The plaque looks so authentic that I have to remind myself that I am standing on what was pastureland a mere decade ago. Inside the saloon the walls are covered in dark wood, and heavy drapes hang from several large windows. An enormous Tiffany-esque skylight catches my eye, as do two-dozen line-dancers keeping time to a country-western tune. Many of the stools along the bar are filled with retirees holding draft beers. I look at my watch. It’s just past two in the afternoon. “Line dancing is very popular here because you can do it without a partner,” Betsy explains. “They say the only problem with being a widow in The Villages is that you’re so busy you forget you are one.”
Ever the host, Betsy suggests I drop my luggage off at their house and join them for dinner. “They call it ‘Florida’s Friendliest Hometown’—and that’s just what it is,” she says as she gets into her Miata. “Everyone’s so friendly because everyone is so happy. So make yourself comfortable at our house and enjoy your stay.”
Check out AARP Bulletin Today's Q&A with Andrew Blechman. Then visit our Sound Off page to share your thoughts about age-segregated retirement communities.
Excerpt from Leisureville: Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias by Andrew D. Blechman, published May 2008. Leisureville(c) 2008 by Andrew D. Blechman and reprinted with permission of the publisher, Atlantic Monthly Press.