Recently I realized something. I realized that I’m not 24 anymore. I guess I saw the clues but just decided to ignore them. Pretty, young girls don’t smile at me because I’m cute, they smile at me like they smile at their Grandpa Herb. The Indians never called about a pitching tryout, my friends are getting older and some of them are retired and I can’t remember the last time that I did something for a stranger and heard, “thank you, young man.” And the biggest clue? My oldest son is 38.
There were other things too, like the mail. More and more AARP mail: would I like to take a tour of a lovely assisted living village, have I thought about a preplanned funeral and what about some type of marble memorial? I noticed that my magazines were changing too. The ads all seemed to be about arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes and other afflictions so bad that rather than suffer with the ailments people are willing to take medications with side effects which may include a loss of hearing, blurry vision, death or worst of all, an oily discharge.
Ads for retirement planning and management were all over the magazines and TV: Senior citizens walking along the beach hand in hand or sailing off of Cape Cod or strolling in their lovely vineyard on the side of a hill. I remember when we got married and an insurance man asked Jeanie and me if we had thought much about retirement. How much did I think we will need? What long range planning had I done other than next weekend? Why for just $1.37 a day, through the magic of compounding, we could retire and enjoy our golden years the way they were meant to be enjoyed. I can’t remember any of the things that I bought with all those $1.37s but it was a good idea then and it’s a good idea now except now I’d have to salt away around $2300 a day to get to that same place. That’s probably not going to happen.
So I started to think. What is it that I like to do? What is it that I could do that would give me satisfaction and maybe make some money for myself and my bride while not chaining us down to a strict routine in our golden years?
I started thinking about a story, a pretty good story that I’ve had in my head which could be turned into a book and possibly a major motion picture. It’s the story of a young boy who had a paper route and then went to high school and then to college and then got a job. I was getting excited about seeing my story come to life and then I thought, oh no you don’t, I’m not getting trapped into that talk show circuit.
Then I thought about something else. I’ve always wanted to take up painting. You know, buy some oils, some brushes and canvasses, just see what blossoms and maybe put some of the works in a gallery. I was almost out the door heading to the art supply store when I thought about my sister in law. She’s an artist, some would say she’s fairly good, and she would probably get ticked off if I pulled the art spotlight away from her.
What is it that I can do to take advantage of my talents and also, make a little money? What is it that I am really good at? What do I like to do? I like to eat and sleep. I kept rolling that over in my mind, eat and sleep, eat and sleep, eat and sleep, sleep and eat. Sleep and eat, that’s it, open a bed and breakfast. Find a fixer upper, paint it up, build some quaint furniture, order some appropriate apparel from L.L. Bean, put out a sign with a catchy name and open a bed and breakfast. How hard could that possibly be? I would buy the place for a song, completely gut and remodel it and Jeanie could make wonderful meals. What a great idea. If the house had 35 bedrooms the first year we could clear between 450 and $600,000. Not bad. Any house I could afford would only have 2 or 3 bedrooms but you’ve got to start somewhere.
I could see it all in front of me. Early in the evening, after the dinner hour, because we would only serve breakfast, cars would start to pull up out front.
“Welcome to our (enter catchy name here) bed and breakfast”. I would introduce myself and Jeanie to the guests and they would “ooh and aah” and ask about our establishment.
“So tell us about your place”
“Well, it was built in 1848 by Marvin Fulton, the son of Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat. We’ve carefully restored the house by replacing everything. It’s all exactly like it was in 1848 except for the flat screen TVs and the electric lights and the plumbing and the windows and the heating/cooling and the furniture and the mattresses.”
The guests would meet one another and then we would all sit in the parlor and have wonderful conversations about books and authors. Maybe we would discuss international finance or I could tell them about the time I fixed the lawnmower. Then the guests would retire to their rooms and Jeanie and I would be off to the kitchen to prepare part of the breakfast.
The next morning the smell of her coffee and pancakes on the griddle would bring the guests down to the dining room.
“Something smells good”, they would all say.
“Light, fluffy pancakes with a chutney”, I would reply. “We grow our own chutney, you know.”
Soon the meal would be over, the guests would pack up and leave and we would sit there looking at the dirty dishes and linens that need to be changed and rooms that need to be cleaned and toilets that need to be scrubbed to get ready for tonight’s guests.
Well, I’ll be damned if I’m going to wait on these people hand and foot. Just who do they think they are? To hell with them.
Maybe I need to put a little more thought into this whole retirement thing. I’ve got to go to Walgreen’s to get batteries for the remote (a four pack of AA batteries is only $1.37 with a coupon) and then maybe I’ll head on over to the library and pick up a book about running a vineyard.