By david Leibowitz
Three years ago, right about the time I turned 50, the membership packet arrived in the mail. I took great joy in chucking it in the recycling bin, the same as I do junk mail, phone books and those lie-filled mailers the politicians send.
At Chez Leibowitz, we are steadfast believers that ignorance is bliss. Thus, I intend to ignore all evidence that I’m aging, at least until rigor mortis sets in – if not longer.
Which is why accidentally clicking on an AARP ad last week was so deeply horrifying to me.
Follow me here: If I clicked on such an ad, that means I was served such an ad. If I was served it, that means some algorithm did a calculation that went like so: “Hey, this putz is old. Show him ads for old people. Like maybe an AARP membership.”
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I’m afraid of dying. It’s all the stuff that leads up to dying that I’m afraid of. Like thinking, “Man, this white belt would look terrific with calf-length white socks and a pair of yellow golf shorts.”
Or seeing a story in the AARP magazine (there is such a thing) headlined “How Ted Danson Found His Balance” (there was such a story) and saying to myself, “Self, I bet that bajillionaire who played Sam the Bartender on Cheers is chock full of wisdom about graceful aging. Dagnabit, that’s a must-read.”
For the record, I abandoned getting life advice from Ted Danson at precisely the moment the cliche “attitude of gratitude” appeared. And I was deeply grateful not to read another word.
If I sound anti-AARP, that’s untrue – especially after I found out only two decades after the fact the organization has changed its name. Originally, they were the American Association of Retired Persons. In 1998, they changed it to AARP – which rhymes with “carp,” a useful verb in a column like this, since it means to habitually complain.
Frankly, carping about getting old is the only thing I like about getting old. My father, now 72, has gone the other way with aging: He likes growing older, if only for the cost savings.
You ever meet those people who use an extra gallon of gas at almost four bucks a pop because deep in their wallet they have lodged a frayed and faded Burger King coupon saving them two bucks on a double cheeseburger meal? That’s my old man. Every time he seems depressed about getting on in years, I remind him the Wednesday newspaper will show up next week with all sorts of terrific coupons.
Me: “If I was you, dad, I’d try to live to be 100. Think of all the money you’ll save.”
My Dad: “You know, I stopped at this Jimmy John’s sandwich place the other day. They make a gigantic roast beef and ham sub, 16 inches, for just $13.99. It was so big, I had to cut the thing in thirds. You cut it in three like that and the unit price ends up being just $4.67 per sandwich.”
Why in the name of all that’s good would I fear aging? Gosh, guys like my father and Ted Danson make it look so darn appealing.
Personally, I’m going to stick with ignorance.
All AARP membership offers will go immediately into the blue bin. Digital ads will go unclicked. You won’t catch me piloting a golf cart through Sun City any time soon. And the only time I’ll ever wear a white belt? To bind my hands when the medics transport me kicking and screaming to senior living.