Berger’s Burg: Seniors are fighting uphill battles as they grow older

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Two-thirds of all seniors, people 65 and older, who have lived in the history of this planet are alive today.

Recently, while on a line waiting to see a movie, a young lady handed me a flier. It read: “This invitation will admit you and one guest to attend a free screening of [the title of the movie]. There will be no admission charge. You and the guest must be 17 to 54 years of age and not be associated with the entertainment industry or the media.”

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, “What the hell happened?”

Well, there it was in black and white: All people over 54 need not apply — another case of we graybeards being given the finger. There were many outraged seniors on line who did not take this affront lightly and immediately tore up the invite.

The old man asked his supervisor for Monday off to celebrate his golden anniversary at the company. The boss growled, “My God, will I have to put up with this chutzpah every 50 years?”

I discovered age discrimination is quite common in many similar offers. They target a specific segment of the population in the hopes that their word of mouth will attract similar-aged people to their particular product. Humph! Why do they think a 17-year-old is more likely to enjoy that movie than Andy Rooney, Helen Thomas or me? Very unlikely, since I am a fervent and avid moviegoer.

Maybe it is true life begins at 40, but everything else starts to wear out, fall out or spread out.

And that is not all. I just read an AARP publication and was crushed to read about the aging of a few of my favorite celebrities. To wit: Bruce Springsteen turned 60 (groan), Olivia Newton-John tip-toed past 62 (gulp) and joining the five-oh club were Jason Alexander, Marie Osmond and Emeril Lagasse (gasp).

There are three stages of old age. The first is loss of memory. The other two I forgot.

But the coup de grace was also a picture of a lovely white-haired woman, not unlike a doting grandma any child would be happy to have. Guess who? None other than Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. She just passed 70. Yes, 70.

How quickly the years passed by — one day it is October 1970, then you turn around and it is October 2009. Time slid by me when I blinked this morning. And the wrinkling of Neil Sedaka, Frankie Laine, Tony Orlando and many other favorites must have occurred when I was busy shaving this morning. Gloria, find me a copy of Mad magazine. I need a good laugh.

Middle age is when it takes longer to rest than to get tired.

Turning the pages of the publication was like taking a walk through a chamber of horrors. Articles on prostate, menopause, arthritis, bursitis and cataract are AARP’s dastardly way of reminding middle-agers of blessings to come for all the still-young-at-heart whipper-snappers like me.

Middle age is when you have stopped growing at both ends and begin to grow in the middle.

I guess you have guessed by now that I am a person whose body was, without proper notification, metamorphosed from youngling to antiquity. I realized I had embarked into this strange period of my life when I engaged a young lady in small talk in a crowded elevator.

“I don’t talk to strange men in elevators, grandpa!” she jeered. It was at that moment the world and I knew I was not 20 anymore.

You can stay young forever if you live modestly, get lots of sleep, work hard and lie about your age.

Since then, the spirit of “middle age” took over my body. Whenever I know I can do as much as I ever did, I would rather not. I look forward to dull evenings, I give good advice to everyone since I no longer can set bad examples and I eat green bananas because I hate to see them age also.

The good thing about getting older is that you go through it only once.

Today, this middle-age feeling has completely enveloped me. I no longer challenge any stripling to a game of one-on-one basketball. My back, neck, feet and spontaneity are not what they used to be. I now drink a glass of warm milk and take a nap before escorting Gloria to an early bird dinner.

People continually tell me, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” The only thing I seem to be getting better at is getting older. Others say middle age is a crock of [fill in the blank].

But, old fogies, take heart. Someone — I forgot whom — once said, “It’s not how old you are, but how you are old.”

Contact Alex Berger at

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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