Posted by: jhvn | 11/25/2012

Welcome to the Geezerhood Guide

Welcome to the Geezerhood Guide.

A few years ago I was driving down main street in the city, when an old guy in front of me was driving about 10 miles an hour. I muttered to my young friend in the passenger seat, “I wish this old geezer would get moving”. He looked at my grey head and said “So who are you to call him a geezer?” Well I was surprised and took a slight offense but tried not to let him see it, and I replied, “Oh, so I’m a geezer too, am I?” Now my friend had a bunch of black hair still on his head and was years younger (I found out later he was about 12 years younger). Diplomatically, he replied, “You drive really well for a geezer.”

Ever since that interchange I’ve been thinking about my Geezerhood. My body refuses to do so much that it used to easily. Back in the 1940s, I worked a couple of college summers in a factory that made fancy cardboard boxes for department stores. When the truck load of “board” (cardboard) arrived each week, the truckers tossed the 50-60 lb. bales of board down a shoot through a cellar window, and I caught each bale as it shot down the shoot, lugged it to the right place, and threw it on the stack up to way over my head. Now I can’t even carry a 40 lb. sack of water softener salt from my truck down to the cellar and pour it into the softener. So I have it delivered and poured. No doubt, I do qualify as a geezer.

Geezerhood has been running around in my head the last few days, and I’ve been getting itchy bumps on my rump lately. So something in me must be itching to write down what it’s like to be a geezer. None of the old guys I used to feel sorry for when they couldn’t find the word they were trying to say ever told me what that was like; and I was as embarrassed as they were. Now I can’t find the right word either, and writing this blog takes forever.

Many folks think that you just begin to fall apart as you get old. Your body refuses to do what your mind tells it to do, and your mind can’t even think straight. The latest update in the computer program you had spent 2 years getting your head around seems unfathomable. You find yourself in the doctor’s office again, and again and again. You suddenly realize why you retired – to find enough time for the medical treatment to stay alive. And the tragic feeling begins to sneak into your awareness that you’re losing yourself – at least losing the self you thought you were. So have you really been the self you thought you were? Who are you now, with a slower body? Who are you becoming – what is growing in you as the physical part of yourself declines and, let’s face it, moves slowly toward death? we all die sometime, you know.So The Geezerhood Guide has been born.

Good information and practice will improve our horseshoe pitching and our golf game. (The older we get, the more practice it takes.) So maybe with guidance, time, attention, and effort we can improve our geezerhood – and have some fun with it. As I’ve thought about it, dreamed about it, and tried some new ways of living with my own planned obsolescence (not planned by me, you understand), I begin to feel rather proud of my geezerhood. I like the title of a new book I read about recently: I Hope I Don’t Die Before I Get Old. (Unlike a line from My Generation, the famous song by the Who, “I hope I die before I get old.”). We have at least as much to learn in our geezerhood as we do in our childhood and adulthood.

I want to learn all I can while I’m still alive – and pass it on here.

I invite you to read my ramblings and share your musings and comments. Geezers of the World, Unite and Speak Out! We have much to learn from each other.

© John Van Ness 11/2012


  1. I particularly like the idea that retirement is what gives us time for all our doctors’ appointments. It also enables us to fill our pill-minders (weekly, in my case) and to discover what these mysterious generic formulations correspond to in brand names.
    I wish to point out that if one clicks on “View Full Profile” under your remarks, all one gets is a larger version of your head and shoulders (splendid and eminently geezeresque though that is)—no full profile at all!
    Can’t wait for the next installment.

  2. Hey G.J. (Geezer John), if you’re a geezer at your age, then, like a ‘tween who is just short of becoming a teen, I must be a ‘tweezer at my present age of 50! Us Tweezers can also learn from you Geezers! I can’t wait!…T. R. (Tweezer Robyn)

  3. Let’s talk about women aging into “biddihood”. I’ve reached the age of 70 and although I still feel like a 30 year old mentally, my body is proclaiming itself resistant to further abuse, whether it be on the ski slope or any action that requires bending. When I was a teenager in the 50’s, the term for an older garrulous woman was “biddy”. It reminded me of a bunch of hens clucking and squawking as they pecked for food on the ground. Well, I still cook up a storm when I have a mind to and don’t eat chicken feed. Many years ago I decided that every woman has just so many meals allotted to her to cook, and I have fulfilled mine. Any meals I cook today are just the cream on the milk. And THAT’s another old term that young people probably cannot identify with. But I digress. By most folks accounting, I have reach the age of “biddihood”, and my husband “geezerhood”. Together we represent that older generation that drives about in a Cadillac at 25 miles per hour and never uses a turn signal. Or do we? Actually, I drive pretty aggressively, much as I did as a 16 year old getting her license, but with more experience to keep me out of trouble. We drive a BMW, and we drive 5 miles over the speed limit. Somewhere I read that the latest generation of oldsters can be divided into 3 camps: the young old, or those 65 – 75; the middle-aged old, or those 76 – 86; and the old old, or those 87 – 95. So I am still young by one reckoning.
    Biddihood has its advantages. I can speak my mind now without worrying that someone will be offended. While I do care if you get offended by something I say, it doesn’t live long enough in my mind to make a difference. I tend to remember vividly events that happened 30 years ago and forget what happened yesterday. I can also demure from cooking up a fancy meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas and let my daughters do it. It’s not that I am old and frail, but that I know enough to send out email early asking WHO will be doing the holiday cooking this year and it never fails to get a response from one daughter or another. It also helps to have brought into the world three of them so that they can share the burden. That makes me a smart old biddy because I planned ahead.
    Frankly, that isn’t true. Back in the early 1960’s when I was having children, there was no birth control as safe and as efficient as the pill. Culturally, we women who were graduates of college often married right out of school and had babies almost immediately. Few of us went on to graduate school or to an exciting career in the Peace Corps. One sorority sister did just that and we all were proud of her and envious at the same time, while secretly fearing for her life – what was she getting herself into?
    Being a biddy today isn’t what it used to be and that’s a good thing, but I will settle for it so long as I can still rise in the morning from bed and feel well enough and fit enough to play a game of tennis or take a long walk. And while I don’t eat chicken feed, I have been known to pick up a bread crumb or two off the floor and eat it. The 5 second rule works for us old biddies too!

  4. Just joined and looking forward to the journey!

  5. What a great idea to create this guide…I remember when turning 40 was considered “over the hill” and I got black balloons and such…a mere child! Now moving into the 60’s was for me a rather disturbing deal…my body started to have some major issues and I became ever more preoccupied with the whole process of getting OLD. But then suddenly, a few months ago, at the age of 64, I felt something snap.. my fears were replaced by a militant, head down, take no prisoners go for the gusto shift.
    “Alas for those that never sing, / But die with all their music in them.”
    – Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Voiceless

    Have you considered writing a book!? You are an awesome writer…perhaps “An Idiot’s Guide to Geezerhood”? (seriously!!!!!)


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