There is no need to hide in the eaves to eavesdrop. I can go right down to the pool at Vista Pines in Stuart, Florida, and listen all I want. So I grabbed my iPad and headed down to check it out.Saturday afternoon had everyone talking about the Mardi Gras party the previous evening that was held at the clubhouse. “How does your back feel today after wearing those high heels last night?” “I noticed you didn’t take your morning walk this morning. Did you stay out too late?” (Note: Too late at Vista Pines, a 55-and-over community, is about 9:30 p.m.)
“I loved that blue dress on you!” “Thanks. I got it over at the thrift shop.” (Translation: The person who owned it before is probably six feet under.)
The conversation shifted from the party to everyone’s various ailments. Insomnia. Incontinence. Colonoscopies. Rehab. Shingles. You name it and someone in the pool has or had it. There were about 20 people in the pool sitting on Styrofoam noodles and waving their arms around in the water for exercise. The women did not get their hair wet. The men talked about maybe setting up a poker game with a $10 buy-in.
Around the pool blue table umbrellas were up and people read, talked on their phones or napped. Groups of three and four sat in circles talking about 49-cent wings at Bonos and where to go for dinner later. Food is a huge topic of conversation at Vista Pines and in Florida in general. There is a wealth of information about food available pool-side. You could plan your entire month of dining out in one afternoon.
I noticed that the older people get, the more they like to plan their next move, whether it be their next meal, their next trip to the dollar store or … their next meal.
The weather is another big topic that needs to be discussed frequently and people seem to love to talk about how horrible the weather is “up north,” where most of them are from. One can find out the temperature in virtually every New England state just by eavesdropping. They love to talk about snowfall amounts and sub-zero temperatures elsewhere while they stand around in the pool with a water temperature of more than 80 degrees. A lot of people here seem to be from Michigan. I can spot that upper peninsula accent a mile away.
Stories about children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other relatives are swapped. Having company coming to visit is a favorite subject. You can get the scoop on visiting relatives at the drop of a hat. Arrival and departure dates of the “snowbirds” are discussed.
There are many rules one must follow while visiting the pool area. No food. No drinks. Shower before swimming. No kids in the pool between 2 and 3 p.m. No diving. Close your umbrella before leaving. The list of rules goes on and on. I break most of them.
As far as sports go, chair yoga is popular as is senior aerobics and water exercise class. If the mercury dips below 78 degrees, water exercise class is canceled. Actually, people rarely even go down to the pool before 11 a.m. Like my Dad told me, “We’re so busy doing nothing.” Did I mention shuffleboard?
Around 4 p.m. people begin rounding up their stuff to head back to their condo for happy hour and an early dinner. They love to say, “It’s five o’clock SOMEWHERE!” (Like no one has EVER heard that expression!) The pool is open till 10 at night but in all the years I’ve been coming down here, I have never seen anyone go swimming at night!
So, yes. There is a wealth of information to be learned down at the pool. You can just lie back, close your eyes, pretend you are asleep and listen away. Oh, and don’t forget to close that umbrella before you leave.