Sometimes we boomers don’t even know we’ve got a problem until someone points it out to us. Today, that someone is former San Francisco Chronicle humor columnist Nick Hoppe, whose issue is finding the right friends. It’s an age-old problem.
Now that I’m 66 years old and an established senior citizen, it’s vitally important to feel as young as possible. With that in mind, and with socializing once again being the norm, I’ve been thinking about which friends to get rid of, and which friends to keep.
Loyalty and personality can play a part in my decision, but basically it comes down to age. Do I want to hang around people who are younger, the same age, or older than me? These are the questions that keep me up at night, and I’ve decided to bring it to a head by writing down the benefits and detriments of each.
Let’s start with the younger group, which in my case would be people in their 40’s and 50’s.
PROS: Much more energy. Attractive. Better shape. Willing to stay out late. Possibly obsessed with career.
CONS: Much more energy. Attractive. Better shape. Willing to stay out late. Possibly obsessed with career.
Who wants to be compared to someone 10 or 20 years younger? They run faster, have more hair, and have the energy to stay out until the wee hours. I just feel old in comparison. In other words, they’re out. Let them go play beer pong, or some other infantile game.
Next up are friends who are essentially the same age as me, which at this point is anyone in their 60’s.
PROS: Lots of memories, since we grew up together and shared a lifetime. We’re all getting closer to the end, and we can talk about all the details of aging, nodding in agreement over our latest ailment.
CONS: Are you kidding? Nothing makes you feel more old than looking at someone who is the same age as you. If they look that old, then certainly you’re in that same ballpark. And when they start talking about their ailments, you might as well pack it in. Their ailments are your ailments, and that doesn’t feel good. So they’re out, too.
That leaves only one category that can qualify as the group to make me feel younger. Now that I’ve eliminated any friends in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, it is up to the old geezers to come to my rescue.
I first realized the benefits of hanging around older people when my wife and I accidentally walked into a room where a bunch of older people were playing bridge. One of them glanced up, and quickly exclaimed, “Oh, look, here come the youngsters.”
Since we were in our late 50’s at the time, I have to admit that felt pretty good.
I also remember well the many, many visits to my mother’s retirement home, before she passed away a few years ago. After hanging around 80- and 90-year-olds for an hour or two, I’d walk back to my car feeling like a spring chicken. It was rejuvenating.
So I’d suggest, no matter what age you are, dumping your young friends and dumping any friends approximately your age, and start hanging around with friends much, much older than you.
Imagine the benefits. Invite them to play some tennis, and pummel them into oblivion. Compare their withered, decaying bodies to your relatively chiseled frame. Listen to their stories of debilitating ailments and rejoice that you aren’t that decrepit.
It will be like a fountain of youth. No longer will you compare yourself to someone 10 or 20 years younger, making you feel like an old fart. Nor will you be looking in the mirror at someone your own age, realizing that sad specimen is the same age as you.
So goodbye young friends, and goodbye same age friends. From now on, I’ll only be hanging with people whose age is in the next decade. For now, anyone in their 70’s is welcome to be humiliated by me. When I turn 70, I’ll look for friends in their 80’s. In my 80’s, no problem— there’s always a bunch in their 90’s who will be foolish enough to hang with me.
It’s very comforting to know that there is always someone older than me who will be there for me. If there isn’t… well, let’s just say it’s time to go.
Nick Hoppe’s latest book is, “Some Books Aren’t Meant To Be Sold: A Collection of Humor Columns.”