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'Sorry, you have me mistaken
for someone who is old'

It had to happen. I was at McDonald’s and the cashier offered the senior citizen discount without my asking for it. The good news, my coffee costs 20 cents. The bad news, I look my age.

When does one officially reach middle-age? As a kid I thought someone in their 50’s was a Civil War veteran, helped across the street by boy scouts, could not eat solid foods, and toasted New Year’s Eve with Metamucil. Those days have changed for fifty-plus aged citizens, now that I’m one.

For one thing, older age works to your advantage. In addition to 20-cent java, there are movie theater discounts, to watch actors who are younger than my golf shoes. Among teenagers I can say anything I want, no matter how outlandish because the teens whisper, “bless his heart, he’s old, try not to make eye contact.”

Unfortunately about the only people who listen to middle-agers are fellow half centurions. We share our stories of surgery. For example I have incisions above my naval that when I flex my abs, forms an outline of the state of Nevada. But if you want to see it, I need a day’s notice, that’s how long it takes to flex my abs.

I also have about a dozen 50-plus year old friends. You know we are old when greetings include inquisitive remarks about body organs like “hello Joe, how’s the gall bladder?” And you know Joe is old when he gladly tells you, “my gall bladder is fine thank you, and your kidneys?” Kidney discussions take awhile as no older person has good ones. My pals can name every public restroom from here to Birmingham.

And no matter how great we feel or look there’s always the reminder that Father Time is riding shotgun. Take my friend Aubrey who recently attended his 40-year high school reunion. Held at a large hotel, he became disoriented (at 50 plus, we do that). Searching the halls for the Class of 1968 he saw people ahead. “Oh good,” said Aubrey, “I’ll ask these old folks if they know where my class reunion is -– looks like a nursing home on a field trip.” As Aubrey approached the group he realized this was not a nursing home. It was his senior class.

But enough of the down side of 50’s backside, here’s a good thing about “maturity.” We don’t worry as much as 20-year-olds do. They stay stressed about having the latest in HDTV, Plasma, Flat screen razzle-dazzle television. I remember when TV came out in color.

I overheard a teenager complaining that her I-Pod only had enough memory for 1000 songs. Poor thing, she will never know the joys of an eight-track cassette player. One could hear five tunes simultaneously as the tape unraveled in your lap.

But the greatest part of 50ish is being rated R – R for retirement that is.

What does retirement mean to me? It means:

So for all my 50 and over friends, I say press on and hopefully stay off the Grim Reaper’s day planner. We still have a few good kicks and a few good years.

We have lots to sink our teeth into -- I still have mine. Joe doesn’t. But he’s got a good gall bladder.

(Burnett has been a freelance writer in Mobile for more than 20 years. For more information, visit his website.)
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by Emmett Burnett