o frabjous day

August 2nd, 2010 | Uncategorized

I have five more weeks left to be 49, deo volente, but the mailman just delivered my little reminder card from the grim reaper.

61 Responses to “o frabjous day”

  1. Ellen Orleans says:

    The irony in AARP is the “R.” It will likely be many, many years after 50 that I’ll be able to retire.

  2. LEM says:

    I paid the dues for a few years. Then I read the completely false story in AARP magazine of Jim Douglas SUPPORTING Catamount Health in VT and never having used the card for any benefits, cancelled my membership. Maybe your experience will be better. And may your 50’s be full of joy, health and love!

  3. shadocat says:

    Don’t you just love it? “Happy Birthday! BTW, you’re OLD.”

  4. hairball_of_hope says:


    Look carefully at the AARP materials. They triggered my unctuosity/bogosity/ripoff detectors.

    They only show a 2-year option for membership when they first try to hook you. Nowhere on the materials is a toll-free number you can call for info, or to find out the 1-year price.

    You will get bombarded with multiple offers for membership in the next six months if you don’t respond to this one. Each offer will have a 2 or 3-year option, never a 1-year option until the very end of their bombardment period. The format of the teaser cards will vary; when they are really trying to hook you, they will eventually send a plastic embossed teaser card instead of the tear-off printed one you just received.

    And then they leave you alone for another birthday.

    Expect another AARP pitch around the time you turn 51.

    I had fully expected that I would join AARP when I got to 50, but then I did some research on the discounts and the insurance scam they run, and decided I didn’t need to give them my money.

    Feminista and I had some dialogue about it last year here:


  5. hairball_of_hope says:

    AARP… Unlike the RCMP, they always get their (wo)man.

    Everyone tries to hide from the reality of 50, despite the baby boomer cliché that “50 is the new 30.” I grew up when we were told not to trust anyone over 30. So I still can’t trust myself.

    I’ve yet to find anyone who successfully hid from AARP’s omniscient database. The postoffice person brings that red-and-white letter, and you get that sinking feeling, you know you’ve been found out. I joke that the US Govt wasn’t really interested in finding Osama bin Laden. If they really wanted to find him, they would have hired AARP instead of the CIA.

    As for the magic of 50, just wait until your eyes catch up with the calendar (if they haven’t already gotten there).

  6. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    OH come on, your fifties are great! It’s not until your sixties that you start to fall apart. I’ve never used my AARP card for anything, and anything that arrives in the mail with an AARP return address gets dumped in the recycle bin immediately. I’m impressed that some of you have taken them so seriously that you did research on them. It’s scam central as far as I’m concerned. Still. congratulations on being old enough to be the target of scams, Alison.

  7. Ruth in RI says:

    “Little reminder card from the grim reaper?” Oh, please.

  8. Kate L says:

    By coincidink, I came across my 2-year-trial card while I was cleaning up the house last night. I’m 55, so they keep sending them out until you crack! 🙂

    Oh, and you may all be seeing Smallville’s Human Rights Board on the network news later this summer. That’s when they take up our request to add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the existing list of protected folk (which currently includes military service as well as the usual categories). The last time they considered sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, back in 2005, the Board deadlocked after the anti forces monopolised the hearings for two hours, complaining about the “threat of disease” and urging us on the other side to undergo “reparative therapy”. There were no cameras in 2005, but one anti city commissioner has requested that the next Human Rights Board meeting be televised, and he is busy alerting his reactionary allies to gather their pitchforks and torches. Stay tuned!

  9. Renee S. says:

    The Junk Mail will never cease now, AB.
    I shred mine and use it for packing material.
    Works great. Cheaper than bubble wrap.

  10. Robbie says:

    Mine arrived a couple of days ago (same expiration date as yours). Happy 50th to us! My partner bought me a new used motorcycle – a way better present than an AARP membership ;-}

  11. judybusy says:

    @ HoH #5: “The US Govt wasn’t really interested in finding Osama bin Laden. If they really wanted to find him, they would have hired AARP instead of the CIA.” Thanks for cracking me up!

  12. Andrew B says:

    But Alison, what will you retire from? Don’t they realize that you forgot to get a job?

    And have you slain the Jabberwock? I hope not. Jabberwock season doesn’t open for another couple of months.

