Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

The Golden Years



The graying of America is plum crazy. Millions of people about to retire are dusting off youthful fantasies. People I know have told me that they are going mobile in an Airstream, buying sand castles with money they don't have, or are planning to move into compounds with all their friends they haven't seen in years. Others are dusting off abandoned inventions and unfinished visionary epics. I'm all for it, because I never stopped doing all those things, so I'll make a dandy living in the future telling folks just how such things work. Going nomad in an Airstream and stopping over to see all one's relatives is a marvelous way to mooch your way unto the next life. Buying pied-a-terres in lovely cities basking in sunshine and history is also great, especially if you don't have any money. Money is no object then. Honey, I said, let's get that penthouse in New York, what's six mil? After I bought that, I picked up a modest bungalow in St. Petersburg, Fla., with an ocean view, a steal at one-point-six. I then headed for San Francisco, where I plunked down four mil on a "workingman Victorian" in pretty good shape. I also bought a Virginia horse farm for ten mil and, just for fun, a three-bedroom cliff dwelling in the Pyrenees for eight million euros, that's about 10 million dollars. Then my private jet crashed and I woke up. No, not really, there is nothing wrong with the jet, I'm just pointing out how much fun I've had owning everything I want with no money at all. Building a compound with cabins for all your dearest and nearest is also pretty good, especially if you can farm the land with non-polluting hand-carved tools which, as everyone knows, is a cinch after 50 years of pushing paper around a cubicle. But the best thing of all for the golden years (who named them that?) is to go forward with the inventions and the epic novels. There is a great deal of glory in that, and just working at those things every day will make you feel marvelous and will keep you out from under everybody's feet. Your hair may be gray or nonexistent, but the gray matter below is squirming like a sack full of newts. Excuse me, I have to take a call from Miramax. They're making four of my movies right now.

Wakefield, Andrei Codrescu's new novel, is available in bookstores or signed by the author for $25+$5, at Andrei Codrescu, P.O. Box 25051, Baton Rouge, LA, 70894.

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