Years ago I had this idea for the perfect reality TV show. I actually thought about filming, producing and editing it myself, from the comfort and convenience of my grandmothers couch in Tamarac, Florida.
The hard part of creating good TV is the writing.
Good material ain’t easy to come up with.
The beauty of this idea was……no writing was necessary.
The editing wasn’t going to be really all that important either – after all – it would simply be a matter of what riotously funny stuff you had to cut out due to time contraints.
Rather than having to hunt for the good stuff…..you’d have to hunt for the stuff that was only so-so sensationally silly, rather than the abundance of gut busting goofiness that used to take place in that apt, and the adjacent 2 – and the extended community of 75-95 year old Jewish women that made up this complex.
Florence, my grandmothers next door neighbor always loved me.
She was convinced I was in possession of a rare and extraordinary genius that came around only once or twice in a generation,which always made me feel great about visiting.
My genius, at least as far as Florence was concerned, was cemented the day that I ressurected her broken, busted, no good computer from the brink of the trash heap.
It was a huge, klunky computer that Florence needed to do her taxes, and write letters to the community association about parking problems, guests who stayed too long and other offenses, and without it, she felt as disconnected as it was.
It didn’t work….and apparently, even the smartest men in the community (Joe in 4B) were unable to breathe life back into the belly of the beast.
One day, after hearing her lament……I went into her apartment to survey the scene,and see what, if anything could be done to salvage this little piece of her life that meant so much.
Being uncommonly astute – the first thing I noticed was the keyboard wasn’t plugged into the little serial port, making typing logistically impossible.
Once that small tweak was done, astonishingly…..new life was found in old bones. Words appeared on command.
The future looked bright yet again……for both Florence, the evolution of the USB port, and her 1993 Dell Dimension.
Florence was a small woman – but she was so excited, her bear hug almost knocked me over.
She kept saying –
“Tilly, he’s a genius. I told you he’s a genius. I don’t know what he did. But he fixed it. Why can’t he visit more often?”
I’ve always loved visiting my relatives in Florida….especially my grandmother and her friends, my great aunts and their friends……there is something so safe, and sweet and so incredibly touching about being and feeling important and needed and when the act of visiting, in of itself is so obviously meaningful…..it’s hard not to want to do it more.
Florence is long gone now….as is my grandmother – but those memories are still special ones – and they always make me smile.
But I’m back now – for a little while – back in that part of Florida where senior citizens reign supreme.
And what’s so funny to me – so eye opening – is, after living 2 years in the Florida Keys – Key West in particular – which is SUPPOSED to be one of the weirdest, wildest and most wacky places in the world – in terms of pure strange experiences, it doesn’t hold a candle to Boca Raton where age and experience offer the ultimate in the freedom of fuck you expressionism.
I’ve had a 89 year old woman give me the finger in a Publix parking lot just for smiling at her for no reason.
I’ve been cut off in traffic by cars that seemingly are driving themselves….with only the smallest slender glimpse of a forehead peeking out from under the dash to know that corporeal hands are guiding the machine.
I’ve been cut off in line at the drug store, bumped by more shopping carts than I can count, and in general, every day encounters are a smorgasbord of sublime surprises.
Yesterday, as I sat with a small group of women at the assisted living facility where my great aunt now calls home…..we watched the latest news about world affairs and shared thoughts over decaf and saltless saltines.
“How many men did that woman, kill – 1 or a whole bunch?” my Aunt Sarah asked…..pointing at the mysterious mug of Jodi Arias plastered on every screen.
“just 1” I replied.
“Oh well….” she said – “such a shame to waste your whole life on just one”
The other women agreed.
I wasn’t quite sure I understood – but I decided not to press.
An hour later I was in the local supermarket – barely there for 2 minutes flat – and a woman in a very strange looking housecoat approached.
“do you live in Kings Point?” she asked?
“No…..I don’t” I replied. (while thinking….maybe in 30 years, thanks a lot, lady 🙂
She said – “I thought so – I saw you in the gym earlier today”
She then starts to describe a fight she just had with a cleaning lady of some sort……a story I politely listen to without interrupting.
Then she says – “you got your cell on you? Here – call this number and when she picks up, hang up”
For a moment…..thinking back to Florence and the days of doing small tasks so impressively well that you could almost hear the crowd cheer…….I almost did it.
Instead, I looked at her for a moment, smiled sadly and wished her well.
Life passes all so quickly – the magical and the mundane melting into but a memory of what was, much more than what could be.
I’m always reminded of that here.
To be grateful.
And mindful of the moment.
We never get them back.