Selling Senior Sextapes

Recently Kish and I have been receiving the AARP Bulletin.  For the most part, it’s the kind of publication you’d expect from an organization that caters to senior citizens.  This particular edition, for example, included an article about new Medicare scams taking advantage of the elderly, a how-to guide on 99 ways to save money and make that nest egg stretch farther, and an encouraging piece with the front-page teaser headline:  “Study Looks At Brain Aging:  Cognitive Decline Is Not Inevitable.”  (Hooray!)

IMG_5685The ads, too, are about what you would expect — with one exception.  In this edition, among the promotions for medical alert devices, walk-in showers, and life insurance, was a full-page ad entitled “Sex.  It’s Never Too Late To Learn Something New.”  Along with a picture of an amorous older couple, the text said “See for Yourself on Discreet Home Video” and “Real people demonstrating real sexual techniques.”  (If so, how discreet can they be?)

Eh?  Boy, that sounds suspiciously like porn, doesn’t it?  In fact, the ad copy seems to make that point so clear that even a senior citizen on the cusp of cognitive decline could grasp it by adding:  “Couples who watch together not only LEARN from what they see, but often report that the videos themselves are an ‘instant aphrodisiac.’  That’s because they show REAL couples (not actors) demonstrating the joys of REAL lovemaking.”  The ad promises that if you order within the next seven days you can get 50 percent off three of the videos, plus another three videos free — so viewers can get really educated!

The world is a fast-changing place, and we just need to accept it.  Even so, it’s weird to see AARP offering ad space to a company peddling senior citizen sextapes to the geriatric generation.  And really, what distinguishes these video volumes from the more sordid efforts that appeal to prurient interests?  The fact that it’s “REAL couples (not actors)” who are getting it on onscreen?  The fact that the videos have clinical titles like “The Art of Sex Positions” rather than bad sex-related puns on Hollywood movie titles?  Or the fact that the ads says the tapes are “recommended by leading doctors and therapists”?  (What would qualify a particular physician as a “leading doctor” for this purpose, do you think?)

Who knows?  Maybe the videos begin with a white coat wearing doctor, with a stethoscope draped around his neck, giving a little primer on anatomical matters that the sexed-up seniors have to endure before they can get to that ‘instant aphrodisiac.”

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Yes, It’s November

It is November 1.  Today many Americans will shake their heads sadly and say to a loved one, co-worker, or friend:  “Wow, can you believe it’s November already?  This year really has flown.”

If you find yourself making such a scintillating observation, you need to face facts — you’re obviously getting up there.  There is no surer sign of aging than remarking ruefully on the rapid passage of time.  AARP enrollment scouts that have infiltrated the general population listen for such comments and immediately arrange for membership mailings to be sent to the speaker.  Salesmen of retirement planning products target such people for detailed sales presentations on the merit of annuities.  You may as well make permanent reservations at the “early bird” sitting at the nearest inexpensive cafeteria that gives the Golden Buckeye card discount, lay in a lifetime supply of bluing rinse, and hitch your trousers up to nipple height.

In case you’ve forgotten, young people never say such things.  If they even notice that another month has gone by, it’s probably because it means that Christmas is another month nearer and, perhaps, it’s time to start behaving so they have a reasonable chance of being rewarded by Santa Claus.  Or, they are excited about Thanksgiving and seeing whether they can eat even more turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie than they did last year.  Or, they’re in high school or college and are looking forward to that long winter break when they can sleep in even later, get together with their friends, and worry their parents when they don’t come home until 2 a.m.

So, if you’re tempted today to express sad surprise that November is here, do yourself a favor and refrain.  You’re only demonstrating that, mentally at least, you’re far along on the road to geezerdom.

Breakfast At Bob’s

Normally I don’t eat breakfast.  I drink a cup of black coffee and a small glass of orange juice, and then I’m off.  A big breakfast makes me feel leaden, and that’s not how I want to begin a work day.

IMG_1142Today, however, I had breakfast with my siblings at Bob Evan’s.  It was jammed, of course.  If you go to a Bob Evan’s in central Ohio during the morning hours, it will be packed.  People like it because the food is of good quality, the wait staff is competent and friendly, they keep your coffee cup and water glass filled, and they don’t shove you out the door if you want to chat a bit after your meal.  I had a bottomless cup of well-brewed, medium strength coffee and the sausage gravy biscuit breakfast.  The biscuit was fluffy, the gravy was not salty (a common problem with sausage gravy at many diners) and chock full of sausage, there was enough gravy to cover my finely shredded hash browns, and it all was topped with an egg.  The dish was a steal at $5.99.

So what if most of the people who eat at Bob Evan’s are charter members of AARP?  It’s a nice place that follows a time-honored recipe for business success:  provide customers with excellent value for their hard-earned money.

And speaking of charter members of AARP, I thought it was interesting that UJ didn’t even need a menu.  He’s a Bob Evan’s regular who gets the same thing every time he visits.  What does that tell you?

The Post-AARP-Card-In-The-Mail Blues

The other day I received another AARP card in the mail.  Immediately my shoulders rounded a bit, I felt an irresistible impulse to hitch my trousers to nipple height, and I developed a keen interest in the weather.

I’ve gotten AARP stuff in the mail before.  On your 50th birthday, you inevitably get an AARP application as a special birthday treat.  At 50, you can laugh it off — but the AARP is persistent.  They keep sending you stuff, and sending you stuff, until they wear you down.  There is a certain grim inevitability to the process.  Once the AARP decides you should be a member, there’s nothing you can do about.  You are caught up, inexorably, in titanic forces beyond your control.

