This afternoon I took the boys for a swim. Nothing odd about that, I hear you say. And you’re right. The only thing that’s different is that we went at a time of day that we never normally go.
As I sat in the mixed steam room with three strangers, a head bobbed round the door.
“Excuse me” it said, “have any of you seen my pants?”
And there she was, a vision of…. well… Hmmm. How to describe her? OK – she was probably at least 75 years old, wearing a knitted woolly hat, thick woolly ankle socks, a dress, and a rather confused expression.
“No, sorry, we haven’t!” came our reply, as we all stifled our laughter. And off she went.
Later, when I went to the changing rooms, she was still there. She didn’t seem to remember having asked me before, so again she asked if I knew the whereabouts of her pants. Clearly, she was very confused. It did even cross my mind that the woolly hat on her head might in fact be a pair of knickers.
“It’s not the end of the world” she continued. “I can easily go home without them.”
It’s puerile, I know, but I couldn’t help but comment “Good job it’s not a windy day!”
Finally, after a further 10 minutes fruitless searching, she gave up the hunt and went home. And I began to think.
In 30-40 years time, that could be me. I wondered whether she was developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Does she have children or family who are aware of her condition and keep an eye out for her?
I always remember as a child, visiting my Grandfather in hospital. He was in a ward full of elderly people, of varying mental capacity, who didn’t seem to have a single visitor between them. Even as a seven year old, I could appreciate how sad it was. So as I started to get dressed, I decided that I would have a word with the staff, to see whether she had any ‘next of kin’ or someone they could alert about her confused state.
And that’s when I discovered…. Damn it… I’d lost my pants! No, seriously. I had no pants in my bag. I started to get the giggles about it. The prospect of being demented seemed suddenly much more real.
So I had a word with the staff as I left, in the hope that they would find someone to call about this poor old woman.
And me? I went home commando. And the kids are STILL laughing about it…