I’m older, not elder

Posted on April 12, 2015


fashion over the years

I gave a talk this week to a senior’s society. They were very nice people. Until someone pointed out that I’m only five years away from qualifying to join.


I’m not ready to be a senior citizen; my parents are senior citizens.

Statistically speaking, it’s likely that I’ve already lived over half of my life. There was a time when, if I wanted something bad enough, I could make it happen. There were no limits to the possibilities. I had the time, energy, optimism and a whole lifetime ahead of me to work on it. Mostly, though, I was too stupid to know my limitations. Dream it and I could make it happen.

It is strange now to know there are some things that, no matter how much I want to, I will never do before I die. It’s too late to become a fireman or an astronaut. I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, and my dream of running the Boston Marathon backwards while carrying a llama on my shoulders has been extinguished by the realization that I may never actually own a llama.

But I will get a discount at Denny’s in just five short years, so there’s that.

When I do enter the realm of seniority, I intend to do so riding a unicycle. It just seems like a good way to let seniority know I don’t take it seriously. I’ll ride in backwards, spinning around once or twice. Maybe I’ll juggle bowling pins at the same time. I’ll wave to all the other seniors with their walkers and canes as I wobble around on my one-wheeled party machine.

The truth is I’ve already started the metamorphosis from middle-aged to senior. I’m now frightfully far-sighted; I’ve caught myself answering the question, “how are you?” with a long diatribe about this pain and that; the word “prostate” comes up far too often. In fact, if there is no God, the strongest proof point will be the human male design in which the prostate wraps around the urethra. If God does exist, she’s surely a female.

By the time Denny’s officially declares me a senior, my son will be turning 18. With any luck, he’ll be moving on to live a relatively autonomous life and my wife and I will be empty-nesters. We’re planning on increasing the odds of this by downsizing to a 1-bedroom home and selling our couch. I love my son dearly and cherish every moment with him but, I have to admit, a life with no kid in the house does sound inviting.

Perhaps I’ve been focusing too much on what I’m losing than what I’m gaining as I get older. It’s not like I’m already on my way out anyway. These days, people are senior citizens for 25 to 40 years or longer. I’ve still got a lot of my life left to live. And I’ve got a lot to learn about being a senior from my parents. They’re active, interested and interesting. They do cool things like travel, paint and take pictures. They meet with friends over coffee, not when they happen to have a window of time, but when they darn well feel like it. They also get to be grandparents, a status with all the benefits of being a parent yet none of the responsibility and poop. If I can pull it off half as well as they do, I think I’ll be just fine.

I’m not ready yet, but I’ve got 5 years to learn to ride that unicycle.