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By Frank Kaiser
Geezer. Wrinklie. Blue-hair. Creaky. Relic. Pops. Gramps. Haybag. Coot. Dodo. Fogey. Fossil. Codger. Duffer. Fuddy-duddy. Baldy. Frump. Biddy. Old fart. Gummer. No wonder we're called seniors. Everything else is insulting.

Fact is, we seniors have an image problem. And your falling asleep at dinner last night didn't help. Or the time at Denny's when your teeth fell out. And those yellow pants you wear? Quit it. They give all us geezers a bad name.

Personally, I think there should be rigid rules to follow. Standards to live up to. And if you don't, you get booted straight out of seniordom. No second chances. No passing Go.

    Rule #1: Don't just endure; savor life.

    Every day, every minute is a gift from God. Relish it. We all know seniors who flat-out dislike life. They mope around, sniveling about everything from the weather to the price of parsley, never seeing the wonders of the world around them. They watch the weeds, never the roses.

    They should be put out of their misery.

    Rule #2: Use your best stuff.

    Do you save your good china and crystal for special occasions that never occur? Think about it. When was the last time you used that stuff? What are you waiting for? Hey, you're not going to live forever. Use your good stuff now! If you're holding back for something special, what about celebrating the first smile you see every day.

    Bring out your finest silver in commemoration of your good health and fortune just to be alive. Is that so difficult? Wear your finest clothing once a week. Use your best linen, your finest silver. Live a little. Eliminate "someday" and "one of these days" from your vocabulary.

    Rule #3: Don't take friends for granted.

    When was the last time you spoke with your best friend? Shame on you. Friends should be sanctified as misers do their treasure. They are so valuable, yet we tend to forget, wrapped up in our everyday world.

    Here's today's assignment: Call an old friend. What does it cost? Ten cents a minute? For a buck, you can make someone's day. Yours. And tomorrow, call a former friend. If need be, apologize. Mend the fences of past squabbles, if you can even remember what it was that separated the two of you.

    Henry Adams said, "One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible." Prove him wrong. Get and keep a whole bunch.

Suddenly Trivia: What famous feuders made up last year? a) Amos and Andy? b) Bill Gates and the US Government? c) The Hatfields and McCoys?

    Rule #4: Live!

    Now, I know you're not guilty of this, but many seniors continue to drive themselves as if they're still working. Hard. They spend hours at their computer watching stocks jump around, then rush to the gym to work out on a Stairmaster while reading the Wall Street Journal. Somewhere along the way, they mistook stress for the good life. Their self-image is tied to pushing themselves, even in retirement. If you even lean in this direction, straighten up. Smell the azaleas. Enjoy life. Stop worrying about what others think. Wear a fedora. Or even yellow pants.

    Dance as if no one is watching.

    Rule #5: Just do it.

    Nike has it right. Instead of worrying what others will think, or putting it off for next year, or holding back because you're "undeserving," or being frugal with anything that would add laughter and sparkle to your life, just do it. Damn the torpedoes.

    You should know by now your only true regrets are those of omission. Stuff you didn't do. If you're going to be a geezer, be the best geezer you can by taking chances, living life to the fullest.

You'll make us all proud.

© 2000 — Frank Kaiser

Suddenly Trivia Answer: c) The Hatfields and McCoys began feuding in 1878 in Kentucky. They finally made up in 1999 only to go at it again in 2002.

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