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Nov. 26, 2020 | Thursday
Editorials and Opinions
Retirement Coach: A phrase book for your retirement years
Retirement Coach with Mike Keenan

Mike Keenan

Speclai to The Lake Report

Groups have long employed jargon as a kind of practical shorthand, utilizing meaningless words to others. For example, the medical field includes scientific terms and abbreviations. “BP” means blood pressure, “FX” is a bone fracture, “JT” a joint.

Retirees are no different. To interact effectively with fellow retirees, you must walk the walk and talk the talk. The following glossary of terms will assist one in this arduous task, key words and phrases deciphered for you:

“Abandon all hope ye who enter here” – Erudite seniors recognize this forlorn expression first discovered in the labyrinth of legal text involved in Walmart’s Employee Assistance Program. Dante’s Divine Comedy may have been the inspiration for Walmart executives, who describe a typical Saturday afternoon in a Walmart store as akin to walking through the Inferno or Hell.

“Abject poverty” – Often confused with a lack of ethical political standards under the reign of Donald Trump, it describes the unpleasant living conditions of millions of his constituents, given to sleeping outdoors, using food stamps (soon to be eradicated) and a lack of ready access to excessive democratic perks such as food, drink and adequate health care.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” –  This phrase is often employed to describe the plight of retirees and men and women separated for long periods of time, for example truck drivers, sailors and prison inmates. It gave rise to the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind,” which leads to “when the cat’s away, the mice will play,” indicating a tendency to seek temporary ad hoc pleasure in distant truck stops, ports and penitentiaries.

“Accentuate the positive” – Lyrics to a 1944 tune by Johnny Mercer, which medical experts try to extrapolate for seniors to encourage better health practice. The trick is positive spin such that men begin to brag about the number of times that they urinate throughout the night and boast about how much their asses have shrunk over the years. Women enjoy the same quantitative urinary assertions but advocate spread rather than shrinkage for their corresponding physical layout.

“Achilles’ heel” – Not to be confused with the tendon, which is a painful injury, the Achilles’ heel indicates a weakness. For retirees, the flaw is carbohydrates and involves those who hang out at Tim Hortons each morning, eating far too many doughnuts, an unhealthy practice.

“Accident waiting to happen” – Refers to diverse potentially dangerous situations such as harsh weather conditions involving ice on the driveway or seniors who drive large SUVs with dented bumpers and grills, who quickly roll into crowded parking lots without slowing down.

“Add insult to injury” – This is comparable to a double-minor penalty in hockey for retirees, as in two minutes for being hard of hearing and two minutes for hardness of arteries. Caution, a game misconduct is to be avoided at all costs.

“After all is said and done” – Retirees like to employ this phrase to produce a dramatic conclusion to the same old story that they told you yesterday and the day before. For variety, they might also use “at the end of the day” or “the bottom line.”

“Albatross around one’s neck” – Used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden, it’s an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Coleridge toyed with “pig in a poke,” but a bird, not a pig, was more likely to fly beside a ship. Retirees often use the term to describe decades of marriage or in some unfortunate cases, much shorter terms.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – Retirees eagerly replace Jack with their own name to explain and rationalize their penchant for watching far too much daily TV, especially the soaps, Jeopardy! (to keep their minds quick) and, of course, every athletic event known to man.

“At a snail’s pace” – This is the perceived speed limit for retirees when driving around town and even on the highway because if anything, retirees are not in a hurry. They believe that life is a journey, albeit an extremely slow journey and not really a destination. Hence, for retirees, it’s all about the going, a Zen-like outlook comparable to “one hand clapping.”

“All dressed up and no place to go” – Describes typical retirees’ fashion attire, comfortably outfitted in loose-fitting pajamas, white, elastic sport socks, food-stained T-shirts and weathered baseball caps deliberately not worn backward like a silly teenager.

We will decipher more retired jargon in the future.

Mike Keenan belongs to the NOTL Writers’ Circle. Follow his podcasts: The Retirement Coach: http://theretirementcoach.libsyn.com/ and Travel: http://whattravelwriterssay.libsyn.com/. His book, Don’t Ever Quit ‒ a Journal of Coping with Crisis & Nourishing Spirit, is available in in print & electronic format at Amazon.

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