It Wasn’t Always Better Back Then, Senile Agitation, and Slightly Macabre

Let’s just give old, agitated, belligerent, senile Gramps some Thorazine! That will calm his wrinkled ass down!

Never mind that:  Chlorpromazine (the generic name for Thorazineis not for use in psychotic conditions related to dementia.  Chlorpromazine may cause heart failure, sudden death, or pneumonia in older adults with dementia-related conditions.

Apparently, barring the possibility that a lot of old people back then were on Thorazine to treat tetanus,  this stuff must have killed off a few geezers back in 1960-whatever. Today we know better.  We get them hooked on Oxycontin now.

Tetanus does not look like it would bring a “peaceful death.”  Unless you’re a contortionist.

That reminds me, I probably should get a tetanus shot.  The last one I had was when I fell on the coffee table back in 2003 and had to have a buttload of stitches to fix the gash in my knee.  It left a pretty funky scar, and after the Lidocaine and stitches I couldn’t give a rat’s ass less about one more needle stick.  That was before I ended up diabetic and had to give myself shots every day.  That will put you off the fear of needles with the quickness, though I will grant that insulin shots are given subcutaneously (in the skin) and with a tiny, tiny short pen needle, so that’s no big deal anyway.

I’ve not encountered as many angry old people as I do angry young people.  Perhaps their type-A personalities kill the angry/disgruntled/perfectionist type people off young, so that the odds of living to be both old and pissed off at the world aren’t so good.  I’d like to think that age (and having more resources) can buy one a certain ability to forgo social interaction to a large degree, so the genuine piss ants out there quarantine themselves.  I know of one evil old bitty that was exactly like that.  She lived across the street from my parents when I was a little kid.  The only reason I was aware of her existence (and her seething rage) was that she subscribed to the newspaper.  Back then the kids that ran the paper route also had to collect the payments- usually once a month, but some people were so cheap you had to go collect every week.

The local paper was $1.35 a week.  Some asswipes made us chase them down every week- for $1.35.  Then again, today no parent in his/her right mind would let their kids go door to door to collect money for any reason, but those were more innocent times.

Thankfully Mrs. Crotchety paid by the month, but it was begrudgingly, and you had to listen to her tirade about how hard it was for her to wander the four feet from her chair to answer the door, how the paper is really crappy for how much you have to pay for it, and that whoever was delivering papers that day (either me or my sister- not the sadist, the almost normal one) had better be sure to put her paper in a plastic bag on the porch right next to the door because she wasn’t going to pay for a wet paper.

Mrs. Crotchety also had a bad habit of screaming out the door at neighborhood kids in the winter if they would dare to scoop up a handful of snow from her yard (even if obtained from the sidewalk) to throw a snowball.   If you did that, you risked having Mrs. Crotchety screeching out the door at you: “Put back my snow!  Right now or I’ll call the police!”

Don’t you brat kids go stealing my snow again!

The only good part of her threats was that she must have had the police on speed dial, because I think they learned to ignore her.  Then again, even in a real emergency, the police response time wasn’t so hot.  Not too long after Mrs. Crotchety died, my best friend almost got killed by her psycho boyfriend. It took the cops 23 minutes to show up after I called 911.  Had she not clobbered him with a hair spray can and knocked him through the shower door, he would have stabbed her to death.  At least 80’s hair was good for something.

Who would have thought?  Aquanet saves lives!

Anyway, old Mrs. Crotchety never had any visitors.  Her husband had died years and years earlier, and her kids had gotten the hell out of Dodge even before that.  The only time anyone came to her door was my sister or me, when we were collecting for the paper, and the unfortunate meter reader for the water company.  By the time Mrs. Crotchety died- by then she had to have been 90 at the very least- though I would guess about 115- my sister and I had long since moved beyond delivering the paper, so we were thankful not to have to encounter her.

Let’s hope someone took the “open casket funeral” off the table for Mrs. Crotchety.

It was the poor meter reader who smelled something funky.  It was about this time of year- high summer- when the health department finally investigated the house and discovered Mrs. Crotchety’s extremely decomposed corpse.  The entire house had to be gutted, and the health department had to have a HazMat crew come in to fumigate the joint.   Time of death?  The coroner opined that she probably expired sometime that previous February.  Since the furnace had stopped working, either she froze to death, or she died and then the furnace stopped (who knows?) so she didn’t really start to rot real good until April or May.

