Upon reaching the age of fifty I received an unsolicited benefit . . . I became eligible for membership in the American Association of Retired Persons. That is a rude wake-up call! I wasn’t quite ready to throw myself into the realms of this particular demographic group, but after reading about the advocacy arm of the organization for those in the “golden years” I broke down and paid my membership dues. So far the greatest benefit is getting cheaper hotel/motel rates, a snazzy membership card, and a monthly subscription to their publications. For the most part it has been pretty painless being a member of the AARP . . .
. . . that was until this past week when we received the organization’s monthly magazine with Denzel Washington on the cover and a headline screaming “Sexy Secrets: Men on Fire—From Denzel Washington to Viggio to Jon Bon Jovi—We Reveal the 21 Hottest Guys on the Planet”. Of course when they say the “21 hottest guys” they are referring to the 21 hottest guys over the age of fifty. The first heartbreak was in realizing—once again—that I was not included on the list. I don’t get it . . . what don’t I have? I am a guy . . . I am over the age of fifty . . . and I am still alive. It was pretty disheartening to not find myself included, but I got over it.
Besides Denzel Washington, Jon Bon Jovi, the list included: Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth, James Brolin, Mario Van Peebles, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., George Strait, John Irving, Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas, Yo-Yo Ma, and several others. As a subscriber to AARP-The Magazine I was offended . . . offended that these were the men that were chosen to represent the “hottest guys on the planet” for those males in that particular demographic . . . namely those of us who are considered to be old foggies by anyone under the age of thirty! Who are the editors trying to pull a fast one on . . . this was strictly beefcake for the women! I was offended despite the fact that the wife was quite pleased. She just kept flipping through the pages with a wicked grin on her face.
Now, one might asked why I was offended. Well . . . look at the guys they chose. These are not “normal” men for this particular demographic. They are in shape . . . I am in a shape but I don’t think looking like a bowling pin counts in this poll. They are handsome. They have hair . . . I am still looking for mine as are most males my age. They are wealthy . . . wealthy beyond anything most of us in this demographic can ever imagine. They are smart . . . I have been called smart but it is usually an adjective for the seat upon which I sit. These guys are not “normal” representatives of this demographic by any stretch of the mind. For that alone I was offended.
The fifty and over guys I know look more like the guy above than George Clooney or Denzel Washington. There is less hair, a little more pudge, and thinner wallets. Who is the AARP trying to fool . . . we men in this demographic look more like Fred Flintstone than Hercules! None of the 21 guys that they pictured in the magazine even came close to what the composite of men in this demographic look like. All the AARP is doing is perpetuating society’s warped view of what is valued! These guys are the exception to the rule and not the rule!
I think it is tough enough in life to age without having the organization that advocates for your age group to perpetuate the societal myth of what “sizzling and hot” means after the age of fifty. It is difficult enough living one’s age . . . especially after the age of fifty . . . than trying to be something that one can never be. I think that I will get over the fact that, as usual I was left off another list of the most beautiful people. I think I can get over the fact that I am not “perfect” in the eyes of society and probably never will be. These guys—these sizzling over age fifty guys—are the minority and I belong to the majority. I may not have a full head of hair or a lot of money in the bank. I may not have six pack abs or buns of steel, but I do have a six pack and buns I appreciate as I sit on them drinking the six pack. But one thing that I do know is that I am exactly as God created me and God loves me for it. In the eyes of God I am sizzling . . .
. . . I think my granddaughter would agree.