By Anne T. Donahue
I read somewhere (likely on Twitter, which I will never call “X”) that August is the Sunday of months, and I couldn’t agree more. I was born in August which prevents me from hating it publicly, but those who know me also know that Civic Holiday is the long weekend I like least (it’s too hot!), that August feels like four months put together, and that by my birthday (August 29), I am desperate for October and its promise of getting my first cold of the academic year.
But yesterday, I found a source of solace: channeling my inner retiree. Because while I’ve always known that emotionally, I am at least 76, I’ve largely ignored two important things. First, that financially, I will never be able to actually retire, and two, that nothing is stopping me from being a retiree now. (Minus the not-working part, but look: shut up.)
So here is my guide to making the most of the last month of summer, and by “making the most” I mean “pretending I am Cloris Leachman’s character in Now and Then.”
As a child, the most glamorous thing a person could do was have lunch with another adult. Growing up, my Nana would take me with her to the mall, and inevitably, we’d stop and have something to eat. Sometimes, it was food court-food. Others, it was Culture’s. And other times still, it was Culture’s with somebody my Nana knew or my mom or an aunt or another adult who also ordered quiche.
To start, quiche is delicious and I can’t believe how much I protested it as a sweet baby idiot. Second, quiche represented a type of lunch unattainable to me, a kid whose go-to meal was pizza with pepperoni taken off. Quiche represented elevated tastes. It represented finesse. It told anybody who witnessed its consumption that you had evolved from a plain egg and cheese omelette, and could handle having said glorified omelette being cradled by pie dough. I would rather have eaten a shoe at the time, but even then I understood that “doing lunch” was a social event reserved for people who demanded an hour to re-fuel.
Thus, this August, you will do lunch. You will eat quiche or you won’t, but you will take a blessed hour to eat a sensible meal in the company of somebody you like, and you won’t regret it for an instant.
I love going to bingo. I love paying $20 for a bunch of playing cards, $5 for a dabber, and $1 for a ginger ale, and being surrounded by senior citizens who will actually destroy you if you speak during the game. Once, I called bingo mistakenly, and the looks of disgust will stay with me forever. Another time, the friend I was with couldn’t keep up, and I considered shaming her before ending our friendship forever. (We compromised by agreeing she can never come with me again.) Bingo is pure. Bingo is good. Bingo is the type of activity you can spend two hours doing and not feel guilty about if you happen to win, which I never have, but would love to try.
It is also always funny to whisper “bingo” to your best friend after the first number’s been called, but don’t let Dorothy down the table hear you.
Slot machines and/or the casino
I could never become a serious casino patron because I know I would lose everything I own, but I can attest to the majesty of penny-to-a-dollar slot machines and that for no reason whatsoever, you’ll get a bunch of free spins and feel like a high roller. I love slot machines. I love casinos. I love the free pop they serve at casinos, and that for the most part, you can also order fries. I love giving myself a $40 limit and then telling myself that if I win even $100 I will quit my responsibilities and start life anew. I love the oxygen they pump into the air, and I love that some casinos are also attached to horse racing tracks where you can pretend you know how horse racing works. I have no idea how anything works, even slot machines. But damn it, I know what winning sounds like, and I have really yet to experience that sound at all.
Did you know you can roam around the mall in air-conditioned bliss at any time during its hours of operation and no one will get mad about it? Retirees know. And they are my people.
Going to bed early
This year I started going to bed an hour earlier than I used to because I am aging and need 44 hours of sleep every day. This new bedtime (around 10 pm) led to an earlier rising time (5 30 am – 6 pm), and not because I wanted it to: because at the crack of dawn, my body told me to get up because I’d slept enough already. I still don’t believe it, nor do I fully trust it. And yet every morning, I’m greeted with my brethren; my comrades in sticking to a routine: I see the elderly people in my neighbourhood taking their walks as the sun rises. I see elderly people at the grocery store seconds after it’s opened. I see the people after my own heart (the elderly) engaging in this new, strange realm of the world (the “morning”?) and I tell myself I’m so refreshed, I probably won’t even need to nap.
If you work someplace (at home?) and a nap is made possible, take the nap. Take one for all of us. Take one because that’s what retirees do, and I know this because they use phrases like “just resting my eyes” to pretend they don’t need a wee refresh after eating all that quiche.
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