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Isn't it ironic that the state of Florida, famed for Ponce de Leon and his elusive Fountain of Youth, has now become a place to eat dinner so early that you still have time to die and be buried that same evening? In some restaurants, by the way, the causes are totally unrelated. When I was a child in New England, the winter weather was bracing and often challenging. Radials with studs had not been invented, so my father put chains on our tires and drove the car in second gear. Long before Goretex and Polarfleece, there was wool and hot cocoa. Judicious combinations of the two kept us able to work, play, and even enjoy the outdoors.
The snow brought benefits even greater than winter sports. One night, when I just couldn't gather the oomph to study for Miss O'Brien's notorious Latin test, I watched the snow accumulate under the street light in front of my house. By midnight, things looked good. I made a deal with every Roman god I could think of, promising to study in the morning if only school could be canceled. By dawn, 22 inches of fresh snow had made the roads impassable. I knew this could never happen in Florida.
Since I never had the pleasure of knowing my own grandparents, I was a novice in the field of multi-generational families. But slowly I began to notice that grandparents were seasonal commodities, disappearing in the cold months and returning to spend the summer with pastel clothing and a suspicious head start on their tans. Some even dangled plastic nose shields over the bridge of their glasses. Where did they go and what made them lose all sense of personal style? Eventually, my suspicions began to solidify. Human beings over 60 seemed genetically programmed for southeast migration.
Recently I was wincing through physical therapy as Lois applied ultrasound and heat to my intransigent biceps tendon. "The winter isn't great for this," she stated. "You'll feel much better when it's warm." Bingo! I had to stop before I got sucked all the way to Boca Raton. "Never," I groaned. "I look putrid in pastel. If I eat dinner at four, what will I call the meal I'll need at nine? Must I inevitably become a beach bubby, sharing intimate details of recent surgical procedures with senile strangers?"
By sheer numbers, baby boomers can defuse destructive trends in American popular culture. Thanks to us, smoking cigarettes is a social stigma, coffee has more flavor than most foods, and foreign cars can be owned by people who are not obliged to see Rashomon without subtitles. Don't buy that time share or condo! Enrol in a college course in Vermont! Cross-country ski through New Hampshire! Check your sunglasses with care before you slip nonchalantly into pearlized frames or jeweled temples! If you must visit warmer climates, even for a short time, remember these caveats: swimsuits with skirts add twenty pounds to any figure, and European trunks look best on European travelers. Let's maintain our healthy bones in the locations formerly thought to chill them, so that we can eat and maybe even die when we're good and ready.
Don't worry. I'm laying in a supply of warm sweaters. Wool, of course, makes my 50 year old perimenopausal skin itch like the dickens, but I have made peace with a few of my old synthetics. And now that they make sugar-free, lactose-free cocoa, I'm ready. I know I can make it. I'm worried about my husband though. I caught him glancing lustfully at a pair of white patent leather loafers when we were window shopping last week. I just hope Florida doesn't steal his sole.
Written by Marcia Brown Rubinstien
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