Baby boomer Jerry Zezima, the humor columnist for his hometown paper in Connecticut, the Stamford Advocate, has a unique take on the early sixties. Not the decade, the age. He wrote it for BoomerCafé and calls it “One for the Aged.”
Now that I have reached 62, the age at which geezers like yours truly are eligible to take Social Security payments, I have made an important discovery.
It’s not where I put my glasses, because I don’t wear them, though I do use glasses to drink red wine, which I consider the most effective over-the-counter heart medicine that money can buy.
No, my discovery is that I am now being carded again. But not when I buy wine, which is not surprising since I am almost three times as old as the minimum drinking age of 21. If you invert those numbers, by the way, you will get my maturity level.
I am being carded for practically everything else because— according to the U.S. government, whose taxes often tax my heart, which is where the red wine comes in handy— I am a senior citizen.
A dozen years ago, I became eligible to join AARP, which stands for the American Association of Retired Persons, even though I can only now start getting retirement benefits (although I can’t get full payments until I am 66).
At the rate I am being taxed, unfortunately, I will be working posthumously.
Still, I have been eligible for senior-citizen discounts since I was 55 (inverting those numbers does no good) and have often been given the benefit of lower prices without being carded, which makes me wonder if I look like a geezer to younger people, which these days is just about everyone I meet.
Last year, for example, I went to the aquarium with my daughter, my son-in-law, and my granddaughter. After handing the young (of course) person at the register my debit card to cover the $22 charge, my daughter said, “You should have asked for a senior-citizen discount.”
The young (of course) person at the register looked up at me and said, “I already gave it to you.”
“Is it that obvious?” I asked.
She smiled and handed me a receipt for $20.
I guess it was a fair trade-off.
What I don’t understand, in addition to everything else, is how the U.S. government calculates who is eligible for what, what age they have to be to get whatever it is they are eligible for, and— this is the most important part— if the people making these decisions were drunk when they did so.
Take half-years. They are very important to toddlers, who don’t say they are 3, the age my granddaughter will turn next month. Instead, they insist they are “thwee and a half.”
This stops at approximately age 5 and doesn’t become important again until that period of time halfway between ages 59 and 60, at which point, according to a bunch of government employees who obviously had been out on a three-day bender, you have to be 59-½ to take penalty-free withdrawals from any of your retirement accounts, even though you can’t retire until you are 62, or 66, or somewhere in-between. I am reasonably certain that you cannot be dead, in which case you have to pay another tax.
Another important half-year is 70-½, when you’re required to begin taking money from your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, with the exception of a Roth IRA or your 401(k), if you’re still working.
Since my name isn’t Roth, there isn’t enough money in my 401(k) for me to live on for more than the equivalent of one baseball season. Anyway, there is no account on earth in which taxes are an advantage, and I am still working, though not to the satisfaction of my employer, so I guess this won’t do me much good.
I could jump off a bridge, but first, of course, I’d have to pay a toll.
In fact, this whole thing is taking a toll on me. The only solution is to use the not-entirely-feeble excuse that I am old and ought to be forgiven for not understanding what the hell all these rules and regulations mean.
In the meantime, I think I’ll have a glass of wine.
Stamford Advocate humor columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of three books. His latest is “Grandfather Knows Best.”
Copyright 2016 by Jerry Zezima