Essays on memoir, music, and more from Beatrice M. Hogg

Dear AARP The Magazine:

BMH for AARPI received your latest issue today, and I just woke up from looking through it. BORING! First of all, it had Bob Dylan on the cover and I can’t stand Bob Dylan. He writes good songs, but his voice affects me the same way as fingernails on a chalkboard. (Do they even have chalkboards any more?) He may be the voice of a generation, but since he is fifteen years older than me, I don’t consider myself a part of that generation. Personally, I was twelve when Woodstock happened, and I had a nine o’clock bedtime, not exactly conducive to three days of peace, love and music. Why don’t you put someone cute like Kip Winger on the cover? On the back cover is an ad for Raisin Bran. Not all people over fifty eat cold cereal and milk for breakfast. (I wonder if Kip Winger does?)

I guess that “RP” now stands for “Real Possibilities,” instead of “Retired Persons.” To that I say, “Really, people?” As I flip through the magazine, I look at the ads. Almost everyone in the ads has gray hair. Not all people over fifty have gray hair, including the aforementioned seventy-three-year old singer on the cover. My hair isn’t gray and I don’t dye it either. But millions of people do dye their hair because they don’t like gray hair for whatever reason. And many of these people actually look good with their hair color of choice. When I do decide to dye my hair, I will probably dye it bright purple, but that just happens to be my personal preference.

A lot of the ads show people with young children that are obviously supposed to be representing grandchildren. I do not have kids or grandkids, which I had to make clear in a strongly worded letter to Journeys. Just because a person is looking at a backpack with kittens on it does not mean that they are “looking for backpacks for their grandchildren.” I happen to like backpacks. And kittens. I have no desire to ever ride in a teacup at DisneyWorld – an activity probably even worse than a Bob Dylan concert. If I ever rent a car from Avis, it better be a convertible and I won’t be renting it to play in the sand with some little kids. Just saying…

Now, I understand that you are a nonprofit organization and that you are very particular about who advertises in your pages, but couldn’t you liven it up a little? How about some fun ads from some of the places and products offering AARP discounts? What about Ticketmaster? If AARP really wanted to help me out, they would help me score some prime tickets for the upcoming Rush tour. (Neil Peart on the cover – there’s a suggestion.) How about a cool Zipcar ad? I just found out about that discount – one that I actually plan to use. Show a stylish, sexy couple taking British Airways to London for a vacation of a lifetime. Now, I understand that you have to include ads for medications and ads for various insurances (I guess the three letters that AARP sends me each week aren’t enough), but couldn’t you mix it up?

I’m sure that some of your articles are actually interesting, but in the eight years of being a member, I can’t remember even one of them. Maybe it’s the font. Whatever it is, it makes your magazine even more boring than an automobile club magazine and the magazine I get from my alma mater. And believe me, I know boring – I used to edit a newsletter for social workers. 32 pages of boring each month and four years of my life that I will never get back. But in your latest issue, I did learn that the Rolling Stones were older than the Supreme Court, but not older than the cast of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. But I think if Bill Wyman had been included, the Stones would have won. Enough about Bill Wyman.

Maybe I’m just pissed off that for years you have ignored my request to have metal bands at your annual convention thingy. Why not Slayer? You can’t afford Robert Plant? (Jimmy Page on the cover – he has gray hair, so that should make you guys happy.) I think I might have actually read something about the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in your magazine once. (I actually do remember an article – my bad.) Sammy Hagar does that a lot – he would be great for your annual thingy. Or maybe Jon Bon Jovi instead of Jon Secada. You need to realize that all of the eighties rocker guys are now in their fifties and early sixties, even though they don’t have gray hair and probably don’t ride the teacups at DisneyWorld, even if they have children and grandchildren that they are aware of. And not all hard rock artists are men – what about Lita Ford? (Put her on the cover – I can interview her for you.)

Well, that’s all for now. I like the fancy new AARP cards, but I’m not happy that I didn’t win anything in the AARP photo contest. I think my photo was nicer than a lot of the ones that won, even though my devil horns were backward – but that is just my opinion. I will continue to be a member, but I just wish that the Real Possibilities that you are considering would include the real possibility of making your magazine more interesting to those of us closer to fifty than to ninety – those of us who grew up in the seventies, not the forties, fifties or sixties. And if you could pull some strings – some Rush tickets would be nice. And a job.


Beatrice (58, still wearing Doc Martens, skull earrings, and listening to loud guitars)
Sacramento, CA


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