Even though I retired about 4 years ago I never really considered myself a senior citizen or old. I just considered myself retired at a young age. I still referred to retirees older than myself as “old farts”, especially when they got in my way in traffic. I can still remember my mother yelling at my father for calling a fellow motorist an old fart, even though my father was probably older than the victim of the verbal abuse. I have been living here in Penang, Malaysia since I retired and somehow I think I have gotten older.
I go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, but somehow I can’t do what I did before I retired. My body has forgotten how to bound up the steps or climb over a traffic barrier. My mind can still do it, but not the body. My bladder seems a hell of a lot smaller than it used to. Sometimes I find myself forgetting my cell phone, my watch, wallet or keys, but I think I have always done that. If you ask me what I had for dinner yesterday, it might take me a while to remember. Either I am starting to forget more, or my life just isn’t that interesting.
I am finding that I don’t need as much sleep as I used to, which really doesn’t bother me, even though I have to get up to pee a number of times during the night. What is really strange though is when I dream, I am in my thirties probably, no gray hair, very physically fit and at the perfect weight. But when I wake up and look into the mirror I find that I have turned into an old fart. Strange.
Here in Malaysia the retirement age is 55 and anyone over that age is considered really old. When you read in the newspaper about someone in their late fifties or sixties, they are referred to as elderly. I remember once when a reporter interviewed me about a missing manhole cover in my neighborhood, I gave her my name and told her not to call me “an elderly foreigner”. She didn’t. One thing that annoys me here about being an older person is that they are called “auntie” and “uncle” by people even a few years younger. Excuse me, but when someone calls me uncle I can only think of a senile, perverted old man, who likes little kids to call him uncle and sit on his lap.
I can remember how when political correctness came into vogue and the names of many things changed. I guess I was still in high school or college when “retirement communities” or “senior citizen housing” or “assisted living homes” became popular. One of the older terms I was used to was “nursing homes”, which is still being used today. I was shocked when I first moved to Penang and I drove past a facility with a big sign that read ” Penang Old Folks Home”. Now that’s way beyond politically incorrect. Scary is more like it. Am I doomed to be put into an old folks home?
Well Penang may be a little behind the times in the appellation of residences for seniors, but at least there are many restaurants that offer senior citizen discounts for those over 55 or 60. I still have my own teeth and I still can eat. Luckily my middle finger still works and I can still remember my collection of 4 letter words, which comes in handy when trying to cross the road and nobody even slows down, or when getting on an elevator and I am almost trampled by young people exiting. As long as my teeth, my mouth, my middle finger and my mind still works, I guess I will have to accept the fact that some body parts are wearing down and I might be becoming an old fart.