By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Three weeks ago I celebrated what might be my last “anticipatory” birthday – I turned 64. These “anticipatory” birthdays are something that I completely fabricated (like a lot of other things I write about) to recognize that some years, all we really want to do is get to the next birthday. For me, since my health insurance is being cancelled as of December 31, I am waiting in breathless anticipation to turn 65 and be eligible for Medicare. Hopefully “breathless” is a slight exaggeration since I would prefer to be breathing when I turn into an official Senior Citizen.
But this birthday got me to thinking about other “anticipatory” birthdays I’ve had. The first was when I turned 12 and couldn’t wait to be 13 – an official teen-ager. I imagined all sorts of wonderful things would happen once I was finally in my teens. Alas, all I got was a few pimples and wild hormonal shifts. After that, I focused all of my attention to turning 16, when I could finally get my driver’s license. Every teen-ager dreams of that day when the world opens up and you can cruise Main Street unsupervised. I spent my entire 15th year counting down the days to 16. I took all of the requisite driver’s ed classes and then suddenly lost my desire to drive. As I look back on it, I think I may have been unduly influenced by the teacher screaming in my ear and his constant pumping the imaginary brakes on his side of the car. Or maybe, it was because
the car that I would have been driving was my mother’s 1962 Fiat.It was a strange, VERY small car, something akin to today’s Smart Car,only without any safety features whatsoever. It also had something called “compound low”. I was never sure what that meant other than anytime we needed to go up a slope greater than 3 degrees, my mother had to shift it into that gear. So I actually waited until I was 17 to get my license, when my mother had upgraded to a 1967 Chevy, approximately the size of the Queen Mary.
The next great expectation was turning 20 – only twelve more months until I could drink! Legally. Actually, I didn’t have to wait a full year since my boyfriend at the time (well over 21) decided to “doctor” my driver’s license by scraping off the left-hand circles of the “8” , thus turning it into a rather lopsided “3”. So all that spring and summer I flashed my license at every bartender and was served without so much as a farethewell. I don’t think any of them were fooled by the amateurish editing on my license but drinking laws were not quite as strict then and I looked like I was good for the $1 beer tab. Only I didn’t drink beer. I decided it was ever so sophisticated to drink Gimlets. I don’t know how or why I got that into my head – I probably had watched some old “Thin Man” movie and saw Myrna Loy drinking them.
And then since age 21 there’s been a dearth of “anticipatory” birthdays. Sure, I’ve had parties to celebrate the beginnings of new decades, but other than having to start my age with a new number, they were all rather meaningless. So I was convinced this was going to be my big year until I remembered that I’m not eligible for Social Security until I turn 66. So I actually have ONE MORE big “anticipatory” birthday after this! I also learned this week that some people have additional anticipatory birthdays beyond Social Security. Jimmy Fallon noted last week that Bill Clinton turned 68 or as Fallon “quoted” him – one more year until the “fun” one!
In any event, I will celebrate the coming year in style. I will collect the deluge of supplemental medicare flyers that will come my way. I will set up an Excel spreadsheet and compare each one and get my paperwork in three months early. I will schedule an appointment for a physical and hope that I need some test that is horribly expensive, where I can just flash my Medicare card and have it all paid for by someone other than me. I will, at last, be a “taker” rather than a “giver”.