I am a woman of a certain age. And I am trying to embrace all of it. Really. It’s hard to miss that many of my friends and I are now legally old enough to live in the 55 and over communities that are sprouting up like dandelions in a cow field. I suppose it’s enticing to some that they have fun names like Golden Wish Retirement and Live it up! Personally, the names freak me out. Some of these places also offer interest groups like book clubs, dog walking clubs, swim teams, and cheer clubs. I am not sure what they are cheering about, perhaps it has to do with having made it to 55 and over…I know I am cheering!
Then there are the myriad committees that operate all the activities. Former CEO’s and professors, shop owners and architects are leading the charge; they are the generous & the bored whom selflessly spend their time and energy at The Sunset Hills and sister communities improving the lives of all residents. It’s their chance to give back, be the cool kids, wear the bossy pants.
A friend of mine, I’ll call her, Ginny in order to protect her from her retirement board of directors who have gone round the bend, is living in such a place I will call, The Orb of Gold Community. The Green Living Committee from the Orb of Gold sent Ginny a cease and desist order of sorts. She can no longer grow pumpkins–or any “unsightly” vegetables on her property. The beautification committee and their dogs – basically most of the community – seem to be in an uproar over loose vegetables in general and pumpkins specifically.
Here’s what I imagine happened the day they decided to deny pumpkins from the Orb of Gold Community Living neighborhood:
“Eh Gad, Charlie, she’s got some sort of glabrous gourds growing! What shall we do?”
“Just horrible. Maybe we can join the garden committee and put a formal stop to it!”
“Yes, Junior here is apoplectic over pumpkins. He’s afraid to pee on them when we walk by.”
Ginny arrived home one day to discover a legal document had been plopped on her front porch. Now used as a doorstop, it was opened at once – as my friend thought she had been bequeathed a magnanimous gift. However, she discovered a litany of offenses all directed at her garden. Namely, that she had one. But when she got to Section 6 Subsection e. Possession. Whereas, the Parties with Pumpkins, she herself became apoplectic.
Raking through the legalese, it comes down to this: If Ginny could just get it together and grow pleasant looking vegetables, like hybrid eggplant and tomatoes—that don’t reproduce or attract many butterflies and honeybees – and put them in pretty painted pots that don’t leak, everyone at The Orb will back her 100%. But no more squashes or kale for heaven’s sakes! The Orb of Gold folks haven’t been on board with kale since it was invented by the hippies in the 1970’s.
If Ginny complies, the humans won’t have to avert their eyes when passing by loose vines and withering beans, and all the little dogs will recognize what they are peeing on and once again frolic.
This entire episode reminds me of the literary rejections that appear in my inbox—most unwelcome –at all hours of the day/night.
Section 4, subsection b. Just not for us.
“We love your effort and word placement, as well as your choice of verbs. Even your characters come alive and the setting, divine…but we just don’t take stories with people’s names in the title, or even stories with people in them…maybe next time….in the meantime, keep writing!”
Ginny and I both would like to strangle publishers and green committee members with pumpkin vines, but alas, no pumpkins allowed! I am now suspicious—perhaps the The Orb of Gold Board of Regents is masquerading as literary agents and publishers…I will be on the lookout for a doorstop size legal doc and small dogs wandering by my window with their leg up.