Opinion

COLUMN: Denials and smiles for 55-plus

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Forget about the Golden Years. That’s old hat. (Pun intended, forgive me.)

Now the age-bracket buzzword is

“55-plus.”

I’m not sure how that specific point in life suddenly became socially important and prominent, although I strongly suspect it germinated in the brain of a marketing genius somewhere in North America, and then spread like new marketing ideas are wont to do.

There are condo developments for 55-plus buyers, 55-plus hotel packages, and 55-plus activity groups.

Recently, I went past a community light board the other day and saw an ad for “over-55 tours…”

I thought… what is an over-55 tour? Do you board a special bus which tours past captive herds of people who are over 55 and you ogle them like the water buffaloes at the zoo?

Oh look, there’s one filling out tax forms! Why is it crying?

OK, probably you have to be over 55 to go on such a tour. But why? What happens that someone who is, for instance, 52, not allowed to see or know?

Personal consultation on the inappropriateness of wearing spandex bicycle shorts over the magic age of 55? Who wants to hear that?

Maybe it’s special summarized screenings of all the TV shows that are on after 10 p.m., which is now your beddy-bye time.

Is 55 the point where you can no longer communicate effectively with anyone younger? Like, did you see that new WhoTube video on the IntraWeb?

Pffft... I can speak digitalese.

I’m not sure I’d want to surround myself with just people who are over 55.

I mean, isn’t that kind of age-elitist in our all-inclusive society?

Hi, I’m 56. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

I know you know what I know. Know what I mean?

Raise one eyebrow, give knowing look.

Really, if I had to choose, I’d rather be around people who are under 20. I still know more than they do. Or at least, I can think I do.

Maybe people who are 55-plus get together to commiserate over the fact that at one time in our lives, about 10 or 15 years ago, we were thinking about Freedom 55 – when we would retire and travel and frolic in the sun, before our hips and knees needed replacing.

Where have all the Freedom 55 people gone?

I’ll tell you where they are. They’re on stress leave!

Retirement at 55? It’s become a cruel joke. First the tech stock bubble burst in the early 2000s. For those of us who were smugly still standing after that retirement fund disaster, along came circa 2008.

Blue chip stocks? Hah! Gotcha anyway, smart guy!

For a good portion of the 55-plus crowd,  holding onto the concept of Retirement 65 is like believing one’s six-pack is coming back.

Maybe that’s another reason us 55-plussers are supposed to hang around together – or at least the guys. We can wear our polo shirts outside our pants, and no one questions it or makes snarky comments about muffin tops.

Personally, I find all this concentration on being 55-plus rather disconcerting, if not downright anxiety-inducing.

I’d rather not dwell on it or be regularly reminded by selective association.

In fact, I’ve not really thought much about being beyond the age of 55 since that actually happened, which was a perfectly good point to go into denial.

If you start thinking too much about 55, then suddenly one day you’ll wake up and find that you are. And you’ll start paying attention to all the marketing promotions, and then you’ll actually start acting like you’re 55 ... or plus.

My advice? Don’t act your age.

Go find your spandex bicycle shorts.

Andrew Holota is the editor of The Abbotsford News.

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