Our first magazine from the AARP arrived last week in the mailbox. My husband, who had just completed his second session with a therapist who was helping him cope with the reality of “senior citizenhood” after his AARP membership card unexpectedly landed in our mailbox six months before his fiftieth birthday, grimaced and said, “Good Lord, do these people ever stop?” as soon as he saw the magazine in my hand.
I partially covered my eyes with one hand as I opened the magazine with the other. “If I see any ads for support hose, laxatives, orthopedic shoes, or double-knit polyester pants with elastic waists, I’m throwing this away immediately,” I announced emphatically.
“Do you think any of the neighbors saw the magazine delivered to our mailbox?” my husband whispered as if one of our suburban neighbors had a glass up to our front door, listening intently to our every word.
I peered through two fingers at the first few pages. “Hey!” I said to my husband, “Look at this!” I pulled my hand away from my face and pointed to an article titled “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy.” “Here’s a story about some people who got to play guitar and sing with guys like Joe Walsh and Roger Daltrey!”
“Holy cow,” my husband said as he ran over to sit next to me on the couch. “Hand it over!!” He snatched the magazine away from me and turned the page and gasped. “There’s a piece on Martin Sheen in here! I loved him in Apocalypse Now.” He pushed his nose into the magazine and started reading.
“Listen here buddy,” I said firmly as I grabbed the magazine out of his hands. “I was about to read this article on how to write a memoir.”
I flipped the page and stopped suddenly. “There’s an ad for toenail fungus,” I said. “And the foot in this photo is obviously from the body of a senior citizen!”
“Don’t even look on the opposite page,” my husband replied as he looked over my shoulder. “There’s Ed McMahon advertising a walk-in tub.”
“Do you have a paper bag I can breathe into?” I asked. “Because I just saw an ad for one of those special cell phones – you know the kind with the kind of big buttons a gorilla wouldn’t have any problem pushing?”
“Okay, okay,” my husband muttered as he frantically turned page after page. “There’s got to be something else in here. OKAY! OKAY!” he continued louder. “Here’s an article on Herbie Hancock. Oh, oh, oh! (he was beginning to sound like Horshack on the television show Welcome Back Kotter) Did you know Kevin Bacon is 50 and so is Madonna?”
“Madonna is always re-inventing herself,” I added as I wondered out loud, “Do you suppose she’s a member of the AARP now too?”
“I imagine she doesn’t need those hotel discounts like we do,” my husband replied as he flipped the page again.
He slammed the magazine shut.
“What is it?” I asked.
“An ad for cholesterol lowering medicine that showed a graphic picture of a plaque-filled artery. It’s not something you need to see at your young age.”
He threw the magazine on the coffee table, put his arm around me, and pulled me close. “I bet your arteries are clean as a whistle,” he whispered in my ear.
“I know your toenails are fungus free,” I murmured.
“Getting older really isn’t that bad as long as we have each other to lean on,” I said.
He nodded in agreement, paused, and then added, “Especially when we need to get into the tub.”
I bet Martin Sheen and his wife have the same pact.