On the happy day when the AARP membership card appears in the mailbox at the end of the road, the newly minted senior citizen senses that his load's been lightened a bit. Having attained that certain age and now with a card to prove it, he has been licensed to pursue all of life's familiar pleasures just as before, but at a discount. And, more power to him and his peers, I say. In this world of hyper-priced goods and services - which, I know, is merely the price we pay for living in this special, nay, precious place - license to take five percent off here, fifteen off there, even twenty-five on occasion, is hard won and deserved, without question.
But, whatever freedoms and permissions may accrue to the benefit of the ancient and venerable on account of their antiquity and effective lobbying in Congress, there is one license that has not been granted, not yet anyway. They may not commit codger poetry. No, indulge the senior set as we may, mankind's generosity cannot be made to extend to creaky, conventional, arthritic rhyming.
I'm writing to warn you that this memo is, sadly, too late to stop Mr. Don Weill of Westfield, New Jersey and Longboat Key, Florida. Mr. Weill, a former reporter for the Long Island Star-Journal and later the publisher of the small daily Somerset Star, is now the author of "The Older I Get ... Light Verse from a Senior Perspective" (Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia 2006). This is not the first verse Mr. Weill has promulgated. His rhymes have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Saturday Evening Post, and he's written another book of verse, "The Reluctant Investor and Other Light Verse." How he got off the beam with the most recent book, I cannot say, but he needs a good talking to.
Actually, Mr. Weill claims to have written some of these poems before he aspired to be the laureate of the geriatric set. Some, before he was middle-aged. Those, he put in a hard-to-reach drawer in the desk, and there they matured as he did until, I imagine, that glorious day came when he trudged to the mailbox at the end of the drive at the Longboat Key house and swooned in the AARP embrace. And, composing himself, he thought, I know what I'll do with those old poems, I'll loose them on the world.
So, we read,
I wasn't there at the very start of it,
But I'm grateful to have been a part of it.
Or, how about,
It would mean a lot to me,
Pure joy would fill my cup,
If I could win the lottery
Before my number's up.
We've ridden that old roller coaster called life,
We've known all the ups and the downs.
Sometimes we've acted like kings and like queens
And sometimes we've acted like clowns.
Here's to our lives and the parts that we played,
Here's to our family and friends,
Here's to our place in the human parade,
Let's enjoy the parade 'til it ends.
"The Older I Get ..." turned up in my mailbox the other day. I tossed it aside, fumbling in the mailbox's battered depths for the AARP card I'm expecting daily. No luck. I picked up the slim volume with the large type. Now, mailbox disappointment can put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day, whether because you got something - a bill from the IRS - you didn't want or because you didn't get something you wanted, which was my case. And that may have inspired my resistance to Mr. Weill's versifying. Or, it just may be a certain building crochet that accumulates with age. But really, I think it goes deeper than that. Aging and old age are not appropriate topics for limericks and tired rhymes. They are Homeric topics, better suited to epic poems, because, in mailbox terms, while all of us are delighted by the offer of a discount, no one wants his story told in doggerel's discounted meter.