Shell Shocked: Shuffleboard — the kiss of retirement
Beware of shuffleboard. It is an insidious crossover into a pseudo-vegetative state. Once you start playing it you automatically enter full retirement mode. You may be gainfully employed and work a full fifty-hour week. You may be an avid skier, a bungee diver, a mountain climber and a squash whiz. But once you pick up a shuffleboard broom and slide your first weighted puck across that narrow and elongated court, you will slip into a brand new world.
From that day on, a spell will come over you. You have crossed the retirement Rubicon — and there’s no turning back.
When calls come into your office and your assistant tells the callers that you’re out this morning playing shuffleboard, you will lose all your customers. Your customers will assume that you have retired and will give their business to your competitors. There is no place in their corporate planning for a shuffleboard groupie.
If you have no intention of retiring, stay away from shuffleboard. Some retired friends may invite you over to their retirement communities. Do not go. Make an appointment instead with your dentist to have that troublesome molar removed.
However, if you do decide that you’ve lost all control over your better judgment and visit friends at a retirement community, the first thing that will strike you is that there are 500 shuffleboard courts. That’s one court for every two people and every single shuffleboard court is in full use. There are usually two people on either side with that retirement look in their eyes as they slide those hypnotic pucks back and forth.
Every so often screams of joy erupt as the puck slides into a box and doesn’t touch any lines. This is the goal of shuffleboard — to get as many pucks as you can into boxes without touching lines. Your opponents may try to knock your puck out of the boxes and off the court. If they’re successful your screams of joy may turn into wails of despair. Either way, regardless of where your puck winds up, you are through with active life and into the world of retirement.
Be forewarned: do not venture onto this court if you have any intention of working the next day. Because if you pick up the shuffleboard broom and begin to play your brain will turn into molasses; your thoughts will no longer be concerned about the next day’s appointments but on how to get your pucks to obey your commands.
Your retired friend may suggest you try your hand at shuffleboard. He may hand you one of the brooms and urge you to try to hit a puck down the court. If you do, this life as you know it will change forever. As you begin to play shuffleboard you will immediately notice a massive change in your body. Your brain will begin to fry. And after your very first game of shuffleboard, your newly fried brain will begin to think of that comfortable hammock waiting for you afterwards.
And after the hammock, you will put together an afternoon schedule that will include an early-bird special followed by an hour’s worth of pasting your collection of Polynesian postage stamps into albums, followed by counting the newly captured poppy seeds in your jar, followed by early bedtime. These are the early symptoms of retirement.
You will have succeeded in lowering the bar of your physical fitness requirements. Between shuffleboard contests you will be stuffing peanut butter and jelly potato chips into your mouth while watching reruns of “Father Knows Best.”
Every day will be taken up by more shuffleboard as the transformed nerve endings in your brain begin to eliminate all other extraneous thoughts and actions it considers non-vital. Instead, your brain will focus on identifying fellow retirees whose only purpose is to shuffle pucks on a shuffleboard court. You will revise the meaning of your life to emphasize winning at shuffleboard, even if it means hitting the puck into your opponent’s head occasionally to prove that you’re king of the court. Yes, shuffleboard is that singular moment in your life when you know that your career is now history. There’s no turning back because there is no antidote. Once engaged in the shuffleboard shuffle you are officially retired. You may as well wear a big letter “R” on your chest.