"Only you know when it's time to start yelling 'get off my lawn!'".
My wife's level of mirth was almost unbearable. She said this to me as a way of softening the blow. Her totally amused "kindness" came after an exclamation of "Oh my god" that made me think she'd somehow caught her finger in the paper shredder.
She hadn't. Instead, the evil organization known as the AARP -- the corporate incarnation of the Grim Reaper himself -- had found me. Holding out one boney finger, their five-part (which included two membership cards) offer letter invited me, for a mere $16, to take that mental step from immature middle age to the age where "Get off my lawn" is a greeting among geezers.
I am not yet 50. I had not yet fully acknowledged in my mind that before 2011 was out, I will -- in fact -- be part of a new, geezer demographic. My wife was deeply amused.
She's considerably younger than me. She's got time to wait out this particular indignity and so, that made the AARP's intrusion into my life that much more irresistibly mock-worthy. She's a sweetie, but some things just can't be passed up, I guess. Karma.
Sure, I can be cranky. I can be crotchety. I can disapprove of virtually anyone. But that doesn't mean I have to join the AARP. First, of course, I'M NOT FRICKIN' 50!! Second, I'm not retired and have no intention of retiring anytime soon. Third, the AARP is for a demographic for which I have not yet emotionally accepted (or until now, even considered) membership.
So why am I telling you, you ZDNet technology denizens?
Well, first, because you're here and you didn't run away fast enough. Get off my lawn!
Where was I? I want some pancakes. What?
Oh, yeah. I'm telling you this because the database marketing machine used by the AARP decided it was time to introduce me to my impending 50-ness well before they should have. Apparently, once you turn 50, you can become an AARP member and, as a bonus for joining, get a bag that only a retired person who no longer cares what anyone thinks would carry in public.
So, you say, "You're tough. You can take being told you're turning 50." To which I answer, "Sure." I can also "take" having boiling oil poured on my head (or using a Mac), but I'm not going to enjoy it -- or seek it out.
Getting an offer like this felt really uncool. It was made all the more disturbing because I've been enormously careful not to publish the date or even year of my birth. It's not on my Facebook page. I don't provide it whenever there's an option not to.
So how did the Grim AARPer find my date of birth? As far as I can tell, it can only have been from one class of information: medical or insurance records. The only place I ever put my DoB is on medical and insurance records, because if you don't, health care providers will often deny service.
That, my fellow ZDNetters, is why I'm telling you this. Because we entrust out confidential and private information to the health care industry, but we see -- over and over again -- that they do not deserve our trust. I don't know if it was an insurance company or a doctor (I haven't been in a hospital for a very long time), but someone -- without my permission -- sold the AARP my personal information.
There's something to be cranky about. Now, get off my lawn!
Some politically-correct person out there is bound to accuse me of being "ageist". Yes, yes I am. I am NOT 50 yet and I don't want to deal with being 50 until I'm dang 50!