February 12, 2009
Would you live in a senior citizen’s home for six months (you would have to eat Jell-o, participate in arts & crafts, singing, super low-impact aerobics and other activities, and you wouldn’t be allowed off the grounds unless you had a pass)?
At first I had some doubts about this dare. I envisioned myself being forced into an adult diaper and strapped to a chair, drooling all the while from strong meds and subsisting on a diet of applesauce and Ensure. Then I realized that the question is merely “Would you live in an old folks’ home?,” not “Would you be held against your will in a horrible old folks’ home?” This really changes everything. What could be a gruesome Dickensian challenge could turn into the opportunity for a comfortable, relaxing six-month vacation. I mean, consider the luxury accommodations a relative of mine enjoyed when he finally had to give up living independently: laundry service, maid service, a specially tailored menu, daily van service for shopping and cultural events, exercise programs, book groups…Really, this is sounding better by the minute. I’d have absolutely no problem with picking an upscale home, settling in for the duration of the dare, and doing fun (relatively speaking) stuff like catching up on unread books, making lanyards and really understanding Pilates. Hell, I could even learn to knit. At the end of my time, I’d come out the other side well rested (and with a big paycheck). Frankly, there are moments when I think I’d do this for nothing just to get a little peace and quiet.
To be honest with you, although I’d definitely say yes to this dare, I wouldn’t be all that psyched about it. Sure, the amenities offered might be pretty good ones, and I’m a real big fan of having other people do things for me, but I think six months of interacting almost solely with the aged would get old (ha! I don’t know how I do it!) pretty fast. This might sound whiny, but I have a feeling I would hate the food – I picture almost everything over boiled and under seasoned and super small portions – and I’m pretty sure they’d never serve sushi or Ethiopian. I think they’d give me a hard time about going out late to, for example, go see bands, and I’m sure they would frown deeply on my frequent requests for passes so I could meet up with all my young friends for Happy Hour. I imagine the entertainment options would, overwhelmingly, be open mic types and caroling Girl Scout troops, and the novelty of these would be short lived. I think I’d enjoy doing the arts and crafts part of it, but I bet the exercise classes – which I’m guessing would mostly be about not causing any heart attacks or breaking any hips – would be kind of useless. And the smell of the entire place would be…you know – although, you’d probably stop noticing after a few weeks. I know I’d make some very nice old friends, but six months of this kind of living would be maddening, really, although I would look forward to screaming “You kids get off my lawn!” to teenage punks up to no good that came near the grounds. So the answer is yes, but I would be counting the days until I could leave the home and get my damn money.