Saturday, July 6, 2013

My Village Vacation Part 2: Wisdom of the Water Walking Ladies and Pool Noodle Men

One of my favorite parts of vacationing at the Village is going to the adult only pool.  Any mom would find this a luxury!  By the way, in a retirement community like this one, adult means over the age of 30!

Each village has a community pool.  There is also a themed recreation center in each village where you can take a class, hang out and gather, host a party, play pickle ball, tennis, billiards, basketball, shuffleboard, bocce and more.  The family pools are meant for visitors and their children and are avoided like the plague by villagers whose grandchildren are not visiting.  The adult only pools are all different in size, shape and landscaping.  One even has a hot tub grotto and waterfall!  Sometimes there is entertainment at the pool and a bar for your enjoyment.  There are also a few sports pools, which are as you would expect a sports pool to be.  Meant for lap swimming and water sports, they are the only type of pool not available to a guest of the Villages at all.

The very first time I went to an adult pool here at the Villages, I was quite amused.  In sharp contrast to the family pool with the noise, swimming, splashing and crowd, the adult pool was quite reserved.  Sun worship is alive and well in the over 55 set!  Their lounge chairs angled toward the sun and rotated regularly.  Their skin tanned to excess.  I suspect dermatology is a lucrative profession down here.

They spend a lot of time in the water.  The temperature in the summer is easily in the 90's most days and the water is probably 85-90 degrees as well.  It's heated in the winter and the pools are open year-round.  There has been a lot of rain the past week.  I heard several ladies comment on how all the rain cooled the pool off so it was 'brisk'.  In case you were wondering, I don't go in the water unless it's over 80 degrees and 'brisk' was probably about 82!  Mornings are by far the most popular times for the ladies.  The men tend to show up in the early afternoon, presumably after golf.  Some couples come together.  Some singles come to scope out possibilities for a date.  Yes, I've watched them flirt and even try to pick up a fellow water walker!

Family Pool

The Water Walking Ladies at the Adult Pool

As a PT, I love that at least some of the pools have handicap access.  There is a lift chair that can be used for those who cannot safely use the wide, shallow stairs to enter the water.  I also love that so many villagers who need to use an assistive device to walk, slowly make their way to the water, and once in, take advantage of it's properties to walk, float, exercise and strengthen themselves.

Pool noodles are very popular.  Many are fashioned into a seat of sorts.  Instead of swimming, however, there is a lot of water walking, 'exercise' with water weights (the ladies tend to move their arms around and chit-chat rather than actually exercise effectively with them), and floating with their noodles and gossiping.  While you might expect this to be a trend with women, men participate equally in the pool rituals.  They tend to congregate in the 'deep' end (5 feet deep) and float with their noodles in a circle, sun hats on, and share their stories and gossip, too!

It's difficult not to laugh when listening to some of their conversations.  In case you were wondering what our concerns might be when we are enjoying our retirement, I thought I'd share some of their insight and wisdom, as gleaned from the Calumet Grove pool over the past week.

From the ladies, I learned that there is discrimination in pricing for single ladies.  If you go to (didn't catch the name of the store) without a man, they charge you more!  It happened to her neighbor!  This sparked quite a spirited conversation among the ladies!  Wal-Mart is dangerous at night cautions one.  It's open 24 hours here.  Then one saw a baby frog.  There was speculation as to where it came from.  One lady said it was a 'rain frog' and got 'stuck' at the pool since the rain last night.  The consensus was it was cute.

One of the ladies was doing a modified 'fly' with her water weights while bouncing up and down.  This bouncing seems to be popular as some form of aerobic exercise.  She said, "this motion doesn't do anything for you."  Another lady in the circle was quick to reply.  Indignantly saying, "It burns 240 calories!".  I chuckled.  There is NO way what I was observing did anything particularly effective and certainly didn't burn 240 calories in an hour.  Next thing I knew, the conversation moved on to shopping and coupons.  One could get whiplash trying to follow a conversation at the pool!  There was much debate over the use of coupons and limited days and times to redeem them.  One inquired how the concept of spending $50 to get $10 off works, yet they all agreed they do it.  By the way, this is a great way to pick up some accessories!  One lady got a purse, sweatsuit and a bracelet and boasted how her husband was proud of her for saving money!

This led to questions about her husband.  Who does he golf with?  How often does he golf?  Is he coming to the pool?  Are you going to the square?  As the husband talk continued, I hopped into the pool as I was getting hot.  The lone man in the pool, probably in his early 70's was doing his water walking. He passed me and asked, "Is it ladies day at the pool?  I'm the only man."  As if I knew!  We chatted and then a couple entered the gate.  He said, "Oh, good.  Another man.  The gravitated toward each other like magnets.  The second man's wife scolded him, "Hold on to the ledge!".  He was older and more frail and walked with a cane on land.  She was eager to join the other ladies but was clearly watching him like a hawk.  I hopped back out and retreated to my chair to observe some more.

