What the Mail Brung

I love checking the mail… aways have. It doesn’t hold the allure it once did. Way back in those bygone days when people still wrote letters, the mailbox held potential treasure six days a week. All that stood between me and a decadent life I always dreamed of was a lowered red flag and that metallic “thwunk” of the door.

Maybe a long-lost uncle found me! “You may already be a winner!” says Ed McMahon and if anyone is trustworthy, it’s Ed McMahon! Yes sir, Mr. McMahon – I will play your stamp games and subscribe to seven magazines which are offered to me at a substantial discount from cover price! Columbia House wants to send me eleven record albums for a penny? Where do I sign?

Those days are sadly gone. But I still hold a fool’s notion that one day, in between the junk mail and bills, there will be a letter that changes everything. I have no idea what I’m expecting and I wish I could adequately describe the anticipation. My mailbox experience almost always falls short – except on those glorious days when we get a letter from Zimbabwe where our friend, Clarance lives. Those are good days.

On the first day of October, it brought a new sensation. It started innocuously – a letter addressed to me had “Happy Birthday” printed on the bottom corner. Of course, that piqued my interest because I have one coming at the end of the month. The big 5-0! I’m not caught up on the number. It always feels strange to enter a new decade, but besides some knee pain and pesky ear hair, I’m faring pretty well. And it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t, it’s still coming.

This letter felt so warm and personal but instead brought something strange and terrible. I had barely shut the little black door when my life hit a new low as I contemplated my potential induction into the AARP.


Let me be clear – retirement isn’t on the horizon. In fact, I can’t even see the horizon for all the tuition payments and wedding bills ahead of me. So this offer seemed utterly ridiculous. When I reached the kitchen table I rolled through a textbook case of the five stages of grief right in front of my kids who laughed incessantly.

Denial: Surely not! Retirement age is 67, isn’t it? A quick check online told me that I can enjoy all the benefits of membership now… Ugh.

Anger: How do they know? Where did they get my data? Probably Equifax. Everybody has everything now. My anger has been further exacerbated by the fact that solicitations to join now pop up in my Facebook feed.

Bargaining: I’m not really retirement age. They’re just trying to expand their base by letting us younger pups in early. This is a marketing ploy, nothing more. After all, I’ve been getting VFW letters for year.

Depression: I’m getting so old. Seriously, how can I have lived half a decade? There can’t be much gas left in the tank. Better make sure my affairs are in order.

Acceptance: Hey, maybe there are discounts!


The unanswered card still sits on my vanity. It looks festive and inviting but I can’t bring myself to send it back. I could always use a sporty tote – but the fellas will give me grief about the AARP monogram. And I like Denny’s as much as the next guy, but do I have to eat dinner before 5 pm for the 10% off? While discounts are nice, on some level I feel like whipping out your AARP card is akin to using coupons on a date.

I’m so torn…

Hey, is indecision is a sign of old age?


17 thoughts on “What the Mail Brung

  1. Loved this lol. First because my hope for my main source of income someday, is in the revival of my greeting card business. My business motto is: tell someone you care by putting a stamp on it! Now days it seems as if the only people who still “send” cards are the ones not on Facebook or social media savvy!
    As for AARP, you my friend are just a baby. In making a memory board for my mom’s Memorial next week & gathering all of her photos, the message I kept hearing is: life happens in a blink of an eye! I kept thinking “she was younger than I am now here.” It seems like just last year I received my first AARP notification. THAT was ten years ago! And you know what? I still haven’t responded! Lol. Happy Birthday!

    1. I love that motto. It is so true. Any other form of communication isn’t quite the same as a handwritten letter. I am sure it was bittersweet putting together the memorial board. Sorry for your loss.

  2. I love everything you write. Clever!!! My husband and I , at age 76 and 77 have experienced those very feelings!!! We never joined!!!!

    1. I got so many records that I had to send back. I never remembered to mail the “I don’t want this” card back to them. Wish I still had all of that vinyl.

  3. Hubby and I took a principled stance to NOT join AARP. It has gone astray and will support any government program which takes money out of the pockets of our kids (remember being newly married?) to put into ours. Besides, the young families are the ones who need the discounts, not the oldsters. An AARP card will never cross the portal of my wallet! Just sayin’…..

    P.S. We do use our AAA discounts. They are at least equal opportunity.

  4. Being old comes with too many T&C’s. The primary requirement for “membership” is to have money. The second requirent is to be feeble-minded enough to give it to “whoever”. I say take the discounts but don’t sell your soul.
    NB they haven’t let me “join” yet – and I beat you by a decade! 😎🙂😎

  5. i loved this post for so many reasons, mark. first of all, i am the same way with the mail, and still send hand written letters. i am also always anticipating my unexpected windfall to land in my mailbox one day. as for the aarp, i got an invite from them years ago that said, ‘hey, you’ve been qualified for years!’

  6. Loved this. I got my “invite” this year as well. Chunked that sucker right in the trash. Liberals…Happy Birthday early!

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