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WHEN TO LIE
ABOUT YOUR AGE
by Frank Kaiser
"Gee, you don't look that old. You're really well preserved." How many times have you heard that old saw?

And exactly what does it mean? Is it, "Ninety-five? You don't look a day over 94."

Or "Sixty? If it weren't for your (Choose one) wrinkles — age spots — bald spot — gray hair — loose teeth — smell — ear hairs — lack of memory — I'd never have guessed."

For many of us, getting old is bad enough. Having to admit it is intolerable.

But first, you've got to know if, indeed, you're old. Here are some clues:

    • Everything hurts. And what doesn't hurt, doesn't work.
    • Your children look middle-aged.
    • You get winded playing chess.
    • You look forward to a dull evening.
    • You're still chasing the opposite sex but can't remember why.
    • Your back goes out more then you do.
    • You regret resisting temptation in the past.
    • The little gray-haired person you help across the street is your spouse.
    • You turn out the light for economic reasons rather than romantic ones.
    • You sit in a rocking chair and can't get it going.

OK. Now that your ancienticity is established, what can you do about it?

My advice: Never, ever admit your real age. If for no other reason than the principle of the thing. What's the fun of getting old if you can't lie about it?

Even if you've been collecting Social Security for years, it's better to say that you're 50 and have them think you've led a rough and rugged life than tell the truth and immediately be stuffed into some old-fogy bias.

Because once there, you never can leave.

Suddenly Trivia: What is the top lie in the US? a) The check's in the mail, b) In God we trust, c) I'm sick and can't come to work, d) Of course I'm 21, e) S/he's just a friend, f) I'm 39.

Take my buddy J.C. Spitznagel. He's well into his pre-twilight years. (No one wants to hear he or she is actually in the twilight years.) And he looks every hour of it. Three wives can do that to a fellow.

The other day, J.C. applied for a job clerking in a hardware store. Not a bad gig for someone, like J.C., whose enthusiasm for hardware more than matches, say, Bush's ardor for tax cuts. This guy would prefer to spend an hour at Ace Hardware than a day with Sophia Loren. He understands what pennyweights are, even knows the actual size of a 2 x 4.

Discrimination Laws Lead To More Discrimination

If you were looking to hire hardware store clerk, he's the perfect choice.

But it's not that simple any more. There are laws. And the one against age discrimination has prevented more seniors from working than death itself.

Employers must be wary, lest they appear to notice that, in fact, you're old.The best way for an employer to protect herself from this particular law is to refuse to hire anyone who might possibly fit under it.

J.C. knows this. So, when he filled out the employment application, he wrote that he was 39 years old. Of course, his future boss questioned this obvious lie. To which, J.C. explained that living with his three wives was his personal equivalent to dog years. One year goes by, you look seven years older.

The boss, a married man himself, bought it.

The moral here? Lie. If you think you're in the cohort of old, always lie.

As a public service, Suddenly Senior presents, straight from the Internet, 10 more ways you can tell if you're there:

    1. You sing along with the elevator music.

    2. You take a metal detector to the beach.

    3. Your ears are hairier than your head.

    4. You got cable for The Weather Channel.

    5. People call at 9:00 p.m. and ask, "Did I wake you?"

    6. Your arms are getting too short to read the newspaper.

    7. You're asleep, but others worry that you're dead.

    8. Your best friend is dating someone half their age, and isn't breaking any laws.

    9. You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.

    10. You are proud of your lawn mower.

If any of the above hits home, welcome to The Wonderful World of Old.

Just remember, Jack Benny was paid big bucks to claim being 39. Try it. See for yourself where a little white lie will take you.

Suddenly Trivia Answer: Sorry. Too close to call.

© 2001—Frank Kaiser

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