WHAT WE NEVER TALK ABOUT AT PARTIES…

Look, I’m not saying we have every little thing sorted…if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we’re still pretty buggered. But I think we’ve come a long way in forcing each other to talk…talk about what scares us and angers us and hurts us.

But there is this thing that scares the hell out of me and I can’t pick up any relevant chatter around the water-cooler. (I’ve always wanted to use ‘chatter’ in a real life sentence. It makes me feel all CIA-y…)

Retirement. Everything about it. Scares the white wax out of me.

At my place of work we are forced to retire when we turn 60 years old. And for an academic, that is felling the tree at its strongest. For the last ten years I’ve seen colleagues reach 60 with this child-like, stars-in-the-eyes hope that their contracts would be renewed. And every time the returned reply was: ‘no.’

Thanks for 16 hour work days…but bu-bye.

Those great minds then return home with a little white envelope of money that should be enough for a big, lavish dinner at a local restaurant.

But the dinner is actually perfectly fine, I’ll take the dinner. I don’t expect a medal when I retire. And I’ll keep myself busy enough, tinkering away at things and hobbies and things. And when my pantry runs on empty I’ll pop over to the local store and stock up. Maybe I’ll live in a nice-ish retirement village. So I’ll have roses in my garden. And I’ll mosy over to Mavis’s home and share a gin glass full of wine and gossip about all the old bones in the place…

Yes, I’m drinking heavily in my golden years…

Mavis will complain about not seeing her kids and I’ll offer to help her install Zoom on her computer and then she’ll roll her eyes and say “computers are for young people and yuppies.”

I’ll return to my home and I’ll read and write and drink my wine from a gin glass. But I won’t be needed. No-one will come to me for advice or help or to vent their frustrations because some tool suggested they are as intelligent as a broken fridge.

At some point I may visit someone in the hospital or eat at a nice restaurant or window shop in a mall. People won’t call me ‘Miss’ or ‘Doctor’ or ‘Professor’ or even by my name. They will call me ‘dearie’ or ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’.

Then I’ll be forced to turn to them with my pilates core and vegetarian gut, and I’ll be compelled to respond: Oh fuck off, buttercup. And I’ll place my red-lipsticked mouth to a large glass of whatever or buy an expensive bright yellow handbag or continue reading my erotic novel. And I’ll visit foreign countries or – if the pension does not permit – I’ll visit foreign cities and misbehave myself properly…

You know what, nevermind. Self-pity won’t follow me into my 60’s. I’m gonna be just fine.

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