Lemon County: Nursing Home Humor...
Nursing Home Humor
Our local newspaper, the Lemon County Register, reported today that data showed average life expectancy in Lemon County is four years higher than the US average. This led me, naturally, to having a bit of a laugh at the expense of old people.
I know, I know, making fun of old people is really mean, but there is a narrow vein of humor there to be mined for those with a severe lack of good taste…
I recently spent the day with my ninety-three year old mother in law, on the occasion of her birthday, and witnessed a game I had never seen before. It is a big deal, and has it’s parallels in childhood when every child has to announce to any adult in the vicinity, “I’m this many”, while holding a couple of booger covered fingers in your face. The elderly, at least those marbles intactus, play this with each other, and don’t care so much about outsiders.
The opening bid is usually something like, “I’m seventy eight next March.”
Which is countered and raised by a greater number, or evidence of lack of infirmity, such as, “I’m coming up on eighty,” or, “Seventy six with all my teeth.”
The actual octogenarians in the room then up the ante, and the possible wild card of how many grandchildren you have, might get thrown in. Great grandchildren are like the ace in the hole. Teeth, eyesight, ambulatory condition (none, cane, walker, wheelchair, bed) can provide a royal flush. Diaper free and still using a knife and fork, especially in your nineties can truly be a winning hand. However, they don’t play with the Centurions, you get to 100, all bets are off, and you are the undisputed King or Queen. There is nothing left to prove. You won.
At stake is personal pride. In a place where the food appears to have been pre-chewed for you, anything resembling independence is treasured. You don’t have to be that old to get that. I also realize that teens and those in their twenties can’t distinguish between me and the truly old, so, just for the record, I’m fifty-three, got most of my teeth and can walk unaided. My mental state is, I accept, questionable, but I know that Ike is not the current President and that my birthday is in December.
I also have an un-bucket list. Things I never want to experience before I kick it. The first is that I never want to sit in a room with my family, a nurse or two, a social worker and a physical therapist, all discussing my bowel movements. Really don’t want that. I’d like to keep that to myself for as long as possible. Now I know people who could find the humor in that (Stana , Sueb , yes I’m talking about you), but I lack their particular skill set.
But farting needs to be discussed. I have come to realize that old people have to stay as still as possible because the slightest movement trips the hair-trigger gas expulsion mechanism. Walking with a walker is particularly interesting. Push walker forward, step one, toot, step two, toot, rest, repeat. You have to wonder where it all comes from? Do your lungs leak as you age? Do you stop breathing out perhaps? Is it the pre-masticated food? Enquiring minds want to know…
And it appears to be relatively odor free. I know smelly. I worked for many years in middle schools. Seventh and eighth grade boys in the afternoon, especially if the lunch consisted of beef and bean burritos, could collectively strip the paint from the walls. I would watch through tear stained eyes as the ceiling tiles curled up and fell to the floor, the sound of self-congratulatory laughter ringing in my ears, as I rushed forward, handkerchief pressed tightly to my nose, to move as many of the girls as I could to a place of safety.
Help, however, is at hand for our aging farters, as both their sense of smell and hearing seem, for the most part, compromised. So life goes on, blissfully unaware of so much that seems to bother younger folks. That seems karmicly fair in a way, a balancing out of the yin and yang.
I believe there is another game afoot.
You know how when you were a kid, your toys all came out and played when you weren’t there? Well, I think there might be some of that with the elderly. They act all old and helpless when we are around, but revert to situation normal when we are gone. Every now and then you spot the cracks. Like when you are talking softly at their bedside and you think they are asleep, and they mumble, without opening their eyes, “there’s no way you’re putting me in a home if you want to inherit.”
Or they are sitting in their chair taking a postprandial nap and you casually mention money to your wife. Instantly the sleeper awakes, and fully alert, gives you a lecture on the Roth IRA versus the traditional IRA. They are also the only people on the planet who understand Parts A, B, C, and D of Medicare, and can wax lyrical on the donut hole, before nodding off again and drooling gently from the side of their mouth.
If you can get someone else to do stuff for you, why wouldn’t you? That’s just human nature. There are times when I really don’t want to get out of bed to pee. Cooking, cleaning, all that drudgery, you start to see what is going on here, right?
I’m not fully convinced that this is not just a ploy to make us annoying younger people just go away. I mean, you are supposed to get wisdom with age. What if we are seriously being played here? What if all this daytime napping is just recovering from the wild parties that take place at night?
I can see it now. You set off a couple of bed alarms to get the nursing assistants running around like crazy people, then sneak out to the social room, lock the door, bring whatever meds you have left over and share a Nyquil punch. Then wind up the Glen Miller and party like there’s no tomorrow, because, well there might not be…
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