Tag Archives: old age

Retreat from reality

Just when I’d gotten used to constantly reciting my birth date and reminding myself of my fast-advancing age, I get smacked by another warning that my game is in the late innings. And by “smacked,” friends, I mean SMACKED, like going to that fish market where they throw the fish around and catching an Alaskan halibut right in the kisser.

It seems that not only is 60 not the new 40 after all, but 35 is the new 65. That’s the drift of this article about a luxury retreat designed to help Silicon Valley types cope with fears of early geezerdom. This feeling is driven by the breakneck pace of new software and a culture that demands “a limber, associative mind and an appetite for risk — both of which lessen with age.” As a result, people in their 30s and 40s are flocking to the retreat, at $5,000 for a week.

Oh dear. Get ready for a shock: these golden children of the revolution aren’t the first ones to have this problem. People whose jobs require a limber body, like construction workers, truckers, and restaurant servers can find their livelihoods at risk long before they’re “old” enough for Medicare. Besides, women have always faced discrimination based on their looks and age, and not just in Hollywood, politics, and TV newsrooms.

One of these angst-ridden folks at the retreat said, “I watch YouTube stars and all these things, and intellectually I get it, but emotionally I just can’t connect.” So what? Twenty-five years ago I couldn’t connect with Nirvana and Pearl Jam either. The grunge bands weren’t bad or untalented. Their music just didn’t speak to me like Patti Smith, Talking Heads, U2, and before that the Beatles, the Temptations, and lots of others did. I’d gotten older. It happens. It beats the hell out of the only available option.

Maybe this is a clash between their California ethos and my Midwestern one, but to me, you don’t need a shaman to just be yourself: warts, wrinkles, reading glasses and all. And please don’t zap your face with Botox or run to the Hair Club. That’ll just make you look and feel even more decrepit, broken-down, seedy, tottering, weather-beaten, worn out, haggard, creaky, and unsound. (As I’ve said before, a thesaurus is a very useful thing.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put fresh batteries in my hearing aids and update my playlist with some Lunch Duchess. I don’t know much about their music yet but they have one of the all-time great names for a rock and roll band.

Birth dazed

I hate my birthday. Not that there’s anything wrong with the date itself. I don’t share it with some famous person like Muhammad or Mel Brooks, or with an unhappy moment in history like the time the migrant caravan bombed Pearl Harbor. It’s not even because so many years have flown by since my original birthday, though it was slightly terrifying when my latest was the one Sir Paul McCartney wrote a tune about, and it wasn’t “When I’m 19, or “When I’m 28,” or “When I’m 35, 39, or even 49 or 59, FFS!”

No, the reason for this grump attack is that the birthday has suddenly become an indispensable form of ID, which compels me to state it, and thus be reminded of it, a lot more often than I’d like. Medical offices are the worst offenders. No matter why I’m calling, and lately I’ve been ringing up lots of docs about different issues, the voice on the other end always asks, “Date of birth?”

When I was a kid, I of course eagerly anticipated each DOB for the presents and cake. Later on I tried to ignore them, especially the milestones like the now-distant 30 and 40. Eventually, I grudgingly decided getting older is better than the alternative and made peace with the date. But I had to think about it only once a year.

Now, even if I called the doctor’s office five minutes before and I’m talking to the same person, they want my mm/dd/yyyy. And remember: the reason I’m calling in the first place is because my various faculties, faculty lunches, organs, pipes, pipe organs, Moogs, wellness plans, Marshall Plans, Marshall stacks, and other instruments of crepitude* are falling apart – and on top of that, they gotta remind me I’m older than God and dirt put together?

At least I’m still dealing with humans. The New Yorker has an amusing piece about the horde of robots trying to take our jobs, one of which was deep-sixed after trying to hug customers and calling out “Hello, gorgeous!” I think I can safely speak for every male member of our species in saying I do NOT EVER want a doc-bot to examine my prostate.


*The opposite of decrepitude. Right?

Anti-social security, or “Ten things to know about getting old”

Dear Sir,*

We’ve received your application for Social Security. We welcome you to the ranks of the senior beneficiary retirement subgroup, or as some of our younger staff call it, “Geezer Gulch.”

Before we can start payments, we need you to answer just a few questions to be sure you’re eligible. After all, we wouldn’t want to eviscerate the millennials’ future accept more money than we’re entitled to, would we?

  1. How long have you had that white hair exploding out of your ears and nose?
  2. Are you binge-watching “The Golden Girls” on TV Land and thinking Blanche was actually pretty hot?
  3. Do you understand these song lyrics? “When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps; Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps.”** If so, please explain them and define “Mugwumps” (Note: Calling us and singing over the phone are grounds for immediate, permanent loss of all benefits).
  4. Is your current bedtime earlier than your bedtime as a kid? Can you even remember that far back?
  5. Can you still put away the Rolling Rock, Canadian Club, Stoly, Moet, and Purple Jesus like you used to?
  6. If so, is your drinking just one more sad attempt to escape the emptiness and anguish of your wasted, humdrum life?
  7. Could you ever have been a contender? Or were you always a bum?
  8. Do you remember “dial-up,” “VCRs,” “cassette tapes,” “black-and-white TVs,” “leaded gas,” “the milkman,” “bi-partisanship,” “common courtesy,” and “common sense”?
  9. Is that really you in that rock festival video on YouTube, with hair down to your navel, a pink and green tie-dye shirt, and what seem to be no pants, jumping up and down on a car hood while screaming “WHIPPING POST”?
  10. Please estimate your annual Viagra intake. This won’t affect your benefits but it’ll sure make us feel better about our own TQ (tumescence quotient).

*We dug this form of address out of the archives because we know it’s what people your age are used to! See how dedicated we are?
**This is from “Creek Alley” by the Mamas and the Papas, who’d probably be the Great-Grandmamas and Grandpapas by now.