The other day I was having dinner with friends. For some reason the conversation turned to The Villages, an enormous, sprawling, planned retirement community in central Florida, between Orlando and Gainesville, where tens of thousands of seniors live and residents ride around in souped-up and tricked-out golf carts. And one of my friends mentioned that The Villages is known for something else: it has apparently got an unusually high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — higher than in surrounding, non-retiree communities.
I decided to check that out, and learned two things. First, The Villages is so big it has its own newspaper, at Villages-News.com. And second, the newspaper views the STD story as sufficiently serious to warrant a recent news story — one that treats the tales of wild sex and rampant STDs at The Villages to be an “urban myth,” attributable to an ill-advised comment by a Villages gynecologist in 2006 and a later book and news stories about individual seniors and their sexual escapades. The article notes that statistics indicate that there hasn’t been a surge in STD rates in The Villages, points out that in a community so massive — the article says The Villages now is home to 125,000 people, almost all of whom are 55+ and retired — some are going to want to drink and get frisky, and concludes: “So like any town in the country, it’s going to have a certain number residents who sleep around and acquire STDs.”
Well, okay then! I’m not sure that the Villages-News.com story fully debunks the STD story, but mostly I had this reaction as I read the story: who would have thought there is a place in central Florida where 125,000 seniors live together and drive around in cutesy golf carts, and that 125,000 people would view that as the ideal setting for their retirement?