Do you know what a snowbird is? We do.
Snowbirds are nomadic souls, usually past retirement age, who take it upon themselves to climb in their American-made cars every January and fly from lands of hard vowels and good pastrami south for the winter, which is to say until early June. Twice a week I find myself behind a Buick with a tag from Ontario or Ohio or New Jersey going 17 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone, its left blinker inexplicably flashing and its driver’s head barely visible above the steering wheel.
Lord love ’em. They are the Greatest Generation. They’ve worked hard all their lives, raised their kids, paid their taxes, and now they just want to wander aimlessly around the park, all decked out in their black socks and windsuits, basking in the warm Florida sunshine and taking orangey-yellow pictures with their orangey-yellow disposable cameras.
But if another one honks and throws their hands up at me for not pulling out to block a crowded intersection just because the light is green, I will get out of my car and reign down upon him or her with my most excellent speech on Medicare for All. And if they don’t stop buying up all the drinking water and half and half at the Walmart, I will start buying up all the cough drops and Kleenex at the Walgreens.
Funny story: Evie and I were enjoying lunch at one of our favorite restaurants this week, when a table of three snowbirds sat down right next to us. These ladies were dressed to the nines, complete with huge prescription sunglasses (which they wore inside), rings on each laquered finger and tissues peeking out from their shirtsleeves. We’ll call them Janice, Barbara and Rose. After asking the waitress, her face dewy with perspiration, to turn down the air conditioning and politely drilling her on the freshness of the sandwich bread, they settled in for a chat. Because I am a
shameless eavesdropper dedicated observer of humanity, here’s what I overheard:
Rose: Well, I don’t know. She’s helping me, is all I can say.
Janice: That’s what you said. What did you say?
Barb: Something about swallowing? It was something about swallowing. Teaching you how to swallow?
Rose: Several times a week, hand to God, I would almost choke in my own kitchen. I couldn’t swallow water!
Janice: Oh my.
Barb: That’s terrible.
Rose: So this girl is teaching me to chew a lot more than I was so I won’t choke.
Janice: She’s very smart. And a pretty girl.
Barb: Most people don’t realize how much food collects in your mouth.
Rose: The right thing to do is chew it until it’s almost liquid. Little bites.
Janice: I’m ordering chocolate cake.
Barb: What about the eclairs?
Janice: No, she said they were filled with white cream. Not custard. White cream.
Barb: White cream?
Janice: White cream.
Janice: The eclairs are filled with white cream.
Rose: Not custard?
Rose: I don’t care for sweets.
Barb: No, you don’t. What do you like?
Janice: Potato chips. She goes nuts over potato chips.
Rose: I could eat the whole bag.
Janice: But aren’t potato chips hard for you to chew and swallow?
Rose: Well, I just hold a chip in my mouth until it gets soft. You know.
Oy. I’m still a little skeeved out by this conversation.
Y’all, I don’t want you to think I’m hatin’ on our nation’s senior citizens. They’re the only ones who get my old movie references, and they’ve lived long enough to gain some perspective on and a sense of humor about life, two things my generation sorely lacks. I have the utmost respect and reverence for my elders.
But I mean it about the half and half, you guys. Seriously.