Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?



                                                Odds and Ends of Discrimination


 Besides the obvious discrimination against blacks, gays, and the overweight, we have other black balls such as: TV, prostitution, messy houses, friendships, appearances, getting a job, charity work:  I won’t mention the government or the legal system, as they’re out of my jurisdiction.   But I will talk about the  prejudice against old age as I’m living it.   

We are discriminated against because of our wrinkled old faces, our grouchiness, our messy living quarters,  our lack of money so the young have to support us, and the fact we can’t understand technology and we watch too much TV.  But we are nice. 

About the discrimination against blacks.  My mother who came from the back hills of Sweden where everyone was fair and blue-eyed, couldn’t understand racism.  She said, “Americans are just jealous because Negro people have such pretty tanned skin.”

About sex in old age.  I have six friends, who decided, in their late fifties and sixties, and my best friend’s brother, at age eighty, that they were actually gay, so I thought a word about sex was in order.  

Heterosexuality is not in the genes, or the mother’s hormones or whatever, it is a choice.  Now before you get your nose out of joint, notice I said “hetero” not “homo.”    I’m talking about (male/ female sex) being a choice.  We aren’t born knowing the “in’s” and “out’s” of sex.  I didn’t even know that sex took place down between the legs when I married.  All I knew was what I’d read in novels, that it made the earth move and I wanted some of that.  Big disappointment, but I won’t go into that.

So face it, we learn about sex from our family, teachers and mostly peers.  I mean, be real, how many 3 year olds know where the “G” spot is?  Come to think of it, how many 33 year olds know?  Or what’s Daddy doing jumping up and down on top of Mama?

“Hey, Daddy, quit hurting Mama.”

“That’s okay son,  Mama likes for Daddy to hurt her.”

Monkeys kept in isolation from other monkeys don’t know what to do sexually and have to watch other monkeys to learn what to do sexually. So at the risk of sounding homophobic, I’d like point out we’re allowed to make choices and let me tell you I’ve made some choices in life, that have made people so angry with me they’d have gladly locked me up.

When I was young, it was sex in High School that was the big “no,no” for girls.  We were mostly virgins, yeah, and most of you, bragging guys, were too. 

And one last word on this sex subject.  Let’s have none of these put-downs of prostitutes.  They are merely self-employed social workers doing the night shift.  So show a little respect.

A lot of us are fat. They say we should have skinny friends, as we unconsciously copy the people we hang out with.  Ah, but the more I’ve been reading, being thin is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

One of the ills I discovered is that  older, thin, Asian and Caucasian women get Osteoporosis. African-American and Hispanic women do not-- and Osteoporosis is rare in males. It runs about two males to every six females.   It is thinning of the bones  and  confined to skinny, older, white women.  . Fat women don’t get it. 

Newer studies also show that the thin don’t live as long as those with a little fat on their bones.  And I’ve come across many other advantages of being overweight, but I don’t have access to them at the moment.  But they’re there. Anyhow, what I’m getting at is, who cares when we’re old if we’re over-weight. 

As for having overweight friends—do it-- as who knows, they might unconsciously copy  the thin.
And a further plus for the overweight.  I watched a Mensa party on TV.  Mensa is composed of people with IQ’s over 130.  Only 2% of the population have IQ’s over 130.   I was surprised at how many really fat Mensa people there were.  Actually, it seemed it was the majority of the Mensa partyiers. 
So all elderly overweight—a brief word.  Don’t worry about it.  Extra weight in old age may turn out to be a good thing. But if you insist it’s not, about the only thing that will lose it in old age, is to go North, dwell amongst the Eskimos, and eat fish. 

They say if you haven’t worn something in one year, throw it out. Ouch!  But how to do it?  First off, I’m financially conservative.  I’ve got an expensive pair of shoes, I’ve worn twice in four years, but being also a neatnik, continuously grit my teeth and throw them in my go-to- Goodwill box--then cogitate on how much I paid for them and how wasteful I am, and how my mother would disapprove—break down and fish them out the next day and put them back in the closet.  

So you’re not organized.  You’re old, you’re tired, and your house is a mess. Tell people you like the lived-in look, that you are a collector.  So it’s McDonald sandwich wrappers you collect—so what?

