I hate mail like this. It seems as we age, no matter how gracefully or slowly, there is a network out there that has us pegged.

Once you’re over 60, or even 50, you become, in the eyes of that media menagerie, a “senior,” or worse, “elderly.” Each day when I open my mailbox, there’s a folder or flyer or packet of information from a new “senior resort.”

Their message gets better and glossier each week. “Here’s a dream world,” they say, “where you and your mate (which sounds like two chimpanzees) can spend those golden leisure days in comfort with folks just like you. Fellow seniors who share your interests and hobbies.”

I’m reading this and thinking, where is this “dream world” where someone shares my interests? You mean there are really seniors, socialist liberals, poor enough to share my interests?

The pictures they send in the brochure always show an older, well-dressed couple, and they both have white hair. I have salt and pepper, not white. She, who has her hair colored, has never had white hair. If we move there, does she have to let it grow out? Will I have to be bleached? And they’re always dressed in golf clothes. He’s wearing yellow or pink Polo pants, a nice pale blue sweater and sporting two-toned golf shoes. A sure sign that this is a Republican resort.

First of all, I don’t play golf. I don’t play anything, certainly not shuffleboard or pinochle or bridge. Bridge is hard. You have to be really smart and sit up and pay attention to be good at bridge. I don’t play any card games. I’m very good at Trivial Pursuit. I always win at that and charades.

This one shows where the “seniors” have lunch, and then stroll past a parade of fountains. The sun is always setting in these pictures. Is that a hint? An elderly couple walking into a sunset? Sometimes they are waving. To whom? Their kids? The other seniors with whom they have just shared their interests and hobbies? Is that goodbye? That’s scary. I want a brochure where seniors are seen sitting under umbrellas on a beach, having drinks served to them by pool girls … or boys.

This one I got today is the scariest. Listen to this. “We are pleased to announce that you may qualify for the Funeral Advantage Program that will pay your family in the event of your death an insurance cash benefit up to $20,000 TAX FREE.”

It goes on to say, “Thousands of Maine residents age 50-85 have been accepted for this program.” They will also send you a booklet called “My Final Wishes.”

I’m thinking, does this booklet contain various samples of final wishes, so that if I’m not of sound mind, she can pick one out for me? Actually, she’s quite good at that sort of thing. Whenever we dine out, and I forget my reading glasses, she picks out a dinner for me. That’s how I discovered garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli au gratin.

This part kicked up some funny images for me: The business reply address is to a processing center in Phoenix, Ariz. I’m seeing this corner store on the first floor in a distant section of Phoenix, with those old wooden venetian blinds on frosted windows. Inside there is one desk with a woman in a Claudette Colbert hairdo, opening the replies with a scissors. She wears a nameplate that reads “Loretta.”

I think I’m going to reply to Loretta, so that I can get a copy of that final wishes pamphlet. I’m thinking that if they’re really lame, I could make a few bucks writing some new ones for them, a selection of really funny wishes like interesting places to dump one’s ashes, sending goodbyes notes to old girlfriends or how to spend the twenty grand.

Tomorrow, if the sun shines, I’m going to take she, who will probably resist, out in the lawn at sundown and have my neighbor take a picture of us waving goodbye. Where do you think I could get a pair of two-toned golf shoes and some pink slacks?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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