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The three year plan


Mon, Jun 5th, 2000
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Monday, June 5, 2000

It was at supper a few weeks ago, when my family was all gathered, that I told them.

"Now that we are all together, there is something I need to tell you," I said to them in a voice that was serious but devoid of emotion. They looked across the table at me, past the steaming rice and chicken stir fry, trying to read my face.

"I have reached a critical time in my life," I continued. "And I need my family around me to talk about this."

The humor went out of their faces and there was a feeling of expectancy in the air.

"I got the news today, in fact." I paused for effect, my head making a slow pan clockwise as I looked at each of my loved ones - my wife, my son, my daughter.

"I'm not sure how to tell you this," I said quietly, my head looking downward. "But today I've been invited to join A-A-R-P. I'm going to be a senior citizen!"

There was a loud howl!

After the laughter died down, my son said with a sense of relief, "Gosh dad, I thought you were going to tell us you had cancer or something."

I held up the letter. It read WELCOME TO AARP!. I could join for one year for $8 or get on the three year plan for $20. Man, the choices you get at 50.

"What's A-A-R-P stand for," my son asked.

"The American Association of Retired Persons, I think," I answered. "It's an organization for people over 50."

Actually, I'm four months shy of fifty. My brother-in-law in Long Island got his AARP membership offer last summer. He was incredulous that an organization could hunt him down and collar him with the news that he was about to enter his silver years.

"How can they do that!" George exclaimed. "Just send a letter to you like that. That's not right. No way am I getting that card." He threatened to talk to his congressman about data privacy.

I am more sanguine about it. I look at it as one more adventure in my life. I bicycled half way across America in my twenties; I lived in the South Pacific and in the Orient during my thirties; and I got in the newspaper business in my forties. So fifty, well, I expect new discoveries and experiences. For me it's just another birthday.

I told my kids I'm looking on the bright side. "Hey, I'll be able to get coffee at McDonalds for fifteen cents," I told them. "All the chicks will be after me now. I'm still a chunk, you know."

"Dad," my teenage daughter said with a sigh, "they're called hunks, not chunks."

I patted my stomach in mock horror.

"And I know which one you qualify for," she added jokingly.

"Not bad for almost fifty," I countered, grabbing a pinch of skin around my belt.

At and 2/3'ds my hair has a bit more grey than it used to and gravity has pushed a few of my stomach muscles south, but all in all I feel pretty good.

So good in fact, that I'm joining AARP on the three year plan.

I think it will be $20 well spent.

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