The Loh Life

Wisconsin: Wasp Nest-- part 2

Sandra Tsing Loh and the WASP home.

So my friend CAROL and I have been comparing NOTES recently regarding our aging PARENTS. CAROL’s 80-something mother SYLVIA lives in the JEWISH Home for the Aging in Reseda. Which Carol visits every other DAY, to PULL up the COMPRESSION stockings.

My 90-year-old dad and his WIFE are in the CHINESE home for the aging in Malibu, which UNFORTUNATELY has just TWO people in it. Them. There’s no STAFF except for their part-time Filipino NURSE, some increasingly bewildered RENTERS, and apparently some smallish rats.

But I was not THINKING about ANY of that TODAY! I had just come BACK from a RELAXING Wisconsin VISIT to a gentleman FRIEND’S parents, who appear, by contrast, to live in a kind of WASP home for the Forever Young!

That’s right-- Tuck and Tweedie? Mere seventysomethings! Which is like the new 36! They’re RETIRED, their financial timing ROCKED, they made savvy REAL ESTATE choices-- They‘ve got new EYES, new HIPS, a new LEXUS-- You’re fiftysomething and they CALL you the kids! As in, "You look TIRED, kids!" they yell in matching VISORS, from the pontoon boat. "Take a load off! Steaks are on the way!"

"I’ve HEARD of parents who. . . actually take care of YOU," Carol says in wonderment. "How WAS it?"
"I don’t know where to BEGIN," I admit. “I come from a world in which a typical day has me shoving my cup into the WINE grotto at Chuck E. Cheese while pint-sized CHILDREN ATTACK me for TICKETS like LEECHES. To go from that to a place where everything is provided for me…seems like a dream.

When I OPEN the pantry DOOR?" I say, "And look IN? And it is P-touch labeled and track-LIT and SPOTLESS and beautifully STOCKED with every homey and yet slyly elegant THING you’d want--Pelegrino, Dijon mustard, baby OYSTERS, bread and butter PICKLES, these ADORABLE little cans of TOMATO paste--and I didn’t haul ANY of it THERE, in my own STATION wagon? I almost cried! I DID cry.

"And not that we don’t LOVE our IMMIGRANT parents who continue, in their dotage, to faithfully COLLECT stamps and string-- And not that I don’t APPRECIATE when my FATHER peevishly hands me a piece of LOPSIDED moldy CANTALOUPE, in return for driving AN HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES to bring him his Costco CRANBERRY PILLS for his MEDICAL CONDITION. Wasps have a thing called COCKTAIL HOUR, where you‘re handed an ICED vodka tonic, along with some nuts and cheeses. SO much more humane.

"But then," I confess. "It turned a little dark."

"How so?" she asks.

The answer next week. A hint? Four words: Beat on the Brats.


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