"I'm going to need a hug, Maurice--it's from the A.A.R.P."
I remember it so well. We were “out on the town,” enjoying dinner and a movie. We had just left a restaurant and were standing in line to get our tickets for the movie Taken. When our turn came, my husband stepped up and said “Two seniors for Taken.” The lovely young cashier looked at me and said “Two? Really?” Bless her heart. I smiled at her, while thinking “Senior? Me? Am I really there already?”
What we truly are often differs from how we see ourselves—just ask the author of How Did I Get to Be 70 When I’m 35 Inside. Inside I am a great singer and when I hear music, songs just well up and burst forth. Unfortunately what comes out is not as wonderful as what I hear in my own head. Not only am I a great singer, but I am lots of great things—and I am forever 30.
There are two schools of thought about becoming a senior. (By the way, when is that exactly? I’ve heard 50, 55, 60, and 65.) The School of Blatant Denial says I don’t look it, I don’t act it and I have all my original teeth. These are the folk whose grandchildren call them clever names that give nothing away. MeeMaw? However people enrolled in The School of Hurray for Senior Discounts can’t wait to get their A.A.R.P. cards and they proudly wear t-shirts proclaiming “50 and loving it!”
Whatever school you attend, everyone reaches a decade marker at some point; it could be 20, 30, 40 and beyond. Editor Ronnie Sellers has written a book for those who reach the 50s marker and are not sure what to do now that they’re there. The title is 50 Things to Do When You Turn 50. Judith Viorst wants to know How Did I Get to be Forty…And Other Atrocities. Perhaps it’s turning 30 that has you depressed. (20 is no problem because I have yet to find one 19-year-old who doesn’t want to turn 21.) For you, there is Ready or Not, Here Life Comes or Time Happens.
Did you meet your most recent decade by dancing ’til dawn with friends or cowering under the covers, moaning? (The ladies don’t have to tell which birthday if, like Mae West, they believe “A woman who will tell her age will tell anything.”) Perhaps, like 101-year-old Virgil Coffman, you decided you only go around once and bought the one thing of which you’ve always dreamed. Mr. Coffman purchased a bright, “screaming yellow” Transformers’ special edition 426 hp Camaro. He said, “Once in a while I like to kick it up.”
I know the feeling. Just about the time I turned 40, my son moved to NY and I appropriated his 5.0 Mustang GT. It was maroon, shiny and very fast, with a spoiler, oversized tires, a black stripe and a varoooom that told everyone I was coming. Bonus—it was a standard! As I raced teenagers and Andretti wannabes up and down 285, it didn’t matter that I had reached middle age or that my knee ached a bit when I had to work the clutch. Life was good and 40 was just a number.
May is Older Americans Month and the library has a wealth of entertaining and informational activities going on. If the story of Mr. Coffman has struck a cord in you, you also may want to visit a car dealership to see what catches your fancy. Whatever decade you’ve reached, however, it’s worth a celebration.