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Jinny’s article will be written this week by her daughter, Adele Anderson.
I remember when birthdays were fun events. I vaguely recall looking forward to the anniversary of my entrance into the world with excited anticipation and awakening on said day with a profound sense of joy.
About ten years ago I came to the conclusion that, since birthdays had long ago ceased to be an occasion I experienced with anything remotely resembling joy, I would officially stop paying any attention to them until such a time as I felt grateful to be having another one at all.
Over the past decade I have managed to adhere to this mandate with varying degrees of success. This year, someone out there was bound and determined that I wasn’t going to ignore it.
I opened my mail the other day to discover that I had received an invitation to become a proud member of the AARP. I confess I was shocked. I hadn’t seen this one coming.
Just because I have attempted to studiously ignore a decade of birthdays doesn’t mean I am the least bit confused regarding my actual age. As a matter of fact, I make it a point to never hide it from anyone and volunteer the information willingly. Hiding one’s age is a lot like wearing a padded bra or a toupee. It only works if you don’t let anyone too close to you. It is also a sure-fire way to appear utterly pathetic.
So, I know exactly how old I am and I don’t need anyone to remind me. Particularly not the AARP.
When I opened the official notice of my impending Senior Citizenship, I must have visibly blanched because my disgustingly young 19-year-old daughter asked me what was wrong.
“Nothing at all.” I choked out.
“Then why do you suddenly look like death sucking on a lemon?” she inquired.
This was an unfortunate choice of words on her part. I instantly envisioned myself requiring some fiber and a little nap. She grabbed the offending missive from my hand .
This was an unfortunate choice of words on her part. I instantly envisioned myself requiring some fiber and a little nap. She grabbed the offending missive from my hand and read it. Her lips started to twitch and halfway through it she was screeching with unrestrained laughter. She obviously found something she read outrageously funny. I must have missed that part.
I snatched the letter back and retreated from the room with what I hoped appeared as haughty dignity and not a petulant hissy-fit.
After reading the entire thing twice I not only failed to discover anything even remotely amusing in it, I also couldn’t find a single item in it which in any way indicated why I should be thrilled to be ancient enough to join the AARP. I decided to take it into work and question one of the few people even more decrepit by a few years than I was who might already be a member.
The following day found me sitting across my desk from a marginally more senior, senior than myself who I proceeded to interrogate.
“I got an invitation to join the AARP in the mail yesterday.” I told him.
“Ouch” he replied with a painful wince.
“Exactly.” I responded.
“Still bleeding?” He asked.
“I have managed to patch myself up sufficiently, thank you.” I sniffed.
He sighed mournfully. “When I got mine it made me want to go out and do something young and stupid like get drunk and stay out all night.”
“Did you do it?” I asked.
“Nope. I bought a motorcycle.”
“Same thing.” I said.
“Yep.” He looked rather sad and disappointed.
“Here’s what I don’t get.” I told him. “The letter I got mentions all sorts of nifty stuff I will eventually get, but not much that I get right now.”
“That’s because you aren’t old enough,” he told me.
I pondered this for a moment. “If I’m not old enough, why did they send it to me?”
“Because they want you to join now before you become a genuine Senior Citizen.”
I blinked at him stupidly for a moment and asked, “Is this like being a “pre-teen”? Am I a “pre-senior” or something?”
“Something like that,” he answered.
“And they are sending this to me now so I can, what…? Practice? Are they afraid that I might not get it right when it counts?”
He looked uncomfortable. Actually, I suppose they want your membership fees to help pay for lobbyists.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Lobbyists to present issues important to the elderly, a group of which, I am not, as yet, technically a member?”
“Right,” he agreed.
“So, I don’t get any discounts at movie theaters or for Friday night liver and onion dinner specials at my local diner?” I asked.
“Not yet,” he said.
“I see.” I murmured. “So they sent me this thing, made me feel roughly as old as the Rosetta Stone, provided my children with an occasion for entirely inappropriate amusement at my expense, gave my co-workers at least a month’s worth of material to make jokes about me, and violated my personal 10-year mandate against birthdays just so I can pay them for the privilege of getting used to the idea of being a Senior Citizen before I actually become one?”
He looked a little confused. “Er…since you put it that way, I guess so.”
“Well” I said, snapping upright in my chair, “Isn’t it fortunate then, that despite my advanced years, I have managed to retain sufficient mental alertness to recognize their feeble attempt to demoralize me and thereby perpetrate their unholy scam upon my unsuspecting pre-senior self?”
He was wincing even more painfully now. I suspect he was doing a quick inventory of his own cognitive abilities. “So, you aren’t going to join?”
“On the contrary” I said as I began filling out the form. “I fully intend to become a member.”
He scratched his head. “I thought you said it was a scam?”
“It is” I assured him. “But it just so happens that my mother and several other people of whom I am fond are official Senior Citizens and they can certainly use a few lobbyists annoying public officials on their behalf.”
“Good point” he said.
“With age, comes wisdom” I said cheerfully.
“Uh, yeah” he agreed. “And wrinkles, gray hair, and extra pounds.”
“For that there are diets, Clairol, and plastic surgeons” I stated happily. “Which is why I intend to cut out carbohydrates, continue to wash away my gray, and find a rich cosmetic surgeon to marry. Preferably an old one with a bad cough and no heirs.”
At that, he left, probably feeling surprisingly grateful that he hadn’t chosen a career in medicine.
I have made a decision to abandon my ten-year mandate on ignoring birthdays. From now on, I shall adhere to Jack Benny’s philosophy and turn 29 every August for the rest of my life. On the other hand, the simple fact that I actually remember Jack Benny probably places me firmly on the distant memory side of 29. I may have to rethink my position.
Who the heck is Jack Benny? Never heard of the guy.
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