Hi readers. This town where Jeanne lives and I currently reside on her couch gave me a strange arrangement of ponderings yesterday. I knew my physical therapy at the hospital will be fading in July. By coincidence the Olathe Community Center is opening, and I’d heard it would include exercise machines, etc.
By golly I don’t ignore coincidence. Figured I could buzz over there three times a week as long as I’m here, work out, maybe connect with local seniors to play some chess, chew the fat, exchange low sodium recipes. Old guys did those things on the Courthouse lawn when I was a kid, playing dominoes and spitting tobacco. A piece of getting old.
To my surprise, that new Olathe Community Center is a bastion of healthiness, classes on Zombi or somesuch dancing, Yoga, big TV screens people can watch while stationary biking. A room full of water capable of being peed into from everywhere within 100 yards any direction. Maybe a hundred walking machines, weight machines, and combinations of all three.
And for kids? Wow. Two story water slide indoors with signs saying they don’t want heart patients [me] using it. Piss on them. I’ll use that thing if I want to.
Because in that entire enormous structure there is not one, not one single item specifically intended to be used by the elderly. Not one ping-pong table, for that matter, to allow fast action small area activities, either.
I’d been casually searching for some while for a Senior Citizen Center in Olathe. There ain’t one, even though the senior population here’s quite large. Closed down a couple of years ago when the city sold the building, never reopened somewhere else.
Fairly strange. A rich, rich, how you say, affluent community here with a large area of old, low-income houses in the older part of town inhabited by lower middle class non-upwardly mobile working-class scum and senior citizens. And that new community center forgot they exist.
Hell, every tiny community everywhere has a Senior Citizen Center, or failing that, a pantheon of senior activities incorporated into the local community center. Andrews, Texas, out on the high plains desert has a big one. Half deserted towns all over Texas and New Mexico dying of thirst and hunger have one thing left functioning: Senior Citizen Centers.
And this beautiful old farming community that’s become the home of thousands of high-income soccer and tennis playing SUV driving tofu eating Kansas Citians during the past 20 to 30 years has the singular distinction of having nothing of the sort.
Jeanne’s jobs are over in the neighborhood of Lenexa. Another grown-over KC bedroom community. And when she got tired of my berating Olathe regarding the new Community Center and the implied attitude toward senior citizens she took me over there. They’ve got a center about the size of one in Zuni, New Mexico, or Andrews, Texas. About the size of each of the three in Kerrville, Texas.
Fine people over there in Lenexa. We got there around noon, just looking around. Maybe fifty people hanging around in there chewing the fat. A lady running the place came up, introduced herself, showed us around. Full of enthusiasm, got more programs going on than you could shake a stick at. Even computers, computer instruction.
I asked about chess. “We don’t have a chess program, but we can! You can be the first one to get it started!” Turns out they have a couple of exercise machines, too. ping-pong table’s next door at the ‘regular people [read upwardly mobile SUV driving, tofu eating] living in Lenexa.
Well, they ain’t new, and they ain’t as close as the brand spanking new shiny Olathe Community Center full of water sports and rosy-cheeked mamas with healthy white kids screaming their heads off. But if I’m around here a while and decide to do anything senior citizen-wise, I have a feeling I’ll either try out Lenexa or go another few miles out and do it in a place where they still have real people driving 15-year-old pickups.
If such places still exist.
Might even swing over into Missouri, where they remember what Jayhawk meant back when it actually meant something. Lots of little towns over that way still no further than this from the VA Medical Center. I’m betting they have senior citizen centers, too.
Not to say it’s a big item for me. I honestly don’t like senior citizens all that much. Too opinionated, though not as bad as younger people. But old folks tend to be fairly obnoxious, on the whole. I don’t blame Olathe Parks and Recreation Department for trying to forget they exist. Old bastards need to check in at the Emergency Room down at the City Morgue.