Sage: Wise guy from Maine asks

if new sports crop up in Sunbelt

Dear Sage:


I like to exercise, but I’m getting bored after two seasons of routine activities at my little snowbird country club in Florida, where I spend nine months each year. I’ve had quite enough of golf, tennis, sailing, walking briskly among the palm trees, and swimming at the beach or at the pool. I’m wondering if other retirement communities down south are offering more creative sports that might hold my interest. I’m happy to move at the drop of a sailing cap. Thank you.


                     – Big Ole Bored Earl in Frozen Duck Boot, Maine


Dear Big Earl:


   The Sage, upon reading your query, was first tempted to get on his high horse and remind you that you are one lucky duck, boots and all. However, the Sage can no longer climb up on a horse at his age. And then he noticed that the postmark on your envelope was Orono, Maine, which has a student newspaper with a tradition of satire since Stephen King was a columnist there. So we are suspicious, but will take the high road anyway, if not the high horse, and assume that you are simply as spoiled as a lobster that’s been out of the tank for a month.

   It is understandable if you’ve had it with extreme snow shoveling, frostbite snow-shoeing and skiing, and going out to your front yard in the morning to get the newspaper in fifteen-below temperatures while wearing six pairs of long johns and a mad-bomber hat that leaves your nose sticking out like a steam pipe pumping endless clouds of vapor.

   In the Sunshine State and indeed across the Sunbelt, you will be truly amazed at the new and fun activities that are popping up among the ever-ingenious Baby Boomers. Here are just a few that the Sage has witnessed (remember social distancing as long as you should!):

   • Synchronized bocce ball. This team sport will enhance your spatial, time-and-motion, motor and cognitive skills. And the utter exhilaration you get from winning a match will be among the highlights of your month. Caveat: Ensure that judges are younger than a hundred and twenty and have reasonably good eyesight so that they can assess each performance fairly. Otherwise, players will get frustrated, start yelling and go ballistic, like John McEnroe used to do at tennis umpires. Not a pretty sight, especially in wrinkly old Bermuda shorts and knee-high white socks.

   • Solo golf. This is very popular in your adopted state, because you don’t have to embarrass yourself with a ridiculously awkward half-swing or 42 whiffs per round. You can cheat on every shot and still shoot under par! Nor do you have to worry about tee-time lotteries a week in advance when it’s really hot and muggy – no one’s on the course after 9:30 a.m. This is a terrific time to perfect your swing, learn to feel comfortable talking to yourself, and forget every little annoyance in your life, such as what day it is, which state you’re in, or what you call that club that you use on the green to push that little white thing into the ground. This is mainly because it’s three hundred and twenty-seven degrees with 99% humidity on some days. Please be forewarned that you occasionally may encounter cart drivers who are staring straight ahead, unaware of their surroundings, and not even noticing you. These will be people with handicaps at or near seven hundred and fifty, which is the standard retirement course cutoff, and they have likely been playing for seventy-two hours straight. They may be on the fifth hole by now, and probably need a tanker truck filled with water, along with some prunes.

   • Frisbee beer pong. Forget the boredom of shuffleboard! This uses the same general principle – you set up a two-way lane with scoring triangles on each end. Place huge tubs filled with beer and ice inside those triangles and let the frisbees fly. Two points if you land in the Budweiser tub, seven in the Arrogant Bastard, ten in the Moose Drool. It’s great to establish your course on a big lawn or field, although using your community’s golf fairways and greens is not recommended. Also, this should be a not-pets zone, as you don’t want dogs catching the frisbees and running away with them. But once the beer is gone, who cares?

   • Tennis with eight people on each side of the court. This is not for the most active seniors, as the goal here is to swing at the ball once every ten minutes when it comes your way, but there are so many players that you never really have to move. The main challenge here is figuring out whose turn it is to serve, as most players can’t keep track of the rotation accurately. The good news: Your best server gets a lot more chances! This format also works well for pickleball, with six players per side, all sitting in chairs. These sports are particularly popular in communities with three hundred thousand residents and two courts.

   • Soccer bowling. Have a tough time bending down to pick up a heavy ball? Is your rolling technique not what it used to be? Hire an attendant to tee up the ball so that you can kick it down the lane! Strongly suggested: soft-soled boot with OSHA-approved steel toes, specifically ‘basic 200-joule toecap protection, including compression 15,000 newtons,’ whatever that means. Kind of sounds like a cookie, but probably isn’t.

   • Swimming and water aerobics at midnight. This requires great agility and nimbleness, as you usually have to climb a fence around your association’s pool because they lock the gates once happy hour starts at 2 p.m. Just think of the fun of sneaking in somewhere, like you did when you were eight! You can swim to your heart’s delight and even pretend that you’re leaving Michael Phelps in your wake. Also, if you are one of the 76 million retirees who may not be entirely comfortable entering a bathing suit contest, this will remove all of the stress. Unless, of course, you get stuck on the fence and have to yell for help.

   • And for those foul-weather days, or when the heat is overwhelming? Why not try extreme flossing or extreme nail-clipping indoors? Stay healthy, practice good grooming habits, and get plenty of vigorous exercise, all in one! First is extreme flossing, which can be done alone or as a couple. While you jump up and down, floss your teeth for 15 minutes, exercising your calves, ankles, arms, shoulders, wrists, fingers and heart. And after you’re done, enjoy plenty of extra household exercise while cleaning your mirror, your bathroom vanity top, the floor and your spouse’s clothing. As for extreme nail-clipping, bend over until you’re ready to scream ‘uncle,’ count the number of clippings that you perform, then crawl around the floor on your hands and knees looking for every single tiny sliver of nail. This can take 45 minutes, unless you discover those last sharp clippings in the bottom of your feet, in which case you can add foot-washing for more workout time. As the last step, bend over and file your toenails until they are as rounded and smooth as required by the International Extreme Toenail Clipping Association. Remember: if you cut corners, it only hurts you!

   So clearly, Big Earl, there’s something for everyone. The Sage would suggest only that you leave Frozen Boot by mid-August. You don’t want to get stuck in the frozen tundra during an unseasonably early blizzard and have to shovel six feet of snow and ice off the roof, do you?

   Here’s to warmth and good health! Oh, and fine toenails.

   Humbly Yours,

   The Sage