An Old Coot can kill a conversation

An internal GPS mechanism in your body turns on and begins to urge you to a warmer climate when you get your first Social Security check. (Of course, you don’t get an actual check; you get an invisible deposit to your bank account, but the effect is the same.) Some people are strong; they resist the pull, but not me. I migrate with a flock of snowbirds to Florida when frigid weather comes to town. It doesn’t matter where you go: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or some other warm place, you end up surrounded by people just like me. OLD!

My wife Marcia and I stay at a small place on the ocean with an eclectic group of snowbirds. (Don’t fret; we did it on the cheap!) It’s like being with family after all these years together. We gather on the pool deck at 4 p.m. Some call it cocktail hour, others say its high tea, but no matter your beverage of choice, there is always a clump of us hanging out at the appointed hour. Early in the season, the conversation is about the perils encountered on the journey south: snowdrifts in Ohio, fog in the hills of Pennsylvania, traffic jams on Route 95, that sort of thing. 

Travel talk is soon replaced with “medical” talk. I look forward to this phase; I learn more about the human body than a medical student taking an Anatomy and Physiology class. Need advice on rotator cuffs – ACL and other knee issues – hip replacement complications – heart stents – urinary and digestive track problems – gallstones – foot neuropathy? This is the place to get it. Everyday topics, like weather in Florida versus weather back home, high and low tide times; rockets scheduled for launch at Cape Canaveral are covered as well. 

Every possible topic is eventually covered and discarded. It got so bad this year we ended the season in a discussion on underwear – men’s underwear to be specific. I have no idea, who, or how, it got going; I wasn’t paying attention; I’d drifted off in a mental journey back in time, but my attention came to life when Phyllis commented about someone who had 22 pairs of jockey shorts. “Twenty-two,” I yelled, coming out of my stupor. “That’s not enough to get through a month without doing the wash! Ha, Ha” 

From there, the conversation took on a life of its own. Someone, it must have been Phyllis again, said, “I saw George in the laundry room folding his wash, but not his Jockeys; he just threw them in a pile. After he saw me doing a double fold of Keith’s underwear, he started folding his. But, only in a single fold.” A folding discussion, pros and cons, ensued until someone commented that “Rick” (who was back home in Massachusetts by then, and not there to defend himself) rolls his. He rolls everything, T-shirts, shorts, socks, etc. On and on went the conversation, until someone brought up the subject of men’s thongs. That’s when someone jumped up (probably me), and yelled, “What are we doing here? Men’s underwear, now thongs? Please, can we just move on?” But we couldn’t. We had nothing left to talk about. We sat there in silence, sipping our drinks, feeling depleted. I wonder what’s left to talk about next year?

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