This latest card is heavy cardboard and has the whiff of permanence about it.  Its arrival moved me to verse:

My hair grows grayer

My face is lined

I’m looking older

But I don’t mind.

I ignore the years

Avoid my reflection

As my denial of age

Won’t bear close inspection.

But today my denial

Is impossibly hard

I’ve sadly received

An AARP card.

Saturday “Night” At The Windward Passage

Yesterday various members of the Webner clan — Mom, Kish, Richard, UJ, Cath, Al, and I — had dinner at the Windward Passage restaurant in Upper Arlington.  At least, I think you would call it dinner.  We got there at 4:30 p.m. to beat the rush.  Maybe “linner” is a better word for a meal that we consumed about two hours before we normally have our evening repast.

The bar at the Windward Passage

The Windward Passage, located in a shopping center at the intersection of Henderson and Reed Roads, is one of those throwback places.  It has been around since 1973, and most of its patrons have been frequenting the restaurant for decades.  I would wager that 99 percent of the patrons proudly carry their “Golden Buckeye” cards, and the average age of the drinkers and diners looks to be about 75.  During our visit last night, the emergency squad paid a visit to tend to one of the diners who collapsed, which probably is not that rare an occurrence. I would not be surprised if every Windward waitress had to take CPR training to qualify for the job.

Given their age, it should not come as a surprise that the Windward’s patrons are early birds.  Even arriving at the ungodly hour of 4:30, we barely got a table in the bar.  The place quickly became packed.  Thirsty seniors filled every seat at the bar, guzzling highballs and creating a serious din.  In the meantime, crowds of elderly citizens lurked by the bar and hovered near the tables.  Nothing like a white-haired guy with a walker and his elaborately coiffed wife glaring at you expectantly to spur quick consumption of your meal!  At one point, when the people at the table next to us left, competing groups of hoverers scrambled for the seats — well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say they with as much determination and speed as their artificial hips would allow — and for a few minutes we thought we might have to break up a cane duel between two of the more boisterous seniors.

Last night's Lake Erie perch dinner

Columbus seniors love the Windward because the food is cheap, plentiful, and well-prepared.  I can’t speak to the quality of the menu, generally, because I always get the same entree whenever I go there — fried Lake Erie perch with french fries.  The perch are excellent — lightly battered, moist and flavorful, and not greasy, and the french fries are crisp.  And if you are a senior looking to fill your belly and stretch your budget, you appreciate the fact that the meal comes with broccoli, cottage cheese and a basket of bread.

When we left at around 6 the bar area was jammed and there was a crush of starving seniors hanging out in the Windward’s waiting area — no doubt regularly checking with the maitre d’ to see where they stood on the waiting list and looking in the dining room hoping to stare down a few diners and intimidate them into leaving early.  When Kish and I got home we decided to join AARP.

COLA Zero (Cont.)

I’ve previously criticized President Obama for proposed a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, and others, who will not be increasing a cost of living increase in their benefits this year due to the lack of measured inflation.  I’m disappointed, but frankly not surprised, to see that Republicans also appear to be going along with the proposal. They just want to pay for it from existing “stimulus” funds, rather than new borrowing.  In the interests of even-handedness, then, I make this post to criticize congressional Republicans, as well as President Obama and congressional Democrats, for their profligate ways.  Republican leaders may talk tough about fiscal responsibility and reining in spending, but when the time comes to stand up for that principle, in a way that might cost them some political capital, they are no more resolute than the most big-spending liberal — but are a heck of a lot more hypocritical.

American taxpayers should despair about the irresponsible individuals running our national government.  The bailout bills and stimulus bill were like the crack cocaine of spending legislation:  once members of Congress and the Administration saw how easy it was to enact massive, rushed, poorly vetted spending bills, their solution to every economic problem, and every political problem, is to enact legislation that shovels money that the federal government doesn’t have to individuals and entities who don’t really need it.  With all due respect to senior citizens, they are, as a group, no more in need as a result of this recession than any other demographic group.  There is simply no reason to spend $14 billion to give them an additional $250 — other than to curry political favor with a group that votes.

COLA Zero

This year Social Security recipients will not be receiving an cost of living increase in their benefits because inflation has been negative for the year due to the drop in energy prices.  It is the first year since 1975 — when Social Security benefits were pegged to inflation through COLAs — that Social Security benefits will not increase.

Senior citizens and their lobbying arm, the AARP, are a potent political force, and therefore it is not surprising that politicians, including President Obama, have immediately weighed in and argued that the federal government should make a $250 payment to more than 50 million senior citizens, as well as veterans, railroad workers, and people with disabilities.  You can do the math — such a proposal, if enacted, would add more than $12 billion, perhaps as much as $14 billion, to the federal deficit.

I have nothing against senior citizens, but I do object to what seems like blatant pandering.  The current weak economy has thrown millions out of work and affected the standard of living of countless millions more.  Why should senior citizens, who already receive significant sums in federal benefits, receive an additional cash payment from the government?  Social Security benefits have been pegged to inflation for more than 30 years, and seniors have done pretty well as a result.  Take a look at this chart published by the Social Security Administration.  The COLAs have worked to the significant advantage of seniors; in 2008, for example, seniors received a 5.8 percent increase in their Social Security benefits.  I know a lot of people who would have been happy to receive a 5.8 percent compensation increase at the end of last year.

If this is the year when prices don’t increase, and therefore no COLA increase is forthcoming, why should we change our approach?  Why should our already already overwhelming federal deficit be increased by billions more?  If we can’t resist shoveling out more money when a time-honored formula says we shouldn’t, is there really any hope that our politicians will be able to show the resolve necessary to bring our ridiculous deficit spending under control?