Precisely what’s so scary about my scary age

August 9, 2010

The story of my guest appearance on the Suze Orman show

August 9, 2010

We CAN go back to college, we just have to wait 50-or-so years

August 9, 2010
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My Aunt Philly is an age that she’d be mad if I told you. Let’s just say it rhymes with lady dive…

Last week she moved into what’s know in local television commercials as a “full service retirement community.” This is not to be confused a gated, adult community (just a neighborhood with no kids) or an assisted living center (the now PC term for nursing home). This is Applewood Manor.

It’s sort of like a suburban club med for old people who could live on their own but are generally safer with some mild supervision and regulation flame retardant curtains.

In other words – it’s college for old people, minus the actual education (so, college).

Case in point, aaaalll of this:

Aunt Philly enters her specific A.M.U. (credit: Dani Rosen) building using a swipe card (!!!!) and is greeted by a security guard charged with keeping the wrong people out and the right people in. At his control panel is a Facebook-style identification system that lets him know who belongs. He’s under strict instruction to alert proper authorities if someone enters or exits in a particularly wobbly state.

En route to her room are a million biddies gossiping in the halls or watching Price is Right re-runs in the common areas. She stops for a “how are the grandkids? what’s at the salad bar today? Oh, we should take the shuttle tomorrow for the Nordstrom Anniversary sale.” Everyone is in some combination of slacks, shirt and cardigan. It was left undetermined whether or not her building was more of a preppy, Liz Claiborne scene or if an indie J. Jill, look dominates. My suspicion is Lands End, in which case Aunt Philly is set.

The building is co-ed, but the men tend to keep to themselves and/or walk slowly up and down the hallways talking about the war. I asked Aunt Philly if the guys ever gather in the common area to play Fight Club, but she said, “No! What’s that even? Fight Club?! Sounds terrible.” I told her it really was.

She can keep her apartment any way she’d like and it has full amenities (BC kids, that’s Gabelli vs. Vandy-style), but most residents just stock basic breakfast and snack items because of the extensive offerings at the Dining Room (read: Hall), which is where the whole situation gets insane.

The Dining Room runs on an ala cart system based on a cash-plus-points dining (read: meal) plan. The same swipe card that gets you into the building carries all your meal points for the dining room, snack points for various vending machines around the building and…wait for it…shopper points for the community’s on-site mini-mart (so, Camp Co). Can. You. Believe it?!?!

Now here’s where – and it pains me to say this – my Aunt Philly’s college may actually be better than real college. In actual college everyone arrives at the same time and spends the first few weeks roaming around and exercising the open-door policy to meet and make friends. There are some RA-governed ice-breaker situations, but for the most part you’re on your own. Now at old people college admission is rolling. You may be one of two or three other people moving in around the same time, but it’s more new-kid-on-the-block than this-semester’s-frosh-class. As such, when you move in the entire community is notified of your arrival and encouraged to stop by your apartment to welcome wagon you in. Within the first hour of her arrival my Aunt Philly had a gaggle of girls requesting her presence at their dining room dinner table. I. KNOW!!!

In my mind this all begs one, simple question. Why in the world hasn’t someone set this up for post-grads?! Full-service, slightly monitored, dorm-style living in major US cities at prices any parent would gladly pay for the security of knowing their baby can enter adult life on training wheels. This idea an absolute gold-mine.

Of course – according to my Aunt Philly – with college living comes the college cliques that no sensible adult wants to handle. I pitched her my A.M.U-for-20-somethings idea and she gave it a, “well I just don’t know how good a thing it really is yet…” Apparently some group of Mean Girls shoved her over to a bingo table next to a social outcast with a curious bingo winning streak. “I see what’s going on there though,” she told us, “and I think I’ll just try my hand at crafts next time.”

So in the end, life really is just one big college cafeteria. Let the countdown begin.


  1. Ha! Excellent observation! I’ve heard so many crazy stories that take place at retirement homes. Someone even told me that the biggest problem they have there is rampant sex. I’m not sure if that’s true though…

  2. My college roommate and I have been planning college part 2, aka living in the same nursing home someday, since at least sophomore year. We can’t wait.

  3. I can’t beleive someone else has thought of this! Everytime I visit Granny at her home, I think about how excellent it would be to have a place like that – except with more nightlife and less bran flakes. I think we’ve made our billions with this idea.

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