It was one of those cold and rainy days where the thought of getting up and getting dressed and doing anything exciting was not on my radar. Truth be told, I was anxious to finish my holiday cards. I had completed the personal writings but I still needed to address the envelopes, affix the stamps and walk them down to Avanti’s mini-post office, where we residents each have our own mailbox to go along with the large outgoing mail box drop.

Ironically, the outgoing mail drop area is where all the best incoming gossip is received. It is our home equivalent of the office water cooler. Sometimes I make up stuff just for sport once in a while to see if I will hear about it the next day. I call it sport gossip, because like any sport it takes skill – you must be able to fabricate something interesting enough for it to stick to the ribs, to be worthy of repetition.

One time I told another resident, Diana, who had recently joined The Memory Care Unit, that Gwendolyn brought a can of canned cranberries to a potluck dinner she hosted in the private dining room, but did not even remove the cranberry jelly cylinder from the can – she just plopped the open can down on the table and put a spoon in it. No slicing it, preparing pieces in a circular overlapping fashion on a bed of lettuce – nothing! The next day at Strength Class I overheard Sam telling Lillian this delicious “Deadbeat Hostess” story. I wasn’t sure what was more satisfying… the fact my faux story had “made it” or that Diana had remembered it!

But, back to the holiday card-sending saga. I steadied my stack of cards, address book and roll of stamps on my lap desk and was looking for my pen – getting ready to write when…

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. I ignored it.

I was not in the mood for company. And I had a job to do: address, stamp, deliver and reward myself with the giving or receiving of gossip at the mail drop. That was my plan and I was sticking to it.

Another knock at the door.

“Darlene, it’s Wes, the new guy,” said the voice that was muffled through the door.

My eyebrow raised. What in the world was HE doing knocking at my door? I just met the fellow yesterday at Taste. Sheesh! I waited for a few seconds. Then curiosity got the best of me and I clamored out of bed and opened the door.

“Get dressed. Everyone cancelled for the Portofino Shopping Center Excursion due to the weather – what wimps! – so it’s just me now. I thought maybe you’d be so kind as to join me – it could be our ‘Two for the Road’ adventure today – like the film we talked about at dinner,” he said.

I looked him over, but didn’t say anything. I was too busy thinking.

“Too much too soon?” he sheepishly inquired.

I turned to look out the window (the sun was beginning to peek through), looked at my watch and before I could say that I wasn’t even dressed yet…

“You’re beautiful. You don’t need makeup. Just get—”

“You had me at beautiful,” I interrupted. “Meet me in the van in 5 minutes.” I didn’t give him the chance to reply as I closed the door.

As I dressed, I kept thinking about The Portofino Shopping Center with its gorgeous sculpted Roman water fountains and 10-foot waterfalls that surrounded the retail shops and restaurants. I always enjoyed the Avanti off-site excursions, but today the old world European atmosphere that this particular location promised made me feel like I was readying for a trip to the beloved boot-shaped country itself. Naturally, I opted for an Audrey Hepburn look with a head scarf, rain slicker and vintage purse. My stack of holiday cards spilled onto the floor as I grabbed my cane. I would clean them up later! I had a date! “Two for the Road” my ass – this was my “Roman Holiday”!

When I finally made it to Avanti’s porte cochère, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it stood like a stealth bomber… Avanti’s giant new 8-passenger shiny black van – like a Hampton Jitney – the kind of van posh Manhattanites take to the Hamptons for the weekends. Wow! I was star-struck. I steadied myself on my cane when suddenly, like in the film Transformers (which I had seen with my grandson a few years ago), the right side of the van split in half, then a ramp robotically maneuvered itself out and down to the ground, revealing Wes inside in his wheelchair. He was sitting comfortably, hooked into the van’s unique safety system.

“Your chariot awaits,” he smiled with outstretched arms.

“I like how you roll, Wes,” I said as I sat down in the cushiony seat beside him.

Pronto!” Wes said to the driver.

The sun shone brightly as the Avanti Van started up and began its journey to the Italian Riviera. Wes and I donned our sunglasses and gazed out the large tinted windows. We felt like movie stars in a limousine. I couldn’t help but think of all the sport gossip I could spread about myself and the new guy, Wes, at the mail drop tomorrow – splashing and kissing together with our clothes all wet in the Trevi Fountain replica. The reality was, we’d probably buy presents for our grandchildren, pet the pets in the pet store and talk about our own past pets over a great Italian lunch together—probably proving to be even sweeter than sexy gossip.