  13. Gracie says:

    Happy early Birthday Alison – I grew up reading DTWOF in Off Our Backs. Thanks for such treasured work over the years.

  14. At least they used “Ms” instead of “Mrs”. I guess that’s a benefit of being younger than Gloria Steinem?


    But Alison, what will you retire from? Don’t they realize that you forgot to get a job?

    Donna Andrews had a sixty-ish character use the phrase “have attained maturity” in her book Swan for the Money. It replaced “late middle age”.

  15. Ian says:

    50 = “get over yourself”

    Have a big party with as many friends as possible there. Do something crazy that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the nerve like entering a knitting contest, swimming with penguins or skydiving naked.

    A friend of mine’s turning 50 in December and we’re not even allowed to mention it. I’m going to do one of those things like getting a star named after her or buy an acre of the moon. Someone I know got a rose named after his wife. All corny but heartwarming.

  16. Ian says:

    Ooops the first bit of that post should read:

    From people under 50 = sympathy
    From people over 50 = “get over yourself”

    It didn’t like the greater/less than symbols being used. *sighs* Another great post sent west by technology …

  17. Tom says:

    Happy birthday in advance!

    I humbly ask your clearance to let me post this off-topic:

    Agribusiness and plantation owners keeps in hands a strong coalition in brazilian congress. Thay have tabled and passed (in the low deputies’ chamber) a proposal that will destroy our forests — dramatically reducing the size of law-protected land and giving complete amnesty to enviromental crimes. If approved, these legislative amendments will have massive detrimental impact on Brazil and the world. This vicious attempt still can be defeated in Senate, or even by a veto from our president Lula da Silva. But that may happen only with outstanding pressure and protests, and international opinion weighs highly on it. Brazil has a major political campaign for October general ellection running, and that might count in favor.

    That’s why I sincerely ask you friends to support this petition and help us to keep the law from changing.

    Thank you really much!

  18. angrydyke says:

    still sexy as all get out.. 😉

  19. judybusy says:

    Tom, I signed the petition–thanks for posting it here. I didn’t have time to translate the message on your blog post about this earlier!

  20. Hey, Living 400lbs — love yr blog. Thanks for the link.

  21. Living400lbs says:

    Maggie – thanks!

  22. Ready2Agitate says:

    Likewise, Living – way cool! (I noticed “Health at Every Size” by Linda Bacon mentioned on the blog, which I recommended here awhile back when we were discussing something related). 🙂 (great feminist minds…)

    AB – flaunt it, girl – just whip out that AARP card and ask some cute waitron to kindly pour your glass of wine for you. 🙂

    Funny AARP has the largest membership in the world, I think. But Hairball, I thought they just used census or social security number data to find you…. (as in, I din’t think it was particularly sleuthy of them).

  23. nylon spandex fabric says:

    cool post,thank you for share

  24. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ian (#15)

    Of all the activities you mention, naked skydiving is one I would *not* recommend. Realize that you are exiting an aircraft traveling in excess of 100 MPH (160 KMH). Depending on your length of freefall, you will be descending at terminal velocity (9.8 meter/second, the acceleration of gravity). Every molecule of air that hits your skin is bracing (to put it mildly), and any particles HURT. Even stray hairs whipping from under the helmet sting. Then there’s the harness. It’s TIGHT. And when your canopy opens and you are jerked upright, you sure as hell will want something between you and the webbing, especially in the groin area. Lastly, not everyone lands in the peas (the gravel pit landing zone). I don’t even want to think about what happens during a tree landing in the buff.

    (… goes back to her long-ago memories of adrenaline rushes, her current rushes occurring when she scurries across the street as the “Don’t Walk” sign lights up …)

  25. judybusy says:

    Ian, anytime you want to go skydiving nekkid, call me.

  26. NLC says:

    Sorry, but the physics geek in me is calling for a clarification.

    The acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 meters/second/second. (In other words, you are accelerating –that is your velocity is changing– such that every second you are going 9.8 meters/second faster than you were the second before.)

    However, this is only really true if you were falling in a vacuum.

    Because of wind-resistance a falling body will eventually reach a fastest speed, called “Terminal Velocity” (a curiously scary term to use when discussing sky diving…) The exact value of the speed will depend on things like the shape of the object (for example, if you are spread-eagle, and have a lot of wind-resistance, you are going fall more slowly than if you narrow your body, and point straight down like an arrow). For a freely tumbling human body, terminal velocity is about 120mph.

