By Lyonel Doherty
Shocking . . . just utterly shocking about some of our seniors today.
And it was all uncovered discreetly (with many giggles) during the 90-plus Tea at the Oliver Senior Centre on Wednesday.
For example, 93-year-old Fern Rehbein was asked when was the last time she had too much to drink.
“Yesterday,” she said to a chorus of laughter from other tea sippers at her table.
She recalled having too much alcohol on her wedding day 71 years ago. In fact, her parents threw her into bed with her clothes on that night.
When Fern was a youth, her idea of a really good party was going to a dance with her two brothers.
And what does she think of the music these days?
Too loud, especially hip-hop, she noted. That’s why she likes western music.
Has she ever considered getting a tattoo or body piercing?
“No, I don’t want any tattoos . . . that hurts.”
But then 88-year-old Bonnie Dunn rolled up her sleeve and proudly showed off an ink tattoo of her cat.
She explained that her two sons are tattoo artists on the side. Four years ago when she came out of the hospital they surprised her with something that would make her feel better – a tattoo of her cat, Ollie, her pride and joy.
“And guess what, when I go, Ollie, because he’s 15 now . . . the two of us are being cremated and flying over Anarchist Mountain (where our ashes will be scattered).”
“With your cat?” the writer asked again, unsure if he heard it right.
“Yes, with my cat!”
When asked what she thought of youth today, Bonnie said they’re not being brought up to expectations.
“When we said supper is five o’clock, you better be home at five o’clock.”
Back to Fern, did she ever kiss on the first date? “Oh yes,” she said.
She pointed out that the cardinal sin in those days was drinking alcohol.
Comparing the youth of yesteryear with those of today, Fern said it appears they get too much handed to them without working hard enough for it.
When asked about the justice system, she said the courts could do a better job deterring criminals, agreeing there is more injustice than justice.
What trouble do you get into at your age?”
“I’m perfect,” she said to another round of laughter.
At the far side of the room, 90-year-old Roy Pugh was having a grand time with his wife.
When asked about his partying days, he said there weren’t too many because there was a war on. But his favourite drink during those get-togethers was warm English beer (he pronounced it “beeah”).
He also admittedly “chased the girls” but never knew what to do once he caught one.
“What do you think of hip-hop today?” the elder was asked.
“Who (is that)?” he replied.
The music kids listen to these days.
“Call it noise,” he said.
Roy said kissing on the first date was not allowed when he was growing up. Okay, so how many dates did you have to wait to get a kiss?
He doesn’t know because he didn’t stay with one girl long enough to find out. “I had a different one every time.”
So, he was quite the lady’s man then?
“Not really. I just don’t think they were.”
Roy was a stage actor for some time, so he definitely knew how to act around the girls. “But they weren’t stupid,” he was quick to point out.
Recalling his youth, Roy said kids used to get a “belt around the ears” if they swore. They never used the F-word back then; it was more “bugger off” or “bloody hell.”
“If you were caught swearing at school you got a back-hander or . . .”
And it’s true: mothers really did wash their children’s mouths out with soap, carbolic soap, too.
Roy said the big thing back then that’s different from now is that the youth made their own entertainment.
“It’s amazing what you can do with a piece of rope and a rubber tire.”
During the war, he remembers being bombed and shot at while going to school.
“The Germans came down and machine gunned the school playground,” he said. Despite that horrifying experience, the kids found it fascinating and rushed out from the air raid shelters to pick up the spent cartridges and keep them as souvenirs.
Roy was asked his opinion of the justice system and immediately said it’s lousy.
“I don’t think there is any justice. You get people that have committed horrible crimes and they get three weeks.”
Asked what trouble he gets into these days, Roy said he got married four years ago.
In a whisper, the writer asked him what he does for excitement now.
Without delay, the senior said, “Sex!”
Are you serious?