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65

“My friends are gone and my hair is grey. I ache in the places where I used to play”
Leonard Cohen

So – I’ve turned sixty-five this weekend and I am now officially old or as the politically correct call it; a senior citizen. What a degrading term that is. I’m neither senior nor a very good citizen. I am a grumpy old fart. I know this because I am reminded of it frequently by my family. I take some pride in the fact that I’m consistently quite good at it.

The good news is that once you turn sixty-five, nobody expects much else so it kind of mitigates it.

Turning sixty-five isn’t easy. Young folk tend to think you’ve lost your value as a human being unless, of course, you’re one of their grandparents and have a penchant for generous gifts. The thing I find most amusing about the attitude most young people have about the elderly is that pretty much everyone hopes to live long enough to be old.

Sixty-five is also one of those benchmark ages that the government uses to intrude into your life with various new forms and applications. This usually entails speaking to someone at Service Canada, which as it turns out is a much an oxymoron as military intelligence. I am convinced that the people who work for Service Canada were trained in the customer service department of Bell Canada.

Fortunately, I don’t qualify for most of the things the government was offering so it reduced my paperwork considerably although I did toy with the idea of filling them out wrong and sending them in just to annoy some bureaucrat somewhere.

There are other advantages to turning sixty-five.

You get a 10% discount on the cost of a ticket at the movies although you still have to take out a second mortgage just to pay for medium popcorn and a drink. You also get discounts at some stores. Most stores offer a 10% discount on specific days. One chain offers a 15% discount to seniors on Tuesday mornings between 9:14 and 9: 43 am if they show up dressed as Batman and know all of the words to Roll Me Over In The Clover.

Best of all, when you turn sixty-five it kind of legitimizes being absent-minded and forgetful. People around you just roll their eyes and whisper,“It’s ok, he’s 65, you know.” In my case, it’s even moderated how some of my family rationalizes my blog posts.

“Don’t mind Uncle Bear, he’s getting old and a little cranky but he means well. He’s 65 you know.”

A lot of people are afraid of getting old but I think it’s because they’re afraid of what’s on the other side of being old which is – being dead. I don’t worry about it. Whatever age I am is pretty much the perfect age for me and 65 is no different. I’m just a little surprised I got here so quickly. I don’t usually move that quick.

And that was one of my concerns.

I was concerned that maybe when I got old I would stop learning things but it appears I was worried for nothing. I’ve been learning lots over the past couple of years and I’d like to share some of that with you.

For example, did you know that cyclists are immortal? I didn’t. I thought they were just careless as they maneuvered through traffic but I realize now that they are invincible, or at least believe they are. How else can you explain how so many of them ride through the city streets during rush hour?

I also learned that our city has installed hundreds of new bike lanes and they are somewhat unique. They’re dotted white lines between different traffic lanes and are only wide enough for cyclists, which prevents motorized vehicles from driving in them. It’s a bit tricky for cyclists to change lanes as their cycling lanes are separated by much larger lanes full of vehicular traffic but they seem to have this bob and weave thing down pretty good.

I’ve learned that there is a direct relationship between how much a vehicle costs and how courteous the driver. The more expensive the car, the less likely the driver is to let someone merge in front of them. Audi drivers are among the worst but Lexus and Cadillac drivers aren’t far behind them. BMW drives actually attend classes on how to be annoying before they’re permitted to take delivery of their car.

There are similar correlations between the size of a vehicle and courteous driving. The bigger it is, the more aggressive. Middle aged women who are gripping the wheel with both hands as they try to peer out over a steering wheel that is about equal to their eyebrow level will not let you in, neither will young men in monster trucks jacked up to the second story on tractor wheels. Young girls are more polite, they’re just not aware of the fact that you are actually on the road.

I’ve learned some technological and scientific things too.

I learned that buildings interfere with cell phone signals and that the best place in a city to get crystal clear reception is in the middle of a crosswalk at an intersection if your light is red. Apparently that is absolutely the best time and place to text someone.

Did you know that there is a TSP Continuum? I didn’t either. The TSP Continuum stands for Time, Space, Pee and states that your wife will have to urgently pee at precisely the moment you become equidistant between service centres on the highway.

There is a corollary which states that she will have to pee between the time you left the house and before you get to Tim’s for a coffee.

Swedish cannot be translated into English. I know this after trying to read the instructions to assemble Ikea furniture. I am sure the instructions work perfectly in their original Swedish but unfortunately, they just don’t translate well-enough to put that stuff together without calling your brother-in-law for help.

A lot of people make an issue out of hitting certain ages. Twenty-one, forty, sixty and sixty-five seem to be the most common benchmarks although I’m not really sure what they benchmark because I don’t think your age defines how old you are. I think it’s because many of us are afraid of getting old but I don’t think that’s actually what we fear. I think we’re afraid of growing up.

Some people are old before their time and it’s because they’ve grown up way too fast. Others, in their seventies, seem quite young and alive to us because – well – they’ve never grown up and that’s pretty much where I am.

I’m sixty-five now and while that may mean that chronologically I’ve grown older – I have successfully managed to avoid growing up. Pray God I don’t start growing up during the next sixty-five years either.

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© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • CanadaGoose1

    For me it is the teeth. The fillings are giving way, one by one and the expenses pile on just to hang on to what I have.

    My mother had on her wall the famous prayer about getting old. I will soon be tacking it up on my wall:

    GROWING OLD: A NUN’S PRAYER

    *Attributed to a Nun, 17th Century. (There must be a version for old men, somewhere!)

    Lord, thou knowest (better that I know) that I am growing older. Keep me from the habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

    Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest I want to still have a few friends at the end.

    Keep my mind from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and the love of rehearsing them becomes sweeter as the years go by.

    I dare not ask to enjoy the repetitious tales of others, but help me to endure them with patience.

    I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.

    Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

    Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a Saint; some of them are so hard to live with. But a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.

    Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.
    Amen.

    • MaggiesBear

      My eyesight is going, my hearing isn’t what it used to be and I have arthritis and a bad back. On the bright side, I’m still as annoying as ever so it’s not all bad. :-)

      It’s a lovely prayer.

  • Micky Gluck

    I, being 63 & very active (except the arthritis attacked body parts) have the same PROBLEM…LOL!!!!