1. Speaking my mind.
I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to an old person, but they do not pull any punches. An elderly man has a thought and lets it fly straight out his talk-hole. Nothing is off-limits. Old people can call your tattoos dumb. They can tell you your baby is ugly. Passive-aggression goes out the window. Once you hit retirement age, it’s all about straight-up aggression. A non-elderly person might critique your outfit by saying something like: “Oh, I didn’t realize you’d planned to go out wearing that outfit.” Once you’re old, you can just say what you think. “I can’t believe you’re wearing that horrible shirt again. What are you, a circus clown?” I bet it feels great.
It’s too bad I’m not racist. The benefits of aging apply tenfold to racists. No more looking both ways and whispering before you say something bigoted. Just go for it. At home. On the street. Who cares? These are your golden years, and no one’s going to stop you from spending them spewing hatred for people of other cultures. Relatives will let you off they hook with excuses like, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” as if being not racist is a trick.
2. Naps ahoy!
There’s a period of your life where you’re expected to be awake all day. It’s no good. When you’re old, you have free reign to declare a siesta at any moment. Best of all, you don’t even have to call your shot in advance. Just start snoring in the middle of a graduation ceremony or a wedding. People will get the picture that you needed to recharge the ol’ batteries.
I’m excited for the time in my life when I can take an afternoon nap, wake up for dinner, zonk out until Wheel of Fortune, and then call it a night after Jeopardy. And why wouldn’t I go to sleep at eight p.m.? I’ve got to be up at four in the morning to sit in a Dunkin’ Donuts and read obituaries out loud to my friends. Why? Just to remind strangers of their own mortality.
3. Unlimited guilting people into favors.
At every family gathering for the last five years, my grandmother has sighed and said, “Who knows how many of these I have left?” You can’t deny a favor to someone who has just thrown her impending death in your face. Here’s the craziest part. My grandmother is 96 years old. She beat colon cancer seven years ago. There is no reason for her to believe her death is on the horizon. I’m starting to think that she has always been a goth, and now that she’s an old lady, it finally seems normal to talk about dying all the time.
When I’m old, I’m going to throw my advanced age around every day, for the most trivial reasons. “This could be my last Arbor Day… stop telling me about that dream you had.” Or, “This may be your last birthday I get to see, grandson. Now stop crying and give me your piece of cake.”
4. I won’t have to care about new things.
My continued descent into curmudgeonly stagnation excites me to no end. As practice, I have already started hating Skrillex and One Direction without knowing anything about them. It feels phenomenal. In the future, there will be entire genres of music that I’ll be able to write off with zero research, and I could not be happier about it.
You always relate most to celebrities your age or slightly older. To this day, my grandmother uses Paul Newman as her paragon of a handsome actor, and Paul Newman has been dead for years. Do you think she cares who Michael Fassbender is? If she needed to refer to him for some unimaginable reason, I’m sure she’d just call him, “That fellow from the penis movie.” And I’d go, “You mean Shame?” And she’d go, “Yeah. What did I say?”
5. Pajamas, whenever.
I am going to knock old man fashion out of the park. Sweatpants in public? Yep. Plaid shirts over plaid shorts? You know it. Incongruous hats? Every day, son. I could go full on Hugh Hefner and adopt his patented “Constant Bathrobe” look. I might even move to Williamsburg or Portland, dress as crazily as I can, and see how long it takes the guys who already have handlebar mustaches to copy my style.
Now get off of my lawn, whippersnappers.