I moved into a 55+ condominium after my wife died. Nice place. I’m in a quiet courtyard with eight other units surrounding a tiny patch of grass. A guy also named Joe lives directly across from me. I like to think we guard the drawbridge for the six widows in the remaining units in our castle-keep. I’m not sure who we’re guarding these ladies from. And actually, the more I think about it, I might need to be guarded from them. I keep getting presents from them. Think — your cat dropping off mice at your doorstep. Casseroles, cookies, potted begonia plants on the stoop. There’s something new practically every day. In some ways it feels kind of nice to be so noticed and appreciated. But then I remembered a joke.
A lady of a certain age, wandering past the reception desk in a Catskill hotel, spots a newcomer. A man. She stops to engage him in conversation.
“So, you’re new here,” she begins, “where are you coming from?”
The man chuckles, “Prison.”
“How long were you there?” she pries.
He furls his brow. “Twenty years.”
“And why were you in prison?” the lady continues, eyes fluttering innocently.
“I murdered my wife.”
“Oh, so you’re single.”
Reminds me to not feel flattered considering the male/female demographics of us seniors. It’s probably more about ‘supply and demand’ learned so long ago in college. There aren’t many knights in the castle grounds at our age and it’s not our rusty armor that’s creaking. Still, it’s not all bad to be noticed. Maybe the ladies are just being friendly with a new neighbor. That’s sweet. Or maybe I’m a fourth for canasta. Or someone to call on to change a light bulb. Who knows what the draw is beyond the excitement of a new neighbor who wears pants?
So, I enjoy the attention…to a point. Because as often as not, along with chip dip, I also get lots of instructions on ‘how we do things around here.’ Who knew you should crush boxes for the trash containers to conserve space for all the others? And all trash has to be in bags not just dumped in loose. And of course, (this one is logical) you can’t just leave your port in the communal garage open in case you’re going to go out later. Ha! New place. New rules. I’m the new kid in the classroom.
Retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe Novara lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, a memoir and various poems, plays, anthologies and articles. In, Pinata Belly, and other tales of later love, Novara reminds of the limits and ultimate hope for online dating sites.