Friday, 28 December 2007

Cathy comes home, to Sunny Vale Retirement Gardens.

Sadly, by the time Mrs McGillicuddy arrived at Sunny Vale, she was completely insane and totally raving. "You will obey me!" she'd scream at her carers, as they changed her matching tailored outfits and sheets sometimes up to a dozen times a day.

Old people are often just plain nuts. Mrs McGillicuddy kept on imploring me, “Won’t you please tell me?!” Er, tell you what exactly?

“Oh, won’t you please just tell me?!” And? Well, that was the whole spooky thing as far as she was concerned. And she continued. “This hospital is just like my shop!” And what kind of shop did you have there, kid?

“I don’t know, but this place is just like it!” Mrs McGillicuddy had seen me a few times over a grand total of a few weeks and she told me rather eerily, “After all these years, you haven’t changed...”

And indeed I haven’t. Not with my Time Machine which gives me total power over the space time continuum. Yep, I still wear the same feeble paper party hat I had when I was 12. It’s a kind of sparkly green cone shaped affair with a jaunty orange chicken feather. I’m known for it in fact.

“There goes Colonel Neville wearing his trademark festive headwear!” they say in admiration.

And that’s the thing, you can’t control your environment, and how life is bound to end badly. It’s just hard to get inspired by drip feeds and heavily darned cardigans patterned with soup stains. When my own Mother became very ill, after a long period of mysterious poisoning, the most important thing for her personally, was to remain useful, to feel wanted and important.

Sadly, she was none of those things, so I found her suitable employ as a test pilot. And people have called me heartless! How many sons get their elderly Mother's a job with great new career opportunities?

She seemed to enjoy it and really rallied around. Sometimes Mummy would be so excited when I was strapping her into the latest version of the TX9000 High Altitude Death Cruiser, that I’d have to open her a fresh bottle of Whiskey and give her an injection.

The powerful G forces really worked a miracle on her humped back and when she’d return from a test flight, usually by parachute, she’d be so straightened and flattened out, that I often sent her home via post in a plain yellow envelope. Mother always enjoyed that and would tell me how she passed time on the trip, bursting the plastic bubbles and while just waitin’ around in the Post Office box, that I rented and furnished for her.

Are old people boring? Not if you don’t listen to a word they say and keep them in the attic. It’s horrible really what may become of us all, focused for hours on end over a single bread crumb in the centre of a vast sea of creepy carpet, while covered in saliva and oatmeal, and that's on formal occasions.

My Mother was obsessed with making endless frozen meals at an ever decreasing cost per unit and storing them in vast piles in deep freezers.

Mother: “Look! These 400 chipped beef dinners work out at less than 15c a meal! They’re ripping you off at a restaurant. I can feed your Father and I for a whole year for only fifty-two dollars. I could have supplied Ice Station Zebra for over three years for less than the cost of a budget priced Chihuahua!”

Always with the Ice Station Zebra. Yes, and why waste a good Chihuahua?

Old people are funny. Er, no, actually they’re not, not at all. Not while you’re still in the same room with them. Generally, they’re depressing and extraordinarily dull and boring. Hey, Dull and Boring, who’ll ever forget them? They’re paranoid, uninterested in anything later than four decades ago and for some unfathomable reason they often dig synthetic materials over natural, especially in furniture, teeth and hair.

And man, what’s a doily for anyway? Claustrophobia as an interior decorating statement? And if you ever move one of those embroidered spider webs even a fraction, you’ll be, oh so severely, admonished! Or when they're out of the room, try getting rid of a doily...

Why? Because doilies look creepy, super daggy, claustrophobic, pointless, crispy and yellowed with stains and dust and creepy and fussy and creepy and so curiously 19th Century. Hey, only a two hundred year old genteel knick knack accessory? It's the latest thing!

Every senior citizen in a wig or toupee looks like they borrowed it from a window store mannequin, or the wardrobe department for Lancelot Link. Always with the same follicles akimbo and head mat on an angle, riding high and hovering styling, like a powerfull wind slammed a door very hard. It’s the Jerry Lewis Kabuki fright wig Range. And why not. It's a freak country.

Also, old people don’t really like art, music or good food much. Not really. Especially art that looks like digested food and music with any kind of beat, including the more daring and contemporary forms of Polka. All their art looks so much like something that it looks like nothing and you know what it is because you’ve seen it so many times on a cookie tin.

The only attractive thing about old folks, apart from their permanent chocolate biscuit collection, is that they’re not teenagers, because old people are actually identical to five-year olds, except for the bed wetting. Sadly, old people never grow out of it.

And teenagers are so easily offended. I said to a teen, “What are you going to be when you’re no longer an embarrassing, confused and irritating pain in the ass?” And they took offence at that!

There are certain inappropriate words and phrases you should never use with a teen. Like “Do this…” “Clean this.”, “Listen to me.”, “Wait a little.”, “Consider others sometimes.” ,“Think carefully.”, “Be yourself.”, “Think of the future.”, “I know what I’m talking about.”, “I have no money.” and the worst one of all is, “Hey, I really like that too!”

My Mother once said to me that Neil Diamond was not a has-been if he was good in the past. And imagine if you’re barely excitingly average to begin with? Ah, the Golden Years. But that’s incontinence for ya. I’m just glad there’s nothing that's an embarrassing drag or unpleasant about middle-aged people.

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