I noticed when I was looking for assisted living quarters for my mother-in-law, that none of the residents seemed to share a cup of tea or a television show in their own apartments. The lovely place we chose had a large living room with a small kitchen area and space for a kitchen table as well as a separate bedroom. I could never figure out why the only place the residents would socially engage was in the huge common area, the dining room or during bingo and ice cream Wednesday.
I would tell my Mom, “You can ask your friends from your lunch table to come over and watch Wheel-of-Fortune! I could get some snacks so you have something to serve.”
“Something to Serve” was very important. You would never be at the older generation’s house as company and not be offered a piece of cake, some pretzels or cookies to go with your coffee or iced tea. So I thought maybe that was the problem. These gals were feeling unhospitable.
“No, that’s okay,” she would tell me. “Besides, I have snacks right here.” Lo and behold, in those little tiny drawers in her sofa end tables were peanut-butter crackers, Goldfish, Rice Krispie treats and little bags of nuts she had brought upstairs from the dining hall. She was not a cleptomaniac, sort of. The snacks were for the taking, but she had more treats in there than Jesus made loaves and fishes. See? “something to serve!” So bad hostessing wasn’t the problem.
Space wasn’t the problem, friends weren’t the problem, even privacy or cleanliness wasn’t the problem. My mother-in-law was as neat as a pin. And if you were a slob, you could always throw everything in the bedroom and close the door. That was one of the reasons we chose this place. Not because Mom needed to hide her mess, but because that separate bedroom with it’s closed door felt like home and not a dorm room.
AHA! Then it struck me. These ladies of “The Greatest Generation” had never lived in a dorm.
Remember when we went to college? You were in and out of everyone’s room a hundred times a day. Parties were milling around from room to room. My dorm rooms were suites with two rooms sharing a bathroom between. I lived with four girls who all liked each other, so we moved all our beds into one room and our desks into the other room. We created our own separate ‘living room’ for parties!
But my mother-in-law, my mom, anyone I know in their 80’s and 90’s never lived at college. Most of them went from their parent’s house to their own new home after marriage. Sure, they had neighbors, but visiting was a more formal affair. You always had to have “something to serve.”
Since they never lived the dormitory life, which they are living now, they don’t know the rules. I think they don’t know they can knock on each other’s door and say “Hey, you want to come over?” They somehow think that the common area and dining hall is where their social interaction must take place. But that really cuts down on gossip, which I’m pretty sure is a staple of dorm living. And what with hearing loss and forgetfulness, gossip can get loud and repetitive, which can be so embarrassing.
I don’t think I can change the status quo for these guys, but I’m feeling confident that the Second Greatest Generation is going to be all over that dorm living in the next 20 years.And since we know how to get kegs in our rooms, hide the good drugs, and snacks are already
provided, well…… Oh!…… and we’re definitely pumping up the MUSAK to some ‘Stones, the Dead, and surely, The Boss! Hey…I might be looking forward to reacquainting myself with dorm life!
“You Just have to Laugh…..”
©2017 Cathy Sikorski