The first thing that happened when I retired four years ago was the onset of a strange craving to eat dinner at 5:30 p.m. The second thing was the discovery of new sections of the paper to read: the grocery inserts listing bargains that I might buy for those early dinners. Then I went down to Long's to take advantage of a sale on tuna and mayonnaise, only to find a crowd of senior citizens in a 9 a.m. rush hour of shopping carts. The tuna and mayonnaise were already gone.
That's what old people eat, and that's when I gave up tuna and mayonnaise and switched to a healthier meals, as well as ones not consumed in front of national news drug ads showing old folks ballroom dancing. Kill me when I start ballroom dancing.
A few weeks ago I felt young and joyful again, despite the fact that I was applying for Social Security in a large office slightly less joyous than the average DMV. I felt like one of the first arrivals at Woodstock. After a surprisingly short wait (there must have been a major sale at Long's), I displayed my birth certificate and military discharge to the clerk, told her I was applying two months in advance, as instructed, and proudly said, "I'm one of the first Baby Boomers."
She was duly unimpressed, even though she couldn't have heard it many times before. I was born in early January of 1946, just 10 days after the trigger was pulled on our reviled and ruling generation. Well, 10 days and nine months after the trigger was pulled. Okay, it's bad metaphor for a generation sired by men returning from war.
They may have been the greatest generation, but we are the biggest and I was not waiting for 65 to get a more bountiful yet still pitiful Social Security check. I'm taking the smaller monthly version when I can, at 62. There are a lot of conservatives out there who want to undo the work of FDR and abolish Social Security. There are a lot of young people, liberal, conservative or apolitical, who also want to abolish it. We are a hated generation.
No one wants to pay into a system that subsidizes the marijuana, margaritas, mayonnaise and tunafish of an unruly crowd that once marched in the streets, lost a jungle war and parked crudely painted Volkswagen buses all over the landscape. Never mind how much wealth we created when we later cut our hair and invented iPods, Microsoft, Starbucks, hedge funds, the World Wide Web and Whole Foods.
We may have hated the system, but by now a lot of it is our creation. Still, I like that old-time Social Security system, and I'm taking advantage of it before a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and resentful baristas pry those tiny checks from our cold, gnarly hands. Power to the new old people.