During the first January blast, our daughters invited my lovely wife Nancy and I to join them and their children, at River Valley Tube Slide just off Highway 7 / Elginfield Road, close to St. Mary’s.
My first reaction was negative. Saying no can come almost as naturally to a senior as it does to a two-year-old. And when you’re a working senior, by Friday evening your idea of tubing is a pair of tube socks and a warm fireplace, not rocketing down a hill on a glorified inner tube.
I’m not one of those seniors who revels in “Look at what Grandpa can still do”. One of my brothers-in-law has had enough concussion scares that I hope he never takes another ladder out of the garage. And I attended the funeral of a friend’s father who perished at the age of 85 after tumbling from the roof of his house.
Grandpa sky-diving doesn’t figure in my Freedom 75 plans. As for you senior marathon runners? God bless you, but the occasional turn on the elliptical machine at the light setting is enough for some of us. I admire the retired doctor in Aylmer who claimed to get his exercise by shoving himself out of his easy chair and crossing the room for more ice for his vodka.
But having rejected tubing, I could not the resist the pull of that magic word: grandchildren. And it was fun to watch them.
However I noticed myself responding to the ticket price in a way common to seniors since Moses wore Trudeau socks: “How much did you say that cost?”
An evening of tubing for a family of four runs $100 without any food or drink.
One problem for older people is the numbers we carry in our shrinking little brains. When Nancy and I had our first go-around as media moguls in 1975 (in a newspaper ownership structure Forbes should have dubbed “hippie commune”), $3.82 was the hourly rate at one unionized factory. Assembly line workers in Ontario now average $20.75 an hour.
In 1975 dollars, the tubing experience would have cost $18.41 for a factory-working family of four. Or $9.20 if you factor in two-income families rather than one. That sounds eminently reasonable.
It just doesn’t feel that way, which is the main reason the senior population ends up acting, well, cheap. Until you say “cruise ship” or “casino smorg”.