Editor’s Note: This is what happens in the aftermath of turning 60.
Americans love milestones. In 2011, we commemorated the Civil War’s 150th anniversary and the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, and we all prize our own personal milestones. No wonder Hallmark makes a fortune from wedding anniversaries, birthdays, deaths, illnesses, first dates, divorces and other assorted life events.
We also love commercialism. In January, many retailers celebrated Martin Luther King’s birth with MLK Day sales. And, in Miami, a strip club’s ads used a doctored photo of the assassinated civil rights leader holding a fistful of dollars, as pole dancers cavorted in the background. Many people saw this as disrespectfully bad taste … do ya think?!
Memorial Day was once a somber, sober time to honor those who’d given their lives to defend our country, but it’s now the beer-and-hotdog weekend that kicks off the summer. Department stores celebrate it with consumer electronics sales, and no one will be surprised when a future summer ends with department stores advertising their 9/11 Flat-Screen Blowout Sales.
This year, I had an anniversary of my own, when I turned 60. (Milestones seem much more significant when they end in a zero.) Not that I remember that day back in 1952, but mom, who was five foot one and 105 pounds and delivered a 10.5-lb. baby, has reminded me for more than half a century how she suffered through two excruciating weeks of labor to get me through that milestone.
My small pension kicks in between 55 and 65. Payments increase the longer I put off taking it, so, for five years, I’d been asking my doctor how long I should wait before starting to collect. It’s not an idle question, because I never really knew my grandparents, and no male in my lineage ever lived long enough to collect social security.
Dr. Shapiro suggested that, with my genes and advanced age (and weight), I should probably split the difference and start collecting now. Based on the way he stressed the word “now,” I’ve started taking my checks, because I don’t want to go to The Big Dirt Nap empty-handed. Besides, every born-again Christian I know tells me the biblical milestones show The End Times are upon us.
More ominously, the Mayan calendar will run out on December 21, 2012. Since this could be the year I finally buy an iPhone, I’ll be optimistically saving up my pension checks for the Apple Store’s “We Survived the Mayan Apocalypse Sale.” (On that day, I’ll be wearing my favorite sweatshirt — “I Survived the Rapture and All I Got Was This Stupid Shirt” — to commemorate the last Armageddon I lived through.)
I’d originally planned to be retired by the end of the Mayan Great Cycle. However, some shrewd investments I made in real estate and the stock market during the latter days of the Bush Era will now enable me to retire at 80, should I live that long. (I believe it was either Adam Smith or John Kenneth Galbraith who advised buying at the peak of the market, then holding your investments until they’re nearly worthless.)
In retirement, I’d hoped to be living on a ranch in northwest Fairfield County, tending a herd of Shih Tzus. First domesticated as foot warmers for Chinese royalty, this small lapdog has since been bred mainly for its cuteness.
Instead of fur, the Shih Tzu has rich downy hair that grows continuously. Two reasons people buy them are because they don’t shed and their coats have no pet dander. Hence, their luxuriant hair could be sheared to stuff the ridiculously expensive hypoallergenic pillows I’d planned to sell in boutiques in Greenwich and Darien.
Rather than whining about how the 1% is bleeding the other 99% of us dry, I was hoping to profit from them. They already own their own political party and much of the media, and control most everything worth controlling. If you can’t beat ’em — and you can’t — then you should find something extravagant to sell them.
On Greenwich Avenue, where the 1% are more like 10%, shoppers are willing to spend the price of midsize car on a Duxiana mattress, and I’m convinced they’d be only too happy to pay handsomely for a silk pillow filled with genuine Shih Tzu down. Why rest your head on duck feathers or goose down, when you can nestle it into high-thread-count bedding filled with the hair of an animal that sells for $1,500 a pup?
I can picture the majestic, thundering herd — a hundred head of little lapdogs, surging across my suburban ranch, driven by a pair of border collies (smarter dogs, but inferior coats). And I can picture the Giant OBL White Sale I’ll be having each year on the anniversary of Osama’s demise.
But I digress. Anniversaries, pensions, Mayans, Shih Tzu pillows … where was I going with this? I think I’ve lost track. Cut me some slack … Did I mention I’m 60? Repeating myself … that’s the problem with having too many milestones.
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