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SIXTY @ SIXTY IN THREE PARTS

SAM_00371. Know your roots. Remember where you came from.

Turning 60 means you’ve met lots of people.

You’ve had time to meet people; if you haven’t, get started.

More than once you’ve had someone give this answer when asked, “Where are you from?”

“Lot’s of places.”

If you’ve given that answer it’s time to stop. You know where you’re from and it’s not ‘lots of places.’

That answer sounds like you’re ashamed of where you come from.

Not need for shame, my brothers and sisters. Where you’re from isn’t your fault.

My dad was born in a logging company town. His own dad bought farm land and moved a few miles away but the school was still in Ryderwood, Washington.

I asked the old man which was a tougher town, his place or mine, North Bend, Oregon.

He gave a moment’s thought, then, “North Bend is tougher. We only had loggers fighting loggers.

“North Bend has loggers, mill guys, fisherman, and longshoremen.

“The mix created a natural animosity. And you had Coos Bay right next door. There was always a chance for a flare-up.”

What I didn’t ask was why he didn’t raise his family in a calmer place.

By sixty you ought to know you can find trouble anywhere if that’s what you want.

The next time you’re asked where you’re from, keep the conversation moving and give a town’s name. Avoid anything like, ‘the west coast.”

You’d be surprised how many Oregonians know their geography. Not everyone knows where Oregon is but we have a pretty good idea how the rest of the world fits together.

If all else fails and you don’t want to tag yourself as a small town hick from the sticks, when someone asks where you’re from just say, “Right here,” no matter where you are.

If a wise guy starts grilling you you, say, “Did you ask where I’m from, or where I am? I’m confused.”

You can play the confused card at sixty, just don’t make it a default response.

2. Know who you are.

What’s your answer to, “What do you do?”

There’s two answers. One is your job, the other is up to you and you can be as vague or specific as you want.

If you’re retired you can either tell about your career or what you do now.

Do you paint? Garden? Then you’re an artist or a farmer.

You’re a stock broker? Call it financial consultant.

If you drive a bus, you’re a driver.

The questioner might think NASCAR and that’s okay.

A better answer is describing your passion.

“I’m a mountain climber.”

“I’m a whitewater rafter.”

When you do this, follow up quickly to block more questions. Report on the mountains you’ve climbed, the mountains you’re going to climb. Name the rivers you’ve rafted.

Everyone likes an adventurer.

If you feel compelled to tell the truth, Ed Norton, but ‘sewer worker’ doesn’t carry the cache you like, say you work for the city.

Keep in mind that people asking what you do are trolling.

They may have a product, a cause, or inside information just for you.

It’s called networking cloaked in good manners.

At sixty good manners are expected, so be nice.

3. Be true to your partner.

If a Portland baby boomer asks, “Are you married?” or “Are you still married?” it’s usually not an invite to join them at a swingers’ club.

It’s a yes or no question. Anything more is a hedge that tells the questioner you like to flirt…or cheat.

If you like to flirt or cheat, say, “I’m not as married as I used to be. I was married at the beginning, now I’m not so sure. It’s more of a business deal. We don’t talk or even see each other. I wouldn’t call it an open marriage. They might but I don’t.

“I mean, they could be going out on me and I don’t know. Should I check their smart phone and facebook? Have a detective follow them and take pictures? Not my style.

“Am I married? Do I sound married to you?”

That answer doesn’t come from a married person dedicated to their spouse. It’s either a cruiser answer from someone more available than expected, or the answer someone gives so they can go home and tell their husband/wife, “I’ve still got it.”

If you’re married and want to stay married, keep it simple: “Yes, I’m married. Thanks for asking.”

Never ask someone if they’re married, or still married. It’s a slippery slope leading to:

“Would you like to get a drink?”

and,

“Isn’t it hard being married today?”

and,

“You know, this might be a mistake, but I think we’d be good together.”

You’re probably wrong.

You can’t change you’re age, but you can live up to it.

Be who you are and be happy. It’s not asking too much.

 

About David Gillaspie
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