We–Judy, me, and our 27-year old son–lowered the club’s dining room’s mean age considerably. (Judy and I would have lowered it considerably by ourselves.) This club spent $10 million to upgrade its facilities to attract younger members, a plan my father-in-law thought had dubious merit when it was announced. Events proved him right. Younger members are joining, if 65 year-old couples count as young blood. About 10% of the homes that are part of the club are in foreclosure or behind in club dues. Club rules impose serious restraints on homeowners’ ability to sell, restraints that are subject to court challenge. Mort, thankfully, is not affected since he lives elsewhere. Despite the troubling economic undercurrent the dining room was full, and I enjoyed another Stranger in a Strange Land experience as (1) a longtime member of no clubs, (2) a child of the club membership’s generation, and (3) a gentile in a self-described Jewish club. The $10 million was spent tastefully. The bar and dining room were warm, open, light, quietly elegant. The bathroom was one of the five nicest I’ve set foot in. The food was quite good. Mort and Dalia table hopped, shaking hands and air-kissing. The membership was tan and surprisingly fit, walkers notwithstanding. One face-lift continued to draw my attention, a mask-like visage rigidly secured to its bearer. The convivial mood was irresistable. Mort leaned over mid-meal and said “you are seeing the end of a generation.” At 87 he enjoys each day as it comes, his body frail but his mind sharp. Recently he took up bridge after a 30-year hiatus, a new intellectual and social activity. I admire and respect that he refuses to sit still.
Returning from the club I had another authentic South Florida experience. Dalia drove us to the club but Mort slid behind the wheel for the drive home. Samuel saw my raised eyebrows and said “you will make it back okay. It may take until tomorrow to get there.” Our speed never exceeded 40 mph, including the mile on I-95. Cars passed on the right and left, resigned by experience to slow-moving speed bumps piloted by the elderly. But we made it home safely.