And the theme for Older Americans Month? A theme, you ask? Yes! And it’s probably set to music and we may be compelled to dance.
“Never Too Old to Play!” That’s it! Never too old to play…
I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but having our own month and carries pressure. Pressure is stressful.
Reminds me of Charlie Brown and Snoopy at the park. Representing Older Americans in my analogy, Snoopy dashes to and fro with a frantic expression on his furry face. When Lucy appears and asks what’s going on, Charlie Brown says, “I brought him to the park to frolic, and by golly, he’s going to frolic!”
First of all, I don’t subscribe to being an Older American, though this group is ever so delicately defined by our state legislature as people born before 1963, and I was. They’re quick to point out that this group includes oldsters like 53-year-old Madonna, and 58-year-old Pierce Brosnan, thus making it clear that it’s cool to be an Older American, especially if you have an airbrush.
I’m well aware of the less desirable alternative to surrendering to the pandering. It’s just that the identification and expectations strain my good humor. It feels a bit like getting a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. Next thing you know, people expect clean floors.
One of our assemblypersons, no doubt with the most benevolent intentions, not only declared the month our month, he went on to explain it for us: “This month encourages Older Americans to stay engaged, active, and involved in their own lives and in their communities.” Without this declaration and definition, we wouldn’t know what to do!
So for our benefit, he included a list of fun things in the event we Older Americans are non-plused at the prospect of identifying engaging activities and then engaging in them.
First, we’re invited to an area theater for the premiere of an award-winning documentary “Age of Champions!” wherein we’ll be inspired by the stories of athletes who “sprint, leap, and swim for gold” in the National Senior Olympics. We'll meet a 100-year-old tennis champion, 86-year-old pole-vaulter, and a group of “rough-and-tumble basketball grandmothers as they discover the resilience of the human spirit and triumph over the limitations of age.”
It’s true, I haven’t sprinted, leapt, or even swam (swum?) for gold in the longest time. But I’m not sure this film will inspire me. Frankly, the prospect of all that flapping flesh is a turn off. But gosh! I’ve always wanted to be rough and tumble. I’ve only ever been awkward and irritating. And I never could dribble - though perhaps that’s coming soon.
I’m thinking younger Americans might be a better target for this film. Sometimes they’re the ones who need inspiration.
Next comes "Grandma It's Me," a seminar offered to teach older adults how to recognize and avoid becoming the victims of fraud including the phone scam for which it is named. I guess that like our children, our grandchildren will turn on us and dupe us out of our car keys.
I know, I know. I know these things are useful. Some of us need protection and supervision. But is it “Older Americans” born before 1963, or is it the really, really old Americans. You know, the ones older than I am.
Finally, we get to use “AskMabel,” the brand new type of search engine that tailors results for “older internet users, helping them find ‘suitable’ answers to their queries.” Have we been waiting for this! All this time we’ve had to use Google just like everyone else! That’s just wrong. Our own special search engine will make us feel, well, special. I hope it speaks to us! Loudly and slowly please. Can we get big buttons too?
OK. I guess I am a mite testy. But really.
What irks me is the cheerful nature of this proposal. Its author must be some sun-shiny do-gooder born between 1964 and yesterday. Mind your own business you middle-aged American! I’m going to declare a month for you! Let’s see…June! June is Middle-Aged American Month. Now, what shall we tell middle-aged Americans to do?
I’ve got it! Let’s take them to the park and watch them frolic!