The Golden Girls, Take Two

Joan Gillman and I were interviewing aging expert Carol Koby on our radio program (Carol hosts All About Life on WTDY on Saturday mornings), and we got on the topic of how aging has changed, given medical advancements. We talked about where we thought trends would go in the next few years, given that women probably will soon live to be 100 on average. The hope and the curse of science.

Carol had already mentioned the old sitcom “The Golden Girls” in another context, but suddenly I had this insight that the plot of the program — older lady roommates sharing an apartment to cut expenses — is a perfect screenplay to take into the near future. In fact, an image of my future roommates immediately popped into my head (let’s call them “Rose” and “Dorothy” to keep things simple).

In my scenario, it’s Dorothy who owns the house. Poor Dorothy… and I mean, really, poor Dorothy. I imagine that character lost 40% of her stock portfolio in the crash of ’09 and then her partner dumped her, and she can’t refinance her three-bedroom house because lenders … well, you know about lenders and the rock and the hard place that the government buried them in. Lucky for Dorothy, she meets Rose at the free health care clinic, and the two strike up a friendship.

Rose needs to move out of her own home because she gave too much money to her adult children who were “slow to launch” after the job market really went to “h-e-double hockey sticks” in 2010 … and (though she won’t admit it), she couldn’t pass a store without buying a trinket for a grandchild. She always thought that if things got bad enough, she could sell her own trinkets on eBay, but after that crashed in 2013, she hasn’t sold squat. Her children offered to let her move in with them after her husband died, but let’s get real: that screenplay only worked on “The Waltons.”

I imagine that I (playing the only role left — the “Blanche” character) will be hit upside the head, almost literally, by the ad that Dorothy arranges to have flashed across my iSunglasses. Dorothy and Rose had hired a branding company to craft a message strategy specifically target to “a 60-something-year old women with less than a $1million retirement nest egg” and “who subscribes to a download service for Oprah’s summer reading list” and “who prefers to stay up late at night and sleep late in the morning” and “who makes a good omelet” and “who thinks eccentric women are ‘funny’ versus ‘have early onset dementia'” and “who can fix us up with dates if we get desperate.”

Rose literally claps her hands with joy as she watches my face (via a remote feed made possible by some futuristic technology) when the ad is delivered.

Their ad hits its target market (me) just as I walk out of my plastic surgeon’s office after a teeny tiny consult about a teeny tiny procedure … when all I’m thinking about is going on the cruise I won on a radio station contest … and my sunglasses beep — a signal that a message is coming through intended for me and only me. Then I see: “Going on a cruise? When you get back, unpack your bags at your new home.” This is followed by, in my line of vision only, 3-D images of “my” room. The wallpaper, which is really nano-pigment, changes from looking like the northern woods to being a slideshow of my grandchildren’s faces to a bigger than life image of Brad Pitt, who has aged very gracefully, as I can see from the poster of him sans shirt.

These ladies don’t play fair. And that’s why I’ll move in. After all, I’ve outlived my darling husband and I never want to get married again (a compliment to him), and I lost my “supplemental retirement policy” in the Social Security collapse of 2015.

What is life like with Dorothy and Rose … and Blanche?
Imagine the cottage industries that will develop if our society does move toward a more communal living possibility. Dorothy will insist that we all have our own attorneys, since she’ll have drafted the partnership agreements. What if a roommate wants to leave with no notice? Who foots the rent?

I want to know who is paying for the renovations, and if I’ll get any equity in the house if I kick in a third. I mean, we do need three bathrooms, and how about three smaller refrigerators instead of one big one? I don’t want to have to forage through their salads to get to my leftover mashed potatoes. I don’t want my Guiness buried behind their juice boxes.

I want soundproofed walls, too. A really high R-factor, or whatever it is that a contractor needs to put between the walls so I don’t have to listen to old ladies snoring. How gross would that be? I grind my teeth in my sleep; they won’t like to hear that, either. So load up those walls with fiberglass or foam or whatever futuristic insulation then exists.

We need separate gardens, too, so figure landscaping that can accommodate different lifestyles, too. Ideally a landscaping plan with tall hedge perimeters, as I don’t want to see Dorothy sunbathing.

And I want, I want, I want … what else do I want that possibly could be the cornerstone of your own cottage industry for old women who don’t want to live alone and don’t want to live in a retirement home?

Think about it. Opportunity knocks.
A financial specialist that I also interviewed recently said that we now need well over $1 million dollars, on average, socked away for retirement to live a middle-class lifestyle after retiring. Not a wealthy lifestyle, mind you, but an “average middle class” one.

I laughed out loud at that (if you listen to that interview, you’ll hear me crack up, since I’d already read the Employee Benefits Research Institute’s 2009 Retirement Confidence Survey that says that 53% of workers in the U.S. have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments). The typical American household (headed by a 43-year-old) has just over $18,000 in savings! A million bucks I need now? That’s a hoot.
The only thing funnier is the idea that Social Security will still be paying out when I’m standing with a hand out to get back even a portion of the small fortune I’ve sunk into that over the years.

Maybe the next sitcom should be called “The Platinum Girls.”

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