My mom is an artist. She teaches people to paint, like at those paint boutiques that have popped up everywhere. She delivers, though. Instead of having to go to a location to have a paint party, she’ll come to you. Sometimes she books a party large enough that she needs some help with the setup and teardown of the easels, brushes and mats.
I recently volunteered to help her with a paint party at a retirement home. Around twenty senior citizens who lived in the facility signed up to paint and sip wine (included at no extra charge). This is a fun way to do an activity and socialize.
After I helped set up the easels on the tables and set the brushes in their cups of water, there was little for me to do until the event was over. I watched my mom present to this group of eager artist-wannabes. She shows and explains which paintbrush to choose, which color of paint and how to apply the paint to the canvas.
It’s pretty remarkable to watch people who don’t believe they can paint, suddenly produce a quality piece of art in a couple hours. Most feel very accomplished upon completion and the paintings are usually displayed with pride. Therefore, it’s fun to watch the process.
I continued to watch, but after a while I wandered to the nearby television viewing room. There, a group of men were watching a college football game. This seemed like a way to spend some time as my mom instructed her group. I sat down to watch and opened up some smalltalk.
“Who’s playin’?” I asked, trying to engage these senior men.
“It’s right there on the screen. Can’t you read?” I was a kind of tickled by the grumpy response. I expected these men to be lonely for some communication, but they were much more interested in letting me know that they thought I must not be very bright.
“Who are you rooting for?” I asked.
“Do you want us to miss the game? Cuz that’s what answering all your questions will cause.” An elderly man answered gruffly and they all laughed.
“Okay, then…” I said and began to leave.
Then one of the men stopped me, “Wait. Don’t go.” I stood there, happy that perhaps I had become welcome. Maybe I needed to be initiated, but I endured their hazing and could now watch among them.
“Do you know how to get Cialis?” They all laughed. It was clear that I was the butt of their little inside joke. I dismissed them with a wave of my hand and went back to the paint party. “Don’t go sonny. We’re serious. We pay.” I kept going and pretended not to hear.
I walked around the painters and complemented their artistry. As I stopped at one woman’s spot to give my approval of her work, she motioned me to come closer. I leaned in to hear her. She whispered, “Can you get us discount Cialis?”
I blushed a little, dismissed her question and moved on. When I got to another woman’s painting, she handed me a note. The note read, “We will pay you if you can get us Cialis. Lots!” I felt like I was losing my mind. This wasn’t just a prank or these octogenarians trying to prank me. This was a serious request. They had desires that weren’t matched by their bodies’ natural abilities.
After they were all done painting, I took the pictures of everyone’s paintings with their proud creators. Then I helped my mom clean up and load the easels and brushes and leftover supplies into her van. As we were finished and getting in to drive home, my mom said, “For senior citizens they drank a lot of wine. Then they started asking me embarrassing questions.”
“Me too!” I exclaimed. Then my mom continued, “Those women kept asking me if I knew how to get Cialis.” I rolled my eyes in disbelief. “They asked me too. I wonder what’s going on in that place? One woman even handed me a note. It wasn’t just them playing tricks.” My mom and I chuckled and kind of shivered as we drove away.
Ever since that night, I get these unsettling images of senior citizens skipping their scheduled activities because one of them received a care package filled with pills that aren’t part of their prescriptions. Barry White music playing in the background as blue-haired grandparents get to know each other biblically.
I try not to think about it too much, but it does make me laugh. And when my mom returns to the center next month for their paint party, I’m going to make sure she has a different volunteer to help her.
Have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment in the section below.