Lessons to learn before I hit 65

In mid-July, I passed a semi-important milestone. I turned 64. That’s not a particularly meaningful birthday—not as traumatic as hitting 60 and not as beneficial as making 65, when my fishing license becomes a bargain.  I’ll also get hefty discounts on all sorts of goods and services.

But I think 64 is significant. It is the precursor to 65.

I have a little less than a year to adjust, to prepare and to acclimatize to achieving the revered status as an official senior citizen. I intend to become a curmudgeon. Too late for that, my wife reminds me—I apparently achieved that goal several years back. But I have lessons to learn.

I’m already compiling a list of things I intend to rail against. Senior citizens—curmudgeons in particular—are required to rail against things. If the mail is late, call the Post Office and complain. If the paper is wet, call the paperboy and demand a dry one. If the neighbor’s dog barks, threaten to call animal control. If anything annoys, disturbs or rubs you the wrong way, rail against it. Grumble, grouch and grate your teeth—if you still have them.

I intend to complain about:

  • Rap music played at maximum volume and heavy bass while I’m driving along listening to Jimmy Buffet with my windows rolled down and the wind blowing through what hair I have left. If I wanted to listen to that stuff I’d turn it on my own radio. It hurts my ears.
  • Drive-in restaurant attendants who mumble and rarely get your order correct. A simple cheeseburger comes out with mushrooms and cole slaw hanging out of the bun.
  • Do not put cheese on my sausage and egg biscuit. Ever. I will complain.
  • And chopped lettuce. I hate chopped lettuce and intend to rail against anyone who puts it on my hamburger, chicken sandwich or BLT. I want the whole leaf.
  • Telephone solicitors who pretend they know who I am. “Hi there Ron. How are you this morning? Remember we talked earlier and you suggested I call back later?” Yeah, I remember but I think I said when hell freezes over. Click.
  • Fine print. I can barely read large print any more. Don’t confuse me with 2-point Bodoni in italics. Even with bifocals I have trouble reading the tiny print on the back of debit cards, insurance contracts and other equally useless documents.
  • Some assembly required kits with metric screws and no tools included. I speak English, not metric.
  • And instructions that indicate I should be able to complete the project in one hour with minimal tools. Well, maybe an experienced mechanic could do that but there is a reason I write for a living.
  • I will rail against people who knock on my door at dinner time—or nap time or while a baseball game is on—and tells me he’s selling a pest control package and that he recommends plan B, the one all my neighbors are buying. My neighbors typically use one of those nationally recognized pest control companies with the clever jingles and shiny trucks, not fly-by-night charlatans. Go away.
  • Girl scouts with cookies are welcome. I like the cookies with peanut butter in the middle.
  • I intend to complain about stupid people who jump back into the ocean as soon as the beach patrol gets out of sight after warning them that the undertow is dangerous and can drag you out to sea before you can say help, gulp, grrrgghhnng.

That’s a pretty good learning curve to master in just under 12 months, so I best get started. Notice, there are no plans to rail against my wife of 33 years. I didn’t live to be 64 and haven’t stayed married for more than half that time without learning a thing or two. I may become a grouch but I won’t be a stupid one.

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