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by Frank Kaiser
Eeeeeeeeek! What have I done? The sign at the entrance to my new home says:

    Retirement at its best!
    Free Golf!
    Recreation Centers!
    Lakes • Tennis • Pools • Gym • Bingo

Bingo? Ohmygod. I'm now living in a "retirement community."


Please say it ain't so.

Did any of us ever dream that we'd ever be living in a place with 15,000 other geezers? A place where no one under 55 is even permitted?

A place from which no one expects to get out alive?

Three months ago, as friends and children questioned our sanity, my wife and I moved to Clearwater, Florida — home of the newly wed and nearly dead. According to the 2000 census, Clearwater is the undisputed senior-citizen capital of the world.

Suddenly Trivia: What US city is No. 2 in residents 65 and older? a) Scottsdale, b) Cape Coral, c) Miami.

Our community is called "On Top of the World."

The story goes that one day the developer said, "If our residents are too poor or infirm to see the world, we'll bring the world to them." And so he did.

Fittingly, the entrance is a huge Arc de Old Codger, a grand gateway aspiring to be like those in Paris and New York. Drive through and you're greeted by a huge globe of the world behind which is a long park clustered with Greek columns, statutes of assorted gods and goddesses, cherubs and cupids. Large, ornate fountains are everywhere.

Of course there's no water. But, hey, we all learned long ago that nothing's perfect.

The real coup d'coot are the 2 – 3 story condo buildings themselves. With names like Mandalay, Austrian Alpine, French Renaissance, and American Gothic, the On Top of the World condo facades and roof lines reflect each specific travel theme. Look across the skyline and you see mosque towers, bizarre steeples, onion domes, cupolas, minarets, oriental arches, and Corinthian scrolls.

It's a hoot! My wife and I live in Mid-Eastern Moorish, sans minarets.

We're a patriotic bunch here. Since the 9/11 tragedy, American flags fly everywhere. From our American cars, our doors and balconies. We start our functions with the Pledge of Allegiance. We're adamant about supporting our country, right or wrong.

Here we speak American. Compared with Miami, my home of the past 11 years, On Top of the World is whole white bread. If anyone drives a foreign car, I've yet to see it. Folks here like big four-door Oldsmobiles and Buicks and Mercurys. My bright blue convertible makes locals stop and stare.

We play pinochle and bridge, Uno and canasta. We line dance, lawn bowl and wood carve. We golf. We play shuffleboard. We exercise.

Carolyn and I are taking weekly classes in yoga and Tai Chi.

And we laugh. Several times a month there's inexpensive entertainment, often old comedians from the Borscht Belt who have found new life joking across Florida's condos. Always corny, they're our Las Vegas without the dirty parts.

Above all, we're habitually polite.

Take last night. At a longer than usual break toward the end of a Herb Alpert sound-alike program, dozens of my fellow oldsters jumped to their feet and rushed — in an octogenarian sense — out toward the door.

Carolyn thought them rude. I think they simply all had to pee.

I know I did.

© 2001 — Frank Kaiser

Suddenly Trivia Answer: Suddenly Trivia Answer: c) Cape Coral, Florida. The oldest five cities are Clearwater, Cape Coral, Honolulu, St. Petersburg, and Hollywood, Florida. Miami is No. 7. Scottsdale is No. 9.


If you have questions about the On Top of the World Retirement Community, or if you or your parents are interested in buying there, I suggest that you talk to the lady that sold Carolyn and me our lovely place. Call Connie Kaufman (727.424.9933) or e-mail her at Her home phone is 727.773.0770. Or, you can reach her toll-free at 1.888.978.1212.

She is very knowledgeable.

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Read last week's column:

When Wild Oats Turn
Into Prunes and All Bran

One minute you're a male sex object, the next, you're a lecherous old fart with bad breath, bad teeth, and probably badly in need of Viagra.