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March 7, 2012

Thoughts on turning 65

Yes, it's true — today's my birthday, and I'm 65, the official "senior citizen" achievement award. How did this happen so darn fast?

When I was a kid, my grandparents were old at 50. They even looked old to me. When I was 50, I didn't see it quite the same way. I was still young, in my book.

Some people have traumatic years going from 39 to 40, "over the hill." Not me, but I was really shook up when I went from 29 to 30. In my mind, I was leaving the fun years behind and had to face being a serious adult the rest of my life.

There has always been some confusion over when you are really a "senior citizen." When AARP wants your yearly membership dues, you are a senior citizen to them at 50. I know quite a few people who were shocked to receive a "birthday card" from AARP telling them "Happy 50th; come join our group."

I have never been quite sure when to ask for a senior discount at restaurants and stores. Sometimes the cashiers look at you like "What? You can't be that old," which is nice. The bad moment comes when they look at you and say, "Would you like our senior discount?" and you're only 39.

I'm what is called a "baby boomer," one of thousands of babies born when soldiers came home from World War II and started their lives over with a wife, children and a home. In my little hometown of Westville, we had our own "baby boom" within a five-mile stretch that year: From December (1946) to November, the town gained Cheryl Fleury, David Stark, Vernita Shane, Linda Stark and me.

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