Saturday, September 10, 2011

Retirement Transitions - Charm School

There’s been a spate of commercials lately for Barbie’s Princess Charm School. My immediate reaction was concern for the future of feminism. Have we regressed to where little girls have a life goal to become a princess?

My thoughts moved on to charm school topics, so I decided to create Retirees’ Charm School to make you so irresistible, you’ll get invited to more events than a Barbie princess.

1.     POSTURE.

By the time we retire, we’re inclined to… well, actually, we’re simply inclined—bent over, that is. A stooped posture makes you look older. Walking with books on your head is still the best exercise for good posture. Collect several months’ of AARP magazines for this. They’ll bend slightly, shaping to your head’s contour, making them easier to balance.


Retirees eat more meals at home than those still working, and we tend to forget about table manners. Then we have our guard down when we do eat out. In addition, our balancing skills deteriorate around retirement. So we raise our plates to our mouths, or bend over so our food is just three inches away. Not charming, and bending over undoes all the good accomplished by walking around with the AARPs on your head.

Pretend that your spoon contains something you wouldn’t want to spill, not even a drop—a fine Barolo wine perhaps. Practice carefully raising the spoon to your mouth while maintaining proper AARP posture. It helps to actually fill the spoon with some primo vino.


Retirees are especially subject to telemarketing and robocalls at all hours of the day. Our knee jerk reaction is to snarl some obscenity and hang up. If we’re feeling feisty, we give some clever retort, and then hang up. Neither of these reflects the charm we’re trying to cultivate.

Instead, inhale deeply, exhale deeply. Count to three slowly. Inhale again, exhale again. Listen for about thirty seconds. (That includes the time you’ve been inhaling and exhaling.) Then say in your most charming voice, “You’ve made some excellent points. Unfortunately, I’m a retiree on very limited income. My time is also limited, since the only way I can make ends meet is to (insert your favorite explanation here.)” Say a polite goodbye and hang up.

Here are some sample explanations. I have to:
·      Crochet toilet paper covers for the church bazaar.
·      Stuff envelopes for the Senior Center charity drive.
·      Shred Medicare paperwork for everyone in my exercise class.


This is very similar to phone etiquette, except that you’ll be face to face with someone at your front door. It’s therefore important to focus on your posture and your facial expression. Be sure to stand tall, so the visitor doesn’t think she can bully you. Smile, but not too enthusiastically. Follow the phone etiquette steps, but as part of your polite goodbye, include “and I really must be getting back to that project now,” as you gently close the door.


Retirees find themselves able to take advantage of more senior citizens discount days. As a new retiree, you may be offended that no one asks to see your ID. This makes you feel old and cranky and anything but charming. Do not give in to these emotions.

Clerks are used to having people who are not yet seniors claim they are, to get our well-earned discounts. They usually let it slide rather than cause a confrontation. If you look young, the clerk probably just thinks you’re a deadbeat. Take it as a compliment and move on. Think back to when you turned 21. You hated having to prove you were old enough to buy a beer. This is simply those chickens coming home to roost.


What you wear impacts your charm quotient. As a retiree, your clothing budget is limited. This won’t matter if you follow these guidelines.
·      Outfits that are charming on pre-teens are eccentric on people over 60.
·      Never wear plaid with other plaids. Never wear plaid with floral prints. Come to think of it, just never wear plaid.
·      If we can tell it has spandex, you probably should not be wearing it.
·      Clip on suspenders are not charming. Get a belt, and not one that leaves 12” hanging.
·      If your cords have worn to a shine over your butt, get a new pair.
·      God did not intend for us to wear socks with sandals. If your feet are cold even in July, wear shoes.
I could do an entire post on attire, but you get the idea.

Follow these steps and you can charm your way out of trouble and into the best social circles in your neighborhood. I’ll bet my plaid spandex jumpsuit on it.

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