Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll is back with thoughts on GRACIOUS LIVING. She writes:

When we moved from our winter rental in Palm Springs to our new home in Arizona in 2010, we were invited on our very first night to a little get-together of Minnesota snowbirds at the home of John and Angela, long-time friends from back home.

This was a welcome relief as we were basically “camping out” in our new home. Our furniture would not arrive for a week, so John and Angela gave us two plastic patio chairs, and a 12-inch television. We purchased a card table with four chairs that clearly had won a design contest for “most hideously uncomfortable chair ever”. Probably created by a chiropractor hoping for future business. To eat a brief meal was to risk permanent paralysis.

We had arranged to spend the nights in a hotel some 20 miles away. Our Dusty Little Village has only a “virtual” hotel, which is to say, a hotel that has been promised for about seven years. It has yet to appear but surely will at the same time Obamacare “bends the cost curve.”

Minnesotans are notoriously thrifty and the new couple we had just met – Don and Margie – were grievously offended by the thought of our spending six nights in a hotel waiting for our bed to appear. They offered an inflatable queen-sized bed which turned out to be surprisingly adequate. I worried the whole first night about scorpions being able to get on a foot-high bed. Later, of course, I learned that scorpions can get anywhere, including but not limited to, the bathroom vanity drawer. Scorpion in your hairbrush? Surprise!! So you either have to worry all the time or not at all. I’ll take “not at all” for $300, Alex. So far, my Scorpion Score is Ammo Grrrll: 8; Scorpions: Zero. (Stomped, not shot. The HOA and local constabulary frown on gunfire within a dwelling. Plus one word: ricochet.)

Back to the welcoming get-together: It was late January; the patio screen doors were open and people were walking in shirtsleeves on the trail down the greenbelt between the back yards. Let me repeat, Rust Belt denizens: JANUARY! A lazy ceiling fan was turning, and, inspired by good bourbon and good company, Mr. Ammo Grrrll exulted, “Boy, this is really Gracious Living! I’ve only seen gatherings this gracious in fancy magazines!”

And so began a tradition, soon shortened to GL.

It takes remarkably little to have a wonderful time. People squander fortunes on expensive “toys,” elaborate vacations, pathetic status symbols. When we send out the emails to gather for GL, we are looking at some thrown-together cheese and crackers (cheese and matzo this week), chips and dips, and drinks on the patio with fun, funny, easy-going people. Before you can say “flash mob”, the emails have done their job and the Geezer-Americans begin to walk and bike toward the designated patio. Dress ranges from jeans and gun-themed t-shirts to shorts and sports-themed t-shirts. Except for Mr. Ammo Grrrll, dapper in his Dress Black Sweatpants. We have all lived far too long to try to impress each other. Which is too bad in a way because many people would have impressive tales if they felt like bragging.

We catch each other up on good news and sad; on grandchildren and elder care. Those that still have them talk about their jobs; those without them discuss golf scores, a paddle and net game called pickleball that swept the Sun Belt a few years ago, politics, and cholesterol tests; we help each other try to remember the titles of movies we have seen as recently as the day before yesterday. (“You know that one about the Seals with the guy who was also in a boy band?”) We recommend TV series we have enjoyed on Netflix. Justified, Longmire, Lilyhammer, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad are particular favorites among our friends, though I personally have not seen the latter two.

In many ways, the late 50s, 60s, 70s remind me of being a kid. Remember how easy it was to make a friend when you were a kid? Basically, a kid showed up, started kicking a can around in your presence or throwing a ball in the air, and before you knew it, you were playing together. Stand around with a bottle of beer near Gracious Living, and you will be invited in.

Ammo Grrrll, are you saying this is The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius? Sadly, no. You still have your jerks who believe the HOA rules are Holy Writ: “And God spake to the Hebrews and the mixed multitude as well and said, ‘there shalt be only this type of chicken wire around the plants that the bunnies eat, and not the other type of wire. I know not why, but I have spake. Also, no little wooden burros except in the back. Orange ceramic pigs – fair enough; but little wooden burros shalt thee not have, nay not one.’” The HOA tattlers are the same people who were room monitors when Teacher left the room. I loathed tattlers as a kid, and still do.

But they are easily avoided. So, young people, fear not your senior years. As the late, great Will Rogers said, “One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.” On this first night of Passover, may we all have a year of good health and Gracious Living. Next year in Jerusalem. And A Very Happy Easter to our Christian readers and friends.

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