Nobody noticed mail piling up, because she had a slot in the door.  I’m sure the only mail she got was bills and her SS checks.  The only way anyone would have noticed mail piling up is if her entire living room would have filled up with mail.  I’m somewhat surprised the mailman didn’t smell something weird, but he was an incorrigible lush (sometimes you would find him napping propped up against a tree, or sitting in his truck) and a pervert who liked to read other people’s magazines (namely mine, as I would get supposedly “new” magazines defiled with peanut butter fingerprints all over them.)  I don’t think he noticed anything.  Perhaps the combo of rotgut liquor and a guilty conscience over defacing my National Lampoons killed off his olfactory faculties, or maybe he smelled worse than a rotting dead body.  I do know he was replaced eventually- when he got popped for DUI while driving the mail truck.

If you die alone and rot, it will leave a mark.

Mrs. Crotchety died before the days of the “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” buttons.  If she’d had one of those it would have saved the health department a lot of work.  Maybe that’s where that technology came from, because health departments across the country were tired of having to peel dead old fossils off the carpet.

Oh, and back in the day:

Did you know Ovaltine could make you wake up gay?

4 thoughts on “It Wasn’t Always Better Back Then, Senile Agitation, and Slightly Macabre

  1. whiteladyinthehood says:

    God, I really like you, Elysian Hunter. You hold nothing back…you kinda write like Smak in that – I’m horrifed but STILL laughin’ my ass off way! (I mean that as a COMPLIMENT!) We had someone in the Hood that was murdered and not found for a little while during the extreme heat of the summer last year…he actually had central air….but…that stained pic made me grimace and think of him!

  2. One of Dad’s buddies ended up with a Corvette (think the episode of MythBusters when they let a pig rot in the interior) that some dude blew his head off in. He’d only been in there to rot for a few days before his ex-wife found him. He had just been through a nasty divorce and the former old lady was set up to clean his clock. The car was in a garage, but again, it was high summer- so he was pretty ripe when she found him. The car reeked to holy high heaven.

    Dad’s buddy, seeing a bargain and a chance to score a ‘Vette drivetrain for next to nothing, ended up selling most of the car in pieces- everything but the upholstery and carpets where the stink and all the blood and rotten juice had sort of congealed. That reek will not come out of upholstery- anything porous is guaranteed to be ruined.

    I guess he got his final revenge on his ex. She got the car, alright, but she had to sell it for pennies on the dollar.

  3. So much to comment on.
    Let’s start with mean old people. I agree that there are many more angry young people than angry old people, and I think you may be on to something about the mellowing of age.
    But someone (I think it might have been one of my college professors, actually, although I don’t remember) once said, “Happy young people don’t grow up to be angry old people.”
    Growing up in a town with LOTS of old people, I saw the gamut. My next door neighbor (who died in the last five years) was a nice old lady who (although her real name was Esther) I never called anything but “Lady.” Even the other neighbors started calling her that, she liked it. We had a real old lady in the house behind us who used to tell us how much she enjoyed watching us play and how beautiful it was. We used to think that was funny, but now it breaks my heart a little.
    When we die, we all die alone, but there’s something terrible about being found by a complete stranger long, long after you’ve died. Most of my close family members who have died in recent years (mom & grandpa specifically) have died at home, which is where, if I have my druthers, I’ll die in about a million years. When I go, I wouldn’t mind if the person who first finds me was someone to whom I mattered.

  4. Usually I get along better with older people. I adored my grandparents (sadly, they’re all gone now) and I knew many older people who I enjoyed conversation and coffee with. Some are still above ground but most are not. But there was something just not right with Mrs. Crotchety- I have no idea whether she had always been nasty and bitter or if something happened to make her that way. Her own kids avoided her like the plague which makes me wonder.

    Death is the ultimate solitary activity, but I find it sad to know that so many people go through the process of dying alone. When Dad was in the rehab/nursing home, I walked past a number of people who were pretty much vegetative- and alone- dying lingering deaths with no one to so much as talk to them. Maybe Mrs. Crotchety died of something painless and sudden, like a brain aneurysm or cardiac death where you’re here one second and gone the next. One of my grandmothers died that way, and that would probably be my preferred Final Exit if I were offered a choice. Here one second, gone the next.

    I always wondered what happened to the drunken mailman too. After I had moved out (and before he was popped for DUI) Mom said that half the time they didn’t even get their bills, much less their periodicals through the mail, and that she discovered peanut butter fingerprints on her “McCalls” and “Glamour” mags- when she got them. I guess being a mail carrier would be a little bit depressing, but one could at least use a napkin before persuing others’ periodicals. I like my magazines without reminders of others’ lunches on them.

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