The big 5-0
It was probably inevitable, but I found the experience painful and distressing nonetheless.
"Oh, no!" I exclaimed upon opening the letter. "I've been AARPed!"
"Most people," replied my wife, "Have the courtesy to say 'excuse me' when they burp."
"You don't understand! I just got a letter from AARP, the American Association of Retired People! This is awful!"
"Oh? Why is that?"
"It means that I am no longer young and cool and hip!"
"When were you ever cool and hip?"
She had me there. Never in my life have I been accused of being "cool", and the closest I ever came to being "hip" was shingling a hip-roofed barn. Thinking back, it's clear that the deck was stacked against me from the get-go.
It's October 1957, the day before Halloween. Ike is in the White House, a novel comic strip called "Peanuts" is all the rage and the newly-launched Sputnik satellite streaks across the night sky.
On that fateful day, at my parents' insistence, I am forced to undergo a barbaric and painful medical procedure -- without a scintilla of anesthesia!
Yes, being born isn't much of a way to spend one's birthday, but it pales in comparison to another medical procedure performed on me shortly thereafter. These experiences were so horrific, they rendered me unable to walk for a full year. My brain, thank goodness, has blocked nearly all conscious memories of that brutal October.
But Fate had many more cruel tricks up her sleeve. As soon as I got my bearings, I apprised my situation and was dismayed to discover that I had siblings! The effrontery! How could my parents dote on me at the level I deserved -- after all, I was the Undisputed Center Of The Universe -- with so many of their resources being absorbed by all those demanding and annoying little kids?
Learning that I had brothers and sisters proved to be just the tip of the iceberg. Innumerable deprivations were to be the hallmark of my early years.
For instance, I was forced to grow up without the benefit of even a single video game! And with no Internet access! Can you imagine? These days, such treatment would bring a visit from the folks at Child Protection Services.
Not only that, after I came home from being born I was horrified to discover that my parents didn't own a TV! Not a single one! And when they did finally did purchase this critically essential item, it was capable of displaying only black and white pictures! No wonder my childhood memories are all sepia-toned!
Somehow, despite these and countless other privations during the past five decades, I managed to survive. And now comes this letter from AARP! Will the torment never end?
The "R" in AARP stands for "retired". Who the heck can afford to retire at age 50? No one I know, except for maybe Bill Gates. I don't actually know Gates; I'm merely on a first name basis with some of his software, which I often shout at using some very colorful nicknames.
Hitting half a hundred causes one to look back on one's life and accomplishments. Said accomplishments seem few and puny, especially when compared to those of others.