    But, yeah, like HOH says, naked sky-diving sounds fun, but I suspect that the reality may be different. Imagine yourself strapped to the front of truck traveling 120-130mph. Think bugs…

  27. hairball_of_hope says:

    @NLC (#26)

    Physics geeks rule! Yeah, I meant 9.8 meter/second squared for the acceleration of gravity.

    Formation skydivers use wind resistance to get themselves lined up in all those complex patterns during dives. Their jumpsuits have these little winglet things to catch air and slow descent when desired, and then they smooth their aerodynamic profile by tucking in to minimize drag and quickly get themselves into the next position.

    Terminal velocity does sound scary, but it’s only a bad thing if that’s the speed at which one contacts a solid object. Then skydivers go SPLAT! like bugs on a truck windshield.

    Recreational skydivers use large canopies to slow descent, their primary objectives being to maximize time in the air and have maximum maneuverablity. Military paratroopers use smaller canopies which are designed to get them out of the air much more quickly, at something less than terminal velocity, while fully loaded down with weapons and gear. Very tough on the body.

    What’s in a name… I used to drive past a restaurant called Terminal Diner. I never set foot in the place, I figured in a prior incarnation it was named Ptomaine Palace.

    (… starts practicing her PLFs (Parachute Landing Falls) for her old age, so she won’t break a hip …)

  28. Acilius says:

    You think bugs, I think about how cold it is at altitude. I imagine going into shock before it’s time to pull the ripcord.

  29. hairball_of_hope says:

    @R2A (#22)

    Geez, even the author’s name has bacon in it!

    AARP can’t use Census or Social Security data. Personally-identifiable Census data are embargoed for 70 years. Personally-identifiable SS data are not available at all (perhaps the only exception to this are the data available in the Social Security Death Index, available after a person’s death). Both are useful tools for genealogy, but not for mailing things to living persons.

    AARP uses an amazing bunch of public and private record sources to amass their databases. They must have really good analysis tools to merge the data; unlike all the other mailing lists I’m on, I’ve never gotten duplicates or odd permutations of my name from them. I’ve never heard of anyone getting an erroneous AARP invitation, or them getting the birthdate wrong. And once you join AARP, that database is valuable to marketers, to whom AARP rents the names for big bucks.

    (… goes back to contemplating Groucho Marx’s comment, “I would never want to join a club that would have me as a member” …)

  30. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Acilius (#28)

    Add in windchill factor too. Not to worry about shock, the adrenaline will wake you right up.

    (… Arch. Look, reach, pull! Check canopy. Check slider. Check shroud lines. Release brakes. Grab toggles and steer. …)

  31. Kate L says:

    Comedian Richard Klein complained that AARP had sent him a trial membership card in honor of his 50th birthday. His comment: “Who asked them???!!!”

    Say, I just realized that I still wear a pair of dark orange socks that I’ve had since 1971. I got them when I was a junior in high school! Is that an unusually long time to keep the same pair of socks? They are just now beginning to show wear. And, I am currently wearing a t-shirt from a stratigraphic conference that I attended in 1992, on which the printing and artwork is just as crisp as when it was new.

  32. Bechadelic1 says:

    I sincerely hope that I look as fit as you do now, when I turn 50, Alison. Btw, they say that 40 is the new 30 so technically you’re only about to turn 40!

  33. Renee S. says:

    I found an AARP card for “Valued Resident” in my mailbox today. The expiration date is 10-31-2010. Hmmmm, I never even dated anybody with that birthday let alone anyone who was named Valued.

    Wonder where they got that info, and why they delivered to me? My AARP cards always have my name on it.

    Maybe my cat is in their database. He’s been retired since the day I found him under my porch when he was just a kitten. But then, if the AARP data was accurate, it would have been addressed to “Mr. Scooter S.” And how could they possibly know that I brought him indoors for keeps on a cool October evening? But it wasn’t Halloween. He’s not even a black cat.

    AB, have you ever received mail for Dr. Winnicott?

    The AARP computers must be going haywire.

