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Friday, October 29, 2010

How to Age Prematurely

I’ve written before about how annoyed I get when people give me the senior discount without even asking me if I’m a senior. For the record, as of this writing, I am 12 years younger than being an official senior, and I have changed my tune about taking offense when people assume I have supplemental Medicare insurance and am reaping the fruits of my Social Security.

Since April, I’ve been hanging out every other weekend with my new best friend, a 98.5-year-old woman who is the only person on the planet (above ground) who knew my dad in the 1920’s. Perhaps this has made me feel young again and not take offense to the ageist opinions recently piled upon me.

But it is more likely that I just welcome any discounts offered to or insisted upon by me. My changed tune, which sounds like Big Band music, makes me want to assist younger people in achieving the same fraudulent status of which I am now taking advantage. Yes, kids, you too, can ruin your looks early by following my unique regimen of activities that will get you significant senior discounts when you are merely middle-aged.

1. Enjoy the sun. Just as I did, you should go to the beach as frequently as possible, and take tanning accelerator with you instead of sunblock, an umbrella, and a muumuu. Just as I did, spend all day there during peak ultraviolet exposure hours. Go even when it is overcast, because you will still get a nice ruby finish to your skin similar to that of a red snapper.

2. Not near the beach? If you find yourself summering in, say, Denver, take advantage of being a mile closer to the sun and bask in the sweat-free comfort of low humidity. Lie in your aunt’s back yard on a nice big towel, drenched in baby oil, Coppertone or Hawiian Tropic tanning lotion. Feel free to take naps there from eleven AM to one PM. Then eat lunch, flip over, and take another nap from 1:15 until dusk. The days will go by very quickly, and you will be the most envied person in middle school upon your return.

3. Spend some time in the Middle East. Nothing says, “quick-fried to a crackly-crunch” more than the year I spent in the Saudi Arabian desert, where highs in the summer were in the mid-to-high 130’s. Keep your car windows down and your air conditioner off. Feel the burn and enjoy the excitement of being able to get sun blisters by just walking from your car to your doorstep.

4. Pretend that moisturizer doesn’t exist.

5. Shower in hot water and use caustic deodorant soap applied with a loofa or, if you’re budget-conscious, a Brillo pad.

6. Take care of your oily skin and blackheads by rubbing isopropal into your pores with a washcloth.

7. This isn’t anything you have control over, but you can pray that both of your parents will age prematurely. My dad was gray in his 30’s, and my mother was as thin-skinned as your average Florida backyard lizard. Genetics play an important role. It’s especially advisable to have your mother’s brothers be thin haired or bald with psychiatric disorders. A history of cardiovascular or degenerative disk disease in the family wouldn’t hurt either.

8. Remember you can always vacation near the Equator. You can go anywhere around zero latitude year round and expect a heaping helping of 12 hours of sunshine. I’ve been to Seychelles, but I've never been to Kiritimati.

Follow those eight simple steps, and you, too could find yourself:
► getting an offer for early retirement
► being escorted across the street by an adorable, clean-cut Boy Scout
► receiving compliments on what nice teeth you have for someone your age
► qualifying for Meals on Wheels
► accepting a Jazzy at no cost to you

and receiving multiple other discounts for which your peers have to sit back and wait 20 years to receive.

Here’s the latest good news. Other Bill and I just returned from a vacation in San Francisco, which is a great place to be if you want to avoid the sun and foolishly maintain your youthful appearance. We are bolder these days and now brazenly ask for senior discounts. Two of the days we were there, it was raining non-stop, so we decided to take in a couple of movies. Instead of paying $10.50 for matinees, we demanded the senior discount and paid just six bucks a ticket, which was still not enough to wheedle us into paying $29.50 for a bag of popcorn.

Back at the hotel, where the lighting in the bathroom mirror was superior to our home furnishings, I rejoiced when I saw not one, not two, but six new wrinkles just outside my tragus on both ears. Looking good!

When the sun came out again, we were wandering around the city on a crowded bus. In the front third of the bus, there are stickers on the windows that read: “These seats must be vacated for the disabled and the elderly.”

Imagine my joy when a conscientious young woman in her thirties stood up and offered me her seat.

I really wanted to accept the gesture, but I guess I’m just not there yet. I’m happy to take advantage of corporations, but not quite at the point to do the same to generous individuals.

On the flip side, later in the week we were racing a couple who was probably 25 years our junior up Russian Hill, and got there easily a block and a half before they did.

I can’t wait to tell my cardiologist.

Creative Commons License by Bill Wiley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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