My dad signed me up for membership in the American Association of Retired Persons.
He sent in the $20 check to cover the dues and my first issue of Modern Maturity, arrived in no time. It was fitting that my then 79-year-old dad should ease me into the graceful art of aging. One doesn’t entrust that duty to just anyone and dad was taking no chances.
It’s been quite a long time since I opened my first issue and as those years have turned into decades I’ve been informed on medical and financial issues, the benefits of an active lifestyle, and warned of scams that target seniors and so on.
The thought occurred to me after I read the Bruce Springsteen cover story this month that I, as my dad before me, should sign my son up for AARP. The realization, to think my oldest was eligible, was sobering.
Bold white lettering: “The Boss talks about family, creativity, love and loss in our exclusive in-depth interview.” White cursive within a blue circle, trimmed in red and accentuated by two white stars acknowledged, “An American Icon.”
Over the years and a bucketful of columns, readers have heard me bemoan an unfortunate misunderstanding. It is because of “Bobby Jean,” as I’m known to my family, that I infer his song is about me and alas, our lost opportunity.
Looking back if I hadn’t bought that first Springsteen album my radio dial might have stayed tuned to the Golden Oldies. I’d have safely slipped by any emotional instability that may have been brought on by a recent divorce and reaching what at the time was my 40th year.
Reading of women, who at this time in their lives succumb to sweet talk, spontaneous career changes or raft trips down the Colorado River rapids, should have been a warning. Looking back the signals were there but I’d foolishly tossed them aside as the, “empty nest” syndrome. My oldest was hundreds of miles away in his first year of college, but there were still two teenagers and half the neighborhood in my house. Foolish me, I should have known better.
It began innocently enough, though doesn’t it always. The kids left a rock station playing Culture Club and I listened instead of turning it off. I sensed that things weren’t quite right because within months I was dancing to Van Halen’s “Jump” video on MTV.
Who would think a 12-inch LP with the three special versions of “Dancing In the Dark” would have me blasting it from our stereo continually. Perhaps I should have been stronger, merely touched on the tip of rock music and slipped back into the comfortable 50s. My best friend warned me to be careful. I was bored, she said because after all these years I always knew the next line to an Everly Brothers song.
I ignored her and as soon as, “Born In the USA” was released I raced out to buy it. I was startled by the second track on side 2.
… He came by my house the other day and my mother said I went away? She said there was nothing he could have done, nothing nobody could say? He wished he could have called me to say, goodbye?...
He never did call.
“Time to go home,” his father tells our grandson Danny who reluctantly puts the book he brought with him to our house into his backpack. I kiddingly say, “I guess he’s the boss tonight,” and in an aside to Danny whisper, “But not, The Boss.”
“Who’s the boss?” Danny, who is seven, asks as I walk him to the car.
“You’ll see.” I blow him a kiss and wave goodbye. AARP The Magazine tucked in his backpack.