    Speaking of haywire,,,where the heck did that expression come from? Must be farm talk.
    (…going back to shredding junk mail…)

  34. maxine says:

    My wife got one too. I love how vague they are about a spouse’s card. I am going to pay her dues just to see if I get a spouse’s card…

  35. Cathy says:

    Somehow AARP never found out about me–I’m 54 and have never gotten their card in the mail (my husband received his about a month before his 50th birthday). Should I be worried that AARP is shunning me for some reason? Or will I remain ever youthful as long as I don’t get that card with my name on it?

  36. Ready2Agitate – thanks!

    In a weird coincidence, today I got the first-ever comment to a post I wrote about DTWOF almost 2 years ago…. Weird!

  37. Ian says:

    @judybusy(25): Go skydiving naked? Ha! I’m 4 years short of 40 and I still haven’t done everything I wanted to do before I was 30!

    @hoh(misc): I can honestly say I hadn’t thought about the physics involved. I have seen a telly programme that alleged a couple had jumped and had sex on the way down. I’m not sure I believe it now.

  38. Andrew B says:

    Renee S, 33, one putative etymology of “haywire” refers to nineteenth century logging camps. The camps were largely isolated through the winter. They relied on horses for skidding (dragging) the fallen trees and other work. The horses were fed hay, which came bound in wire. When things broke, the wire could be put to use mending them — but obviously not very well. So a camp where a lot of things had broken and been crudely repaired had gone haywire.

    Believe it or don’t — I’m skeptical of most etymology myself. But I have seen this advanced as a serious explanation.

  39. NLC says:


    I think you’re right to be doubtful here.

    According to [This Site], typical jump heights are from around 12,000-14,000 feet “Above Ground Level”, which affords a (maximum) free fall time of “slightly over one minute”.

    Now, there are perhaps a lot of unanswered questions here (Did “the act” allegedly occur during free fall, or while dangling from the deployed ‘chute? Had the couple, well, “started” before they left the plane? In this case, what is the definition of “had sex”?) but –particularly once you take into account 1] the time required for the individuals to get close enough to “achieve reentry” and 2] the number of other distractions involved.– this seems a little brief.

  40. Ian says:

    Hmmmm, the idea of skydiving naked really has captured the imagination here hasn’t it? I notice my other ideas of knitting contests or swimming with penguins haven’t attracted similar analysis!

    @NLC(39 (the number, not the age)): in the programme I saw, docking had already been achieved in the plane before jumping. I also don’t know when any of you actually, or if ever, had sex with a man, but those of you who have will know that 1 minute is plenty of time for some men to achieve orgasm from penetration!

    A RLF friend of mine told me that what she most loved about being a lesbian was having sex that could last at least for hours, and quite possibly from Friday evening ’til Sunday.

  41. Dr. Empirical says:

    Naked freefall would be awfully cold, and I’d never want to attempt a landing without shoes.

    Now, naked TRAPEZE…

  42. Anonymous says:

    Alison, wishing you a very happy birthday in advance. Fie to the grim reaper!

    I’ll be 50 next year, and am currently in a state of advanced neurosis (in a non-clinical sense, obviously) about it. @Ian nos 15 & 16, I can’t wait to get over myself.

  43. Ian says:

    @Anon(42): I’m now worried I’ve offended someone. What I was trying to say was that people under 50 will have sympathy for anyone approaching that figure, but those people who haven’t committed self-immolation at the prospect of their half-century will tell people to get over themselves.

    Or maybe I should stop digging now I’m deep in this hole?

  44. Kate L says:

    (Kate L #31) That’s comedian ROBERT Klein, not Richard Klein. He don’t no respect. Not that that’s HIS trademark line. Maybe I should quit digging myself deeper!

  45. Acilius says:

    @Ian #43: When I first read the “get over yourself” line I thought of something I heard years ago, that you reach a certain age when people look at you and start to ask “What’s so special about you?” I’ve arranged much of my life around an attempt to be the youngest member of every group I’ve joined, so as to postpone that day. But now I’m 40, my boss is younger than I am, I’m a married man, etc, so that project is a thing of the past.

    #40: I don’t want to gross people out by talking about heterosexual sex, but let me just say that so long as there is a woman involved any sex session can last indefinitely…

    @Dr E #41: Now you’re on to something!

