I’m writing this on the eve of my sixty-second birthday, but if you didn’t send a card, that’s OK. Very few people send actual cards anymore, that task being suitably taken over by Facebook greetings. It’s good to be remembered no matter what the medium. A card is nice, though, and when I do get one that doesn’t come from my insurance agent or a car dealer who somehow stumbled on my Internet algorithm, I keep it. I have a shoe box in the closet which is stuffed full of greeting cards.
I do get a twenty-five dollar gift card from a local steak house every birthday because I signed up for their birthday club a few years ago. It’s a sweet deal and it costs me nothing, and since I have a few of these cards gathering dust, I may use them this year, along with the credit for a free cup of coffee that Dunkin Donuts applied to my DD Perks phone app. I can also get into any New York state park during the week (but not on holidays) for free now that I’m sixty-two, as part of their Golden Park Program because, you know, I’m now golden.
Sixty-two isn’t a very eventful birthday otherwise. I’m still three years away from being described by the newspaper as elderly, should I ever get into a newsworthy car accident or be attacked by a raccoon in the backyard. I can see it now: “Elderly local man attacked by a raccoon while filling his bird feeder.” People would read it and nod: “Poor old fart. Maybe he shouldn’t be on a ladder.” I could collect Social Security, but it would be more prudent to wait until I’m seventy or right before the entire system coughs out its last dollar to pay for a new couch in some congressman’s office. It’s a balancing act, and I’m hopeful I time it right.
My wife and I renewed our membership to Costco a few months ago, and they had to take new pictures of each of us for our membership cards. As I followed Mrs. G. through the little area they have for people to enjoy Costco pizza, a guy asked me how my picture turned out. I looked at my photo, looked at him, and replied, “I look exactly like you,” because I did. I looked at him again and he at me, and we were dressed more or less alike. We also had the same white hair, same beard, same glasses and a cheerful smile. We each resembled Santa Claus if the North Pole was located next to racks of car tires. All men, even Brad Pitt, hit an age when they become generic, part of a sui generis group of familiar old guys.
I’ve also found that more people call me sir, which is a lot better than having a guy with a man-bun who is less than half my age, call me buddy. People also hold doors open for me more often, which is a little weird since I’ve always been one of those guys who holds doors open for other people, but that’s OK. Far be it from me to be rude and not take advantage of an open door.
Overall, I can’t complain. I eat right, don’t drink much, have never smoked and have been active my entire life and I still have arthritis, so really, what can one do?
A few hours ago, I was driving home and saw a small pickup truck on its roof in front of a shopping center, it being plowed into by a massive Cadillac Escalade trying to burst into traffic. The impacted driver was standing next to his upended vehicle and talking on his phone. I’m assuming he crawled out of the window, a bit shell-shocked that his truck was now upside down and the road was littered with his deposit bottles. I have no idea where the Escalade driver was, but my guess is that he was on the phone to one of those lawyers that advertise on TV, the ones with the phone numbers that are all the same number.
Things happen that we really can’t control, so we may as well enjoy life while we can.
I made a conscious decision when I turned sixty that I wanted to be a happy, joyful old man. My mom was always happy and I’m trying to follow her example. I’m also looking forward with great anticipation to the day when I can wear a fedora and suspenders because I feel that I would look particularly dapper in a hat with my thumbs hooked under a colorful pair of braces, but it’s a few years too early to pull the trigger on that particular fashion statement. Heck, I’m even considering a bow tie and a vest for special occasions.
A few weeks ago, I pulled two mismatched wool socks off the drying rack in the laundry room shortly after I got up because my feet were cold and I couldn’t find my slippers. I figured I’d find the correct mate to one sock or the other when I got dressed, but I never bothered. I wore mismatched socks all day and the world didn’t end, and I mean they were way off. One was blue speckled with a red toe and one was blue and gray striped. I even tried on shoes in a store that way and felt fine with my decision. Do I do it every day? No, and not on purpose but if it happens, I accept that as fate and move on to more important things.
When I was younger, such a thing would have appalled me, but these days, I have bigger fish to fry. I could end up having some nitwit plow into my truck and flip me upside down. My socks won’t matter to me then, but the newspaper may make note of it. “Elderly man survives without a scratch as his truck was clobbered and flipped over, but his socks didn’t match. Social services will be looking into a possible case of elder abuse.”
If we’re lucky, we’ll all get old, but not really old because one hundred is ridiculous, and if we’re very lucky, we’ll do so in moderately good health among the company of a family we love and who love us in return, a good dog, and friends who still like us in spite of ourselves. If that happens, well that’s one in the win column.