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Jewish World Review Sept. 1, 2004 /15 Elul, 5764

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

Not old, just 'grownup,' says AARP | If you are holding this paper as far from your eyes as your arms can reach - particularly if that's because you can't remember where you put your reading glasses, and especially if that's because you dropped them next to the La-Z-Boy when you took a little nap because you were so tired from arguing with the HMO about whether or not it will pay for your Lipitor and not just some cheap generic - yes, if that's how you have spent your exhausting, annoying, out-of-focus morning, chances are pretty good that you are no longer a spring chicken. Maybe not even a summer chicken.

So what are you? You'll be happy to know that, according to American Association of Retired Persons, you are NOT a "senior citizen." Even if you were born between 1945 and 1962, you're not a "boomer." These terms have been banished from AARP magazines because they sound, well, old.

"Maybe they should use the term, `sprung' chicken!" chuckled a colleague when I told him AARP's policy.

Sure, Joe. Go ahead and laugh. But AARP membership starts at age 50. Which means that in just a few years you, too, will be a ... well ... whatever AARP starts calling its codgers. Er, coots. Er, curmudgeons. Er - "One word we use a little tongue in cheek is `grownup,'" says Steve Slon, editor of the youngest of three versions of AARP's magazine (which, for the record, has dropped the name Modern Maturity. Guess why.)

The real reason he is loath to use the word "boomer," he says, is that people of that particular generation are so varied.

"The average age of becoming a grandparent is 47," Slon says. "But in New York City you've got people who are 47 with toddlers." Not only that, he adds, but many boomers, sober at last, are embarrassed by any reminder of their wild youth.

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In other words: Many of the Woodstock generation are envious of their peers who steered clear of Woodstock. And, of course, vice versa. So pretty much no one wants to be identified with their `60s roots.

Meantime, as much as the Greatest Generation might like that moniker, it IS a little awkward to ask, "Excuse me - do you offer a Greatest Generation discount?"

So the mags dance around, often resorting to the term "older people" without ever saying older than what. In England, old people are routinely referred to as "wrinklies."

Oh, for such directness! To help AARP along, the Daily News hereby presents some possible names for the generations that preceded X. How's about:

The Keyhunters, The Viagravations, Cataract-Up! (for militant old folks), Old Volks (for the Beetle generation), The Gratefully Un-Dead, The Colonoscopics, The Amazing Plastic Hipsters, Cane-Raisers, Generation Specs.

Or: WAWYBS(IYL!) - We Are What You'll Be Soon (If You're Lucky!)

As a would-be WAWYBS(IYL) myself, I vote for that last one. Or wrinklie. Either way - it's great to be old, considering the alternative.

No - not death! Generation X, with all the tattoos and tongue rings and no jobs.


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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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