Turning 65 isn’t as hard as it sounds. If you keep breathing long enough it’s bound to happen.
It used to be the age when people retired, started receiving Social Security benefits, and began using words such as “cruise,” “coupons” and “Winnebago” more often, and “commute,” “org chart,” and “spreadsheet” less often. Nowadays, 65 is associated with “speed limit” rather than “golden years.”
This is partly because we are, on average, living longer than people used to, especially women who tend to glide right past us frail, burned out men. There’s also Hitler, whom I blame for starting World War II, thus taking millions of Americans away from the important business of baby-making for years. These Americans suddenly got back to it with post-war, single-minded vigor, resulting in my generation, the Boomers, and messing up the Social Security actuarial assumptions.
On the other hand, without the war my parents would not have met while serving together in the Marine Corps. They would not have met otherwise, Brooklyn and Mohawk, N.Y., not being in the same school system or, seemingly, on the same planet. So without World War II you wouldn’t be reading this. If you aren’t enjoying today’s column, blame that on Hitler, too.
Age 65 is the new 64. I think most of us who have two-digit ages starting with a 6 should just consider ourselves as Sixty-Somethings.
As the emcee at a Pacific Coast TV awards event said last week, “Nobody gets out of here alive,” an ominous statement to make in a crowded theater, though the only stampede was to the bar. With this perspective, whether it is healthy or self-delusional, I am not fixated on mortality as I stare 65 in the face.
Not everyone has adopted my Sixty-Something attitude, especially complete strangers who have suddenly taken a keen interest in my impending demise, sending me countless offers for things I don’t want, such as a reverse mortgage, pre-paid cremation, an oxygen pump, guaranteed-issue life insurance with very low benefits for high premiums, various herbal “cures” for tinnitus, and something promising to make me “be the man she wants you to be.”
This last offer sounded at least slightly interesting, so I asked Susy, my long-suffering wife of 43 years, who she wants me to be. She gave the politically correct answer that I’m moderately tolerable as I am, but, as they say, there’s no accounting for tastes.
Let’s pretend she had replied, without hesitation, “George Clooney.” As a Fifty-Something, Clooney would be trading up, and I can imagine that he might have many millions of other advantage$.
But there’s a problem with this little fantasy life we’re cooking up for Susy. Clooney is married to Amal Alamuddin. If you’ve seen one of Clooney’s dream girls you’ve seen Amal.
firstname.lastname@example.org wonders if this column is the first time Winnebago, Amal Alamuddin and Hitler have appeared together in a story.