On another day, as I was walking down the stairs into the water, a sweet little elderly lady was making her way into the water.  She felt compelled to just start telling me all manner of things.  Her pool was closed.  She was glad it rained, since it cooled the water off significantly.  ( I swear, their inner temperature gauges are skewed.)  She was glad she came in the morning, since it always rains in the afternoon and she misses her water walking.  Well, that's Florida for ya, she tells me.

Another group of ladies were going on about food and recipes.  The ladies tend to talk about shopping, food and gossip about the people of their neighborhoods.  Some of them are quite flirtatious.  I learned many ways to cook eggplant!

The ladies bring pop-up hampers full of their pool toys.  Noodles, water weights, water shoes, hats and more.  They often have big sunglasses and floppy hats or visors.  I did not see a single person apply sunscreen that was not a visitor.  Although many pool goers seemed to know each other, they befriend each other quite quickly and easily and share their opinions, stories and woes quite readily.

I find the pool noodle men the most amusing.  They are flirtatious in their own right.  At times, it's like watching animals preen and parade around trying to find a mate with the added bonus of who has the best tip on where to have an early bird dinner, the best happy hour 2 for 1 drinks or who has the best joint replacement recovery story.  On my observation day I learned that if you put anything out on the curb, it's gone the next day.  Why a neighbor put out a hot water heater and it was gone by the morning!  Some guy probably sells it another replied.  One fellow had a knee replacement a month ago.  He was in the hospital one night and went home.  That PT was in there 4 hours after the surgery!  (As a PT, I'm impressed by this).  Dr. Wynn. He does the best knee around!  He boasted about his 105 degrees of flexion.  Another fellow chimes in, "Well, I had my knee done yesterday!"  It took a while before they realized he was kidding.  They debated the benefits of pool therapy and golf with knee replacements.  They agreed hip replacements were harder to recover from. Probably because none of them had one. It progressed to, "It's a little known fact you need 3 nights in the hospital to go to rehab, that's why they send you home".  They chatted about how many therapy sessions they got or didn't get an why. Another one says, "It's because of Obamacare".  Then they chatted about the new clinic.  What's the deal?  Is it like the one at Colony, because theirs is fantastic?  No one knows how you get in.  Yep, you guessed it.  The consensus was the clinic was mysterious because of Obamacare.  Let me tell you, down here, everything is blamed on Obamacare!  I forget that the South has a different perspective than us liberal folks in MA!  I was SOOOOO tempted to put in my two cents.  I know more about joint replacement, rehab and healthcare than they do, they were incorrect, at least in part, with their assumptions, and I desperately wanted to infiltrate their circle, but I was so enjoying the banter.

The conversation drifted back to joint replacements.  "Did you have the test to see if you are allergic to metal?"  Apparently, depending on what lab the test was at, they had to pay to send the blood to be tested and sent out for reading themselves.  One man paid $22 and another paid $91.  Can you guess why?  Yep.  Obamacare!  I was literally laughing out loud to myself by now!  Then, a woman infiltrated the circle!  She said she was allergic to nickel.  If she wore cheap earrings, her post holes dripped!  They looked at her horrified but had a spirited discussion about surgical incisions and allergies for a bit.  Then, out of the blue, she says, "I had cataract surgery. It's like someone washed the world!"  They entertained her, but didn't really welcome her.  She tried to participate in the conversation, but eventually bounced off to resume her water walking at the female end of the pool.

Somehow, the conversation turned to discuss the wealth of the developer of the Villages.  Oh, right, he contributes a significant sum of money to the Republican party.  They lamented it was all for naught, since their 'guy' didn't get 'in'.  They whined Hillary Clinton might be the next president and off they went again on all that is wrong with the country is because of Obama.  In case you were wondering, they believe it's because they didn't dig deep enough to expose his 'dirty laundry' before he was elected.  I was getting a good ab workout from these guys and I hadn't left my lounge chair!

Then, they were on to discussing wild drinking parties in Virginia, Fat Daddies was the place to go when they were young, the ladies from Virginia said it was where the coal miners went.  They went skinny dipping.  A man said, "Mmmmm, good place to get me some tender vittles."  OMG, you can't make this stuff up!

I tried to go to the adult pool for at least an hour or two a day.  Partially to get some quiet sun and relaxation time and partially because I love listening to the cares and woes of my parents' peers.  It wasn't all about my 'research', though. I actually got some pleasure reading in!  THAT was a miracle in it's own right!  I napped. I meditated.  I charged my solar batteries because it's a well known fact that I am solar powered.  :-)

I am home now.  I very much enjoyed the time in the Villages with my family.  It's nice to see the concept of a well-lived retirement is alive and well.  It's great to see people active, engaged and having fun in their middle and later years.  It's great to see they still seek romance, bargains and exercise.  It makes me long to retire.

Oh, right.  Back to reality.

If you ever get the chance, swing by the Villages.  Even just to drive through or take in the entertainment at the town square.  Anyone can.  I promise, you won't be sorry!


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