Retirement planning.

I’m not retiring anytime soon. As an adjunct college instructor and fiction writer, I might never be able to retire. Living past age 90 is common in my family, so I may be grading undergraduate essays, tutoring, dog walking, and writing reviews of local delis and middle school plays for the next 50 years. But if the day comes when I can put away my red pen and ignore the queries for someone to walk Rover or help Junior with his grammar, I’ll be ready. I’m in my early 40s, but I’ve been a retiree-in-training for about two years and have racked up gold stars in golden years living. I’m fierce and I’m kicking ass.

I leave the Water Whackies in my wake. Every Wednesday morning, I join the Water Whackies for an hour-long aqua aerobics class at the community pool. That’s right: my classmates call themselves the Water Whackies. Retirees tend to have a healthy sense of humor and the Water Whackies are mostly retirees. Who else is available for aqua aerobics at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning? Oh, that’s right: me.

I might share the pool’s shallow end with skirted ladies and bosomed gentlemen, but I stand out in my electric-blue racing Speedo. And who’s the only one who can keep up with the instructor? That’s right, this girl. Oh, and I’m the only one to whom my classmates refer as “girl.”

Everybody knows my name at the retirement home. I’m popular with everybody in my parents’ building: from the front desk attendant to the president of the Bingo club, from the ladies who gossip in the community room to the home health aides gathered in the laundry room. So what if it’s because I’m a break from the routine of waiting for the mailman or the high school kids who deliver the prescriptions from Newport Pharmacy. I’m a superstar the moment I walk through the doors and leave behind the plebeian world; I’m no longer “ma’am,” “uh, honey,” “Professor Booth,” “the main holder of the account” nor “Number 213.” I become sweetie, miss, or something I rarely hear, Nancy.

Gettin’ it fresh and getting’ it cheap. The coffee and muffins are fresher during the morning special at ShopRite. Movies are cheaper and theaters emptier before 11:00 a.m. Those who frequent these discounts might be cranky and fusty and give me the hairy eyeball like I’m some whippersnapper interloper, but I’m faster in my sneakers than they are in their Velcro-closure orthopedic shoes: I’m first in line for those coffee, pastries, tickets, and bathroom stalls.

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