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The Boomer Roomer

You see yourself as a caring baby boomer?

Should more people have this tattoo

Should more people have this tattoo

If you live in Portland, Oregon, add a twist to keep it weird enough to fit in.

Your kids are grown, maybe moved out.

Your parents haven’t moved in with you and you haven’t moved in with them.

Call it living the dream with your wife, husband, or partner.

You’ve got space to roam, room to do things you’ve always wanted.

Break out the old plan. This room is the music studio. That room is the study. Over there is the yoga retreat.

Maybe it’s all the same room, but you’ve still got plans.

Then you get a phone call from an old boomer friend, perhaps the friend of an old friend. They need a place to stay, and you’re telling yourself, “Stay away.”

How will that work out?

  • An old friend once came to your house while you were out of town. Your house sitter let her in after she said she was there to do some gardening. She drank all the booze in the house, made a run at the house sitter, then passed out on your bed. On your side.

When you ask about it later she says, “What’s the big deal. I washed the pillow case.”

You ask how so much dirt got in the house and she says, “The world is full of dirt, man. You can’t keep it out.”

You take notes on how that might happen.

  • The old friend just weathered a miserable divorce. He calls to say he’s ready to start dating, but needs surgery, then a place to recuperate. You ask about the surgery and he waves three fingers, then two, and says, “Taking the crew down from three to two, if you know what I mean.” You don’t. For a week you are his maid/waiter. He never eats all the food on his plate or drinks everything in his cup. And he’s a spill threat.

You ask him for a favor a few months later and he says, “Yeah, I’d like to but I’ve got a date. I knew this would happen with you, too. I stay a night or two at your place and you think I’m your slave? Not even, man.”

You take notes for the future.

  • A friend of your wife, husband, or partner says they need a place to stay when they come to town. They talk like they’re making reservations. “I need a Queen size bed with one blanket tucked in loosely. I can’t sleep with my feet trapped. A glass of water. I read at night so I need quiet. And I sleep in, so I need quiet then too. No door slamming, loud voices, or phone calls. That’s not asking too much, is it?”

They sleep in your kid’s room and your kid gets the couch. They complain about the mattress, the blanket, and the noisy neighbors.

When they get assigned to the couch with a sleeping bag, it hurts their feelings.

“I want to sleep upstairs like before,” they say.

“Be a good camper,” you tell them. “Just no fires. And we’ll be up early, so be ready for that.”

“But I need my sleep.”

If you’re a giving person, keep giving. Someone else’s behavior shouldn’t guide you.

Boomers are used to hitting the couch, hitting the road, and bringing it all back home with adventurous style. But we’re a little older now.

Is it fair to say our personal space has grown more personal, that any trespassing on it upsets us?

No, we keep an eye out for friends who know the drill. If they don’t, they’ll find new friends they can complain about.

Who’s had the guest who wouldn’t leave? Drop your story in comments.

About David Gillaspie
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