Because I did not lie about my age, I could not participate in the town’s newest survey — an online questionnaire about what older folks might want to have in a new East Hampton senior citizens center. “Try back later, when you’re old enough,” it said after I hit “Submit.” Something like that. Thing is, though, I will be in the 60-plus demographic by the time the center opens; I have to get my 2 cents in somehow. Here are a few things that I would like to see.
It was funny to me that as I began thinking about a wish list for us upcoming geezers, it was college that came to mind first. But then, as I thought more about it, that seemed a good place to start. When I was an undergraduate, I spent a lot of time in the college’s cafes, hanging around, maybe studying sometimes, but mostly snacking and talking with friends. For a swipe on a meal plan card, we could get coffee and a sandwich. To this day, I crave a certain hippie-dippy chocolate mousse tart that was my go-to source of carbs other than cheap, bad beer.
Students and faculty there also had free use of the college’s well-stocked workshops — pottery, metal, blacksmithing, woodworking, and jewelry. We may have had to pay for materials, but the cost was minimal if that was the case. While I would be willing to bet good money that the town would make noises that it could never offer such things to residents because of insurance or this or that excuse, if a college could allow a bunch of semi-drunken louts like me and my buddies anywhere near a table saw . . . anyway, it’s not like I am suggesting that they put in a hookah lounge. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s not such a bad idea.
My college had a radio station, where I was for a time a late-night D.J., playing jazz records and speaking into the 2 a.m. abyss. Some young women at a sleepover phoned once to request “Take the A Train,” but other than that, there was almost no contact with the outside world. Elsewhere, we had soundproof rooms where we could practice music, and there was an observatory open a night or two a week for a glimpse at the stars. Heck, even my fraternity had a speaker series; the psychedelics guru Ram Dass was our guest once.
I also thought about the libraries here and how they are used by older people. A computer lab with free printing would be nice. I would enjoy a reading room with magazines. Classes would get me out of the house, for sure, so long as they were serious — meditation and ancient philosophy, yes, no Thanksgiving centerpieces, please.
What about a performance space? Maybe Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who lives around here someplace, would drop by to sit in with the Steven Tekulsky Band as we enjoyed our pour-over coffees and popped out for a quick vape in the garden. A shooting range might be out, but what about some beer-pong tables? Dance Dance Revolution would be fun.
Aldous Huxley’s last and lesser-known novel, “Island,” came out the year that I was born, which was, coincidentally, the final year of the baby boom. He set it on an imagined speck of land in the Indian Ocean, where the elders are free to seek enlightenment and spiritual insights in a ritualized drug-taking session. Of course, it is all good until an army from a neighboring island invades to claim the Island’s oil.
Maybe East Hampton’s oldies would be better off with a woodshop, after all.