  46. j.b.t. says:

    A good friend of mine turned 50 a few years ago and started calling them her “f*** you fifties” because she was “too old to take anyone’s sh**” anymore!

    I’m just about to turn 40 myself. Looking forward to it. All the women I know say their 40s were better than their 30s.

    Happy Birthday Alison!

  47. Kat says:

    Happy Birthday Alison!!!!!!!

    when did you suggest swimming with penguins??? When you ever get around to that, do be sure to let me know. I’ll join you.

    I remember when my mum got her un-asked-for AARP card…..It was not a fun day in the Kat-and-her-mum house…..

  48. Marj says:

    Sorry, @Anon(42) was me. Been following Hairball’s advice and clearing cookies…

  49. Renee S. says:

    @ Andrew #38 thanks, it sounds plausible.
    I wonder who has the great job of researching word etymologies?

  50. NLC says:

    Message #50 (how symbolic)

    Note that today (4Aug) is President Obama’s birthday.

    His 49th.

    Don’t you just love being older than the president…

  51. more lemons says:

    the AARP have been sending my sweet young thing invites since he was in his 20s!

  52. Antoinette says:

    Happy birthday in advance.

    My year of being 50 was a hoot. I took up bellydance. And great fun was had (the music, the costumes, good times with friends, the ego-boo of performance) by all.

    AARP’s propaganda didn’t depress me as much as the Menopause Magazine. It’s a catalog full of such necessaries as air-conditioned PJs, mondo-expensive unguents and supplements, and dumbbells for your ladyparts. Except for the PJs, I’ll pass.

  53. Kate L says:

    (Kate L #44)”…Maybe I should quit digging myself deeper!” Too late! “He don’t get no respect”. Rodney Dangerfield’s famous tagline.

    It was primary election day here in Kansas, yesterday. Kent Kobach, a protegee of former state attorney general Phil Kline (now a professor at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and under investigation for improperly collecting and sharing the names of women seeking abortions) won the Republican primary for secretary of state. If elected, Kobach promises to clean up all the Kansas elections being “stolen” by illegal immigrants. No, I am not making this up! Oh, God…

  54. Ian says:


    Woman of a certain age in a newsagents: I’d like to order Menopause Magazine please.
    Clerk: Certainly madam.
    Woman: Does it come monthly?
    Clerk: There’s no reason why it would.

    An old Victoria Wood joke.

  55. hammerwoman says:

    My sweetie joined AARP when she turned 50- I forget why, funny thing, I’m 55 and had been resisting. . . but I didn’t really mind when their auto insurance came in $800 cheaper than the little lizard was getting and the motorcycle insurance was an even better deal. I can’t get all that upset about being old(er), though. . .this ol’ tranny is just happy to be alive, going to my RN job, still racing motorcycles, thinking about playing hockey again. Living and loving, life is, well, life.

  56. Alex the Bold says:

    Re: AARP and all the rest …

    So AARP will keep sending you material until you break and sign up? They’ve got nothing on the ACLU. I signed up as a student in my 20s, gave them $35, got a great T-shirt. I have, conservatively, received at least four dozen “Final Notice” warnings that I will receive no further solicitations for membership, and that I MUST ACT NOW.

    I no longer give them any money. When stopped by an earnest young man a few months ago, I told him why I don’t give to the ACLU: I don’t like all my donation being spent on trying to get me to give more money.

    Looks like I’ll be giving the AARP folks a pass as well. (And The Nation magazine is just as bad.)

  57. Alex the Bold says:

    And I almost forgot. Happy Birthday. We all love you to bits.

  58. Sara says:

    A friend and I both received AARP cards in the mail recently. We both considered joining (for the discounts and all), but thought maybe we’d wait a while longer since we were both 32 years old when the cards arrived. Good job, AARP.

  59. It happens to the best of us. I got my card last year. Forget about the card-carrying lesbian thing. Now I’m a card-carrying… I don’t know what. Meanwhile, I haven’t been “card”ed for buying beer at the grocery store in decades. ‘sigh’

    Susan Gabriel
    author of Seeking Sara Summers
    (a novel about falling in love with your best friend)

  60. SomethingClever says:

    Callouh! Callay!

  61. Charles Pierson says:

    Someone needs to have a “talk” with AARP.

    You just know that the gnomes at AARP are filled with sadistic glee when they send those notices out.