Hang onto friends, especially old friends.  You may need them someday.  I didn’t hang onto mine.  One of the biggest mistakes and regrets of my life.  Relationships are a problem at any age, as we still live in the Dark Ages when it comes to understanding people-- and the science of psychology is sitting somewhere up there along side of Galileo-- so if you’ve found someone you understand, that understands you, and you get a kick out of being with them—hang onto them and forgive them their trespasses—that is, of course, unless you’re perfect.

I know we get discriminated against, if we’re grouchy.  We’re grouchy because we’re angry, but don’t know what to do about it, or even know what we’re angry about and won’t admit to ourselves what we’re angry about, as it’s so unflattering or scary.   For me, I have a hard time talking to people for over an hour as my voice gives out, so I don’t invite anyone over.  Think I’m angry at myself for keeping myself so isolated—yet I have to.  
They say depression is losing your rose colored

glasses, especially about yourself, so everyone put those glasses back on, as even without our rose-colored glasses we mostly get reality wrong. Plus, everything we do or think has some kind of pay-off.  It’s figuring out what our pay-off is--which is the hard part. 

I mean I spend a lot of time cogitating on my failures and rejections, when I should be concentrating on how lucky I am, just to be alive, and how this world is getting better and better. I know.  I know. My age mates talk about the “good ol’ days.  What was so good about having dentists that had to guess where the nerve was when they injected the Novocain?

And it sure helps those rose colored glasses if you have a laugh a day.  You have no idea how it will perk you up.  At one time I had a lively repository of jokes, and it was as much fun making people laugh as laughing at other people’s jokes.  But time has clipped those jokes from my frontal lobes, or wherever they dwelt, and now I have to get along with the comfort that I may be jokeless, but  I don’t have Alzheimer.    At least I don’t think so. 

Just thought of a few more, well, discriminations, against the elderly, that might be interesting. Some of us like to travel, but we often mutate into those dumb old Americans.  So learn a few words in the language of the country’s you’re visiting.  At least learn how to say, “hello, goodbye, yes, no, thank you, stop, go, my address is, and ‘how much does it cost?’”

Another discrimination against us.  We, old timers are inclined to become long-winded.  We can repeat and repeat the same story, so many times our listeners can copy it back to us.  So even if a story is so good, and so appropriate, we can’t let it go—remember you’re being a bore.  So keeping in mind our long-windedness, when it’s your turn at public speaking.  Think short.   

If you have to get a job today, as your funds are evaporating and you’re going crazy sitting at home, my condolences.  As getting a job now is similar, I’m told, to going through the Spanish Inquisition. But don’t give up, if you need that extra cash. So you’re rejected.  So it’s because you’re too old. But we’ve all been rejected at one time or another in our lives. Just tell yourself, “I’ve bounced back from worse things than this and come out okay.  I do it again.”           

A few more odds and ends about old age having some saving graces.  Take charity work.  I fantasized myself helping some fellow coot getting up and walking again.  Ended up volunteering at the Food Bank.  Only place I could get on. But as kids get credits in college now for volunteer charity work, there were so many volunteers, this particular old body was not needed.

In reference to our lack of  moxie.  I’m dumb about paintings.  I can’t tell an abstract painting, from a four year old’s scribbles. Feel culturally inferior. My response to modern art.  It would make pretty wallpaper. I like Cezanne and Andrew Wyeth.  Van Gogh ( even though I admire the handicapped) leaves me cold.

Maybe because --of all the arts: poetry, music, literature, dance, acting, etc., painting is the one art that impresses me the most.  My grand daughter painted a mural of Little Red Riding Hood on my great grand daughter’s bedroom wall and I couldn’t have been  more bedazzled then if she’d been nominated president.  I’m so impressed probably because I can’t even draw a cartoon.

I watch TV a lot.  Okay, so discriminate against me.  I’m a TV dingbat. During the fifties we were indoctrinated by the intellectuals that TV was a wasteland.  That was true then. I’d try to get my kids to sit down and watch TV, just for a little peace and quiet.   But no luck.  Can you imagine that happening now.

I know   I should try to go without TV for a little while; as it will be a test to see if I’m addicted.  But I probably won’t.

TV is a pleasurable experience that allows me, along with billions of others, to blot out the world and my miseries for a couple of hours.  It works better than a pill.  I know critics call us TV watcher “couch potatoes” but at least TV makes us think about the world.  Latest studies show that TV watchers are smarter than the non-watchers. So take that, all you TV discriminators. .          


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