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Not Your Father's Retirement

Turning 65 today is different than it used to be: Baby boomers refuse to grow old!

In fact, five, if you add in that our parents never attended writing workshops to learn how to "journal." The quintessential difference, of course, is that boomers have never accepted the idea that advancing age forces one to alter one's lifestyle. You're only as old as you feel, the saying goes, and boomers still feel 25. When they're 90, they'll still feel 25.

No matter how old they get, and no matter how harshly Father Time works his cruel magic, boomers will always act like it is still the day the Stones released "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

The second profound generational difference is that boomers are better prepared psychologically to do what they want in their golden years. Previous generations of Americans only went to Tuscany to fight Germans.

Boomers go there to see if the osso buco can possibly live up to the rave reviews they have heard. Boomers, who grew up backpacking across Morocco, are also better prepared to deal with the rigors of travel at an advanced age.

It helps that knee-replacement technology has advanced so much in recent years; a generation ago, when your hips and knees went, you were down for the count. Today you get yourself a new set of knees and walk straight up the Eiffel Tower.

Here are some other major differences between 65-year-olds then and 65-year-olds now. Today's retirees are more likely to be vegetarians. They are more likely to visit Macchu Pichu. They are more likely to eat raw garlic. They are more likely to have read Albert Camus. They are more likely to listen to music their kids like, as long as it's not Eminem. They are more likely to be able to say "Thanks for the extra towels" in Spanish.

On the negative side, they are less likely to embrace the joys of grandparenthood; being called gramps and granny is not what they envisioned the last time they saw Iggy and the Stooges.

They are also less likely to think of themselves as seniors. And they are less likely to stop playing contact sports after their third knee operation. Boomers also bike a lot more than their parents at a comparable age. Our parents didn't go in for Pilates, yoga, that sort of thing.

And our parents didn't spin. This is the one thing I really admired about my parents: No matter how fat and out-of-shape they got, they weren't going to make fools of themselves in spinning classes. Actually, I also admired them for whipping the Nazis and inventing Medicare and building this fabulous economy.

But my God, did they have to use so much linoleum?

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