went on, these opinions became stronger and brasher. After all, several community “Town Halls” were being well attended. The buzz” was becoming a “roar”.
The lesson learned is all of this is, if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, “Keep your nose clean in retirement parks. Toe-the-line and never poke the bear!”
We’ll have to see how all of this turns out.
Golf Cart NASCAR
Last but not least, Grumpy would like to press the case for new driving rules in retirement parks. Motor vehicles are required to move at 15 mph, which is about as slow as you can go without stalling your big internal combustion gas guzzler. Walkers pass you by with ease, even though you aren’t even in a School Zone.
Should you deviate from this norm and travel faster, you will at the very least be chastised by “the look” or be given the single-finger salute. If, by chance, there is an Official Sherriff’s Office Golf Cart patrol in the vicinity, manned by two octogenarian’ deputies, you might find yourself in further hot water.
“Pull over, buster.”
However, when it comes to golf carts, mopeds and bicycles these speed rules seem to not apply. Some people have “pimped” out their gas powered golf carts to resemble race cars and sports utility vehicles. These people drive them as if the trails of Saddlebag Lake are a NASCAR Track.
One guy zipped past our trailer at about 45 mph. His creation was bright yellow fiberglass and resembled a 1940’s Roadster.
“Hey, buddy, slow the heck down, you moron!”
Grumpy has been nearly been impaled by seniors roaring by on their pedal bicycles, some of which are super powered bicycle’s built for two.
“What the . . . .?”
And, the bikers in the park, those of mopeds and motorcycles, often roar past you as if they’re driving drag bikes. Grumpy half expects them to yell, “Yee Haw!” upon their passing.
INSERT SINGLE FINGER SALUTE HERE!
Grumpy knows that his very own Uncle can hardly wait until he can remove the “speed governor” on his new gas cart in a year’s time.
So, in parting, Grumpy would like start a game of “telephone” with the residents of Saddlebag Lake Park. Let’s get the ball rolling, folks.
“Somebody’s got to do something about these speeding golf carts, bikes and mopeds.”
PASS IT ON!