In the mail and on the Internet, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is all over my ass. This started about six years ago when they learned that I had turned 50. Since then, their communication has been constant.
The AARP wants me to be a member. They want to give me insurance coverage, discounts on travel and at restaurants and more stuff, all at a very reasonable price. Despite their persistence, I keep resisting.
My thinking is they don’t have to remind me of my age or remind me of the fact I’m getting older. It’s like they’re rubbing my nose in it. At this point, I’ve accepted my age, but maybe I’m still feeling a little resentful, a little pissed off about their approach.
When I turned the big 5-0, it was a big deal. It’s like when the clock struck midnight at the beginning of my birthday, I immediately felt like I was old and in the way. I was officially middle-aged and it was all going to be downhill from there. I felt depressed. I remember drinking a lot on that day.
Moving ahead six-plus years, I probably still drink too much — hell, I did that even before I turned 50 — but I’m no longer all that down about my age. In a couple months, I’ll be 57 and I’m not giving it all that much thought. I hope that doesn’t mean dementia is setting in.
But, seriously, my mind is working differently than it did six years ago. I now think in some ways the best is yet to come for me.
For example, my mind now feels freer. I love having the ability to say exactly what I think.
Thinking back to my “businessman days” over 25 years ago, I didn’t have that freedom.
I was trying to climb the corporate ladder. Often I would have to keep my mouth shut if I saw something I didn’t approve of or like. I plead guilty to also kissing a few asses along the way to get promotions. It was part of the game.
I don’t play the game anymore. Being a freelance writer means no ladder to climb and no asses to kiss. I stay clear of publications who want to tell me how to think and how to write. My style is alternative. Maybe that’s why I’ve been associated with CityBeat for nearly 12 years. They pretty much let me speak my mind, leave me alone and let me be me.
So do my friends. Most have come to realize if they don’t want to hear my honest views and opinions on something, not to ask. If I’ve learned anything at this stage in my life it’s that life is too short to beat around the bush and mince words. I try to tell it like it is.
Some friends view my directness as me becoming a “character,” a cranky old fart that will say and do just about anything. Perhaps also contributing to this notion is my long hair and unconventional dress code. I don’t look, dress, talk or act like most people my age. Maybe that’s why the AARP is at the bottom of my list of organizations to join. I don’t want to be a normal, late-middle-aged guy.
I also think the best is yet to come as to everyday adventures, like where I live. I lived in Clifton’s Gaslight District for over five years, then downtown for a while. I’m currently living in Westwood, been there for three years. I’m kind of getting the itch to move on.
I’m thinking of Covington, maybe around Madison Avenue. A friend drove me around there a few weeks ago and we walked around for a bit. I like the feel of the area. It’s very friendly and urban with shops all over the place. The bus service is quite good, too.
My friend driving me around lives in Covington. As we rode in his car, he pointed to an apartment building on Madison — a big three- or four-story building that sets way back from the road. If he hadn’t pointed it out, I never would have noticed it.
My friend, who happens to be an AARP member, said I should move there. He said the building had a doorman and elevators to get to the various floors. He also said a lot of elderly people live there and I would be safe. I almost immediately got my back up.
Yes, my friend, I walk with a cane because of nerve damage in my feet and legs. But using a cane doesn’t make me elderly — or at least not in my mind.
If I move to Covington, I want to be in the heart of it all and experience my surroundings. I have no desire to be tucked away in a building somewhere with elevators and being all protected. To me that’s not living. That’s being old.
I think if a person keeps having new adventures in their life and if they think young, they probably will never really become elderly. That’s one good reason to perhaps pursue new living experiences in Covington.
If I do move there, I’ll probably go ahead and become a member of the AARP. I mean, there are a lot of good restaurants on Madison Avenue. While I do believe the best is yet to come for me, I might as well get senior citizens discounts when eating out.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: firstname.lastname@example.org