From one geezer to another

Recently this column had a piece on the economics of social security and how this looming crisis affected the retired ''old geezers'' on the bench outside of the Arcade Quick Lunch. When we used the term ''geezer'' we unwittingly stepped into the line of fire from the shuffleboard court.

Since we count ourself as being a member of the old geezers of America we were surprised at the stormy objection to such a lovable term. We are now in more hot water than a backyard Jacuzzi.

Geezer, as dictionaries define it, is either a ''person in disguise'' or ''an eccentric.''

These terms may not fit everybody in the golden, or copper-pyrite, years, but they get a laugh over at the Mobile Home Park. The problem is, the whole category of retired persons, if it exists at all, is a stereotype. There is no typical retired person in spite of all the fatuous articles written by young authorities.

It has been our experience to find many - what shall we say? - ''senior citizens'' fit both definitions of geezer at least one day out of the week. There are some who work part time, or all the time, and some who do not. Some simply have a lot of fun doing things they never had time to do before. And, there are some, alas, who are very stoic and grim about what has been allotted to them by what we waggishly call society.

One ''senior citizen'' who had been a manager in an accounting firm, is now a ''bag man'' in a supermarket three days a week. He needs the money, naturally. Expenses go up, while his income is fixed.

He fits both definitions of geezer. His orange slacks and flamingo shirt are a kind of disguise from his former gray-suit-and-tie uniform. His floppy hat, pinned full of fishing lures, makes him a bit eccentric. Except on weekends, when he is actually catching fish.

In our days as cartoonist we had our nose punched once in a while. Now we admire what is left of it and would like to keep it intact. So we hereby make a sweeping apology to all the nongeezers of America.

We know there are a lot of whatcha-macallums out there who do not play checkers and shuffleboard, pick up shells, sit on benches (provided by banks, drugstores, and restaurants), or go to church in shorts. Just the same, a better term than geezer has not yet occurred to us.

But we're working on it.

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