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AARP Bulletin

11 Things You Should Never Do Again After 50

Author Jacquelyn Mitchard considers her limits after a half-century of experiences


En español | According to Webster’s, the sport involves “traversing environmental obstacles by running, climbing or leaping rapidly and efficiently.” Still game? Then consider this: You may have to swing, vault, roll and walk on your hands and feet. You can watch this on YouTube without hurting yourself.

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Jell-O Shots

Face it. By your age you should know better than to subject yourself to the extreme embarrassment (and brain cell loss) of getting so drunk that you fall down. Don’t imitate today’s twentysomethings; they’ll probably grow out of it.

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Karaoke After Jell-O Shots

So … you tried the Jell-O shots? Then you’re probably more anxious to try karaoke than you would have been while sober. Go for it. Friends will drive you home. If your children witness it, they may not want to speak with you for a while — possibly an advantage depending on your perspective.

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Trying to Break a Plank With Your Head

Your grandchildren may have advanced far enough in martial arts — typically karate or tae kwon do — to pull this one off. But unless you’re sporting a black belt, you can avoid a concussion or worse by sticking to yoga.

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Crowd Surfing

Here’s how to do this. Go to a rock concert and wear soft shoes and no jewelry, zippers or studs (which can get caught in people’s hair). Give your wallet and phone to someone you trust, and climb up on the stage. Make sure the people you’re going to jump on have their hands raised to catch you. Dive. Try to stay on your back with your head up as you’re passed around — and keep flailing to a minimum. I don’t have to make the case against this one, right?

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Collecting Owls Made of Shells

Accumulating ceramic frogs or shell owls may seem more age-appropriate than crowd surfing. However, if you’re over 50 and inclined to collect such items, every flat surface in your home is probably already decorated. Since nothing says “oldster” more eloquently than a cluster of dustables, consider having a yard sale and starting over with some flamingos.

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Boasting About Certain Things

It’s considered tasteless to convey excitement in public about the number of stamps in your passport, zeroes in your paycheck, capital letters that accompany your name (unless they’re H.R.H.), the number of people you could have married, the size of your acreage … or the size of your anything else.

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Explaining Your Personal Role in Bringing Your Kids Up Right

If you think your children “never really got into any of that stuff,” you’re probably wrong. Chances are the kids will never tell you about “that stuff,” but sometimes ignorance is bliss! Avoid making proud claims about your parenting that could be proven wrong.

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Explaining Your Personal Role in Getting Your Kid Into an Ivy League College

You may very well have made it happen, but stop before you brag. Although other fiftysomethings might be impressed, soon they will be asking about your financial situation. (See “Boasting About Certain Things.”)

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Explaining Your Personal Role in Fueling the Rumor That Paul Was Dead

Actually, this may be OK. You can amuse younger folks by relating how, in the 1960s, you pushed Beatles albums the wrong way on the turntable with the needle down on the vinyl to listen for clues. And take heart! Millennial hipsters love vinyl and record players. You’ve lived long enough to be groovy again!

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Single-Spacing Your Holiday Letter

If your yearning to update everyone on your personal role in bringing your kids up right (and getting them into Ivy League colleges) has you considering a smaller font or a bigger page, see previous advice. Then settle for a handwritten greeting on a simple card.

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There are things I did at 16 so excruciatingly embarrassing in retrospect that just thinking about them makes me cringe. George Orwell said that at 50, everyone has the face he deserves. I’m not sure that’s true. Still, we must all do what we can to avoid doing what we must not.

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