In today's mail, I received a personal invitation to join AARP. I find myself inexplicably tickled pink. For you young readers, AARP is the American Association of Retired People, or some such thing; interestingly, the full name is not spelled out on the literature.
(The massive clicking you hear right now? That's the sound of Fallen Princess being un-followed by every subscriber who found me through Style Rookie.)
My first reaction to the mailing was, "Sweet, I can now get the hefty AARP discount." For a mere $16 per year! I immediately called my husband at work to tell him the excellent news. He was silent for a beat. Confused about what was expected of him, no doubt. Sucks to be him.
The thing is, I am not 50 yet! I won't even be 49 1/2 until March 15. My main concern here: can I still have the discount? (The letter says it's for all people over 50, whether retired or not.) I am also wondering about the AARP status of people just a few years older than me. Do the members of Sonic Youth, for example, have AARP memberships? What about, like, Debbie Harry? Iggy Pop?
"I remember when I got my first AARP card in the mail," said my friend Mike Flaherty, age 50, when I emailed him the news. "That was a pretty momentous day...almost as depressing as when I found myself in Duane Reade buying Gold Bond Foot Cream." I can always count on Mike to make a funny.
About 10 years ago, I saw my mother cry after she was able to get a senior discount for a parking permit. I was completely shocked. My mother does not cry easily, and furthermore, as I hadn't even turned 40 yet, I was insensitive about the trauma of finding oneself a senior. My feeling was, she is that age, so what is the problem?
A few years after that, my mom and aunts were lamenting their wrinkles. I was scoffing because they have so few wrinkles between the three of them that it is actually unfair to other septuagenarians. "No one wants to look old on the outside, when you feel just the same inside as you always did," said my aunt. This is true."You know the only alternative to getting older," my dad used to say. "Dying." He died at 58, never to collect a senior discount.
I have gotten increasingly aggressive about telling people my age before they even ask. I keep my birth year on my Facebook page, though no one over 30 seems to. Taking it off won't make you any younger, people! This is not to say that I am happy about getting older.
Last night, at poker, two of the other ladies were almost exactly my age. One said, "50 is the new 30." I don't really agree, but whatever gets you through, I guess.