Fifty Ways To Tell You're 50

generic birthday cake for 50 fifty fiftieth
It used to be you were considered middle-aged when you were 40 years old. That is, after all, halfway to 80.

But baby boomers refuse to be old and have redefined middle age as 60 to 75. Which is, of course, halfway to 120 to 150.

For a lot of us, the biggest milepost is 50. I took it so hard, I wrote a book about it, which contains this helpful list of 50 ways to tell you're 50. (The book is titled The Big Five-Oh! Fearing, Facing, and Fighting Fifty.)

The first is that you carry a membership card in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). See, you don't just turn 50. You are officially notified that you are now officially old enough to be in the AARP. With draft notices no longer being sent and the Unabomber in custody, the AARP card is the worst thing you can get in the mail.

All your mail changes. I started getting brochures from the Garden of Memories Mausoleum and Cemetery, offering 30 percent off if you act now.

When you're 50, you test drive a Cadillac.

And one of the first big signs you're approaching 50 is that you have to double pump to get out of a car.

When you're 50, you make grunting sounds putting on your socks.

You buy relaxed-fit jeans.

You occasionally find that you have to put an extra hole in your belt.

You take your pants in to the tailor to be let out on the first of every month. Even if it's only half an inch, that's 30 inches in five years.

Face it. You need exercise. But you drop games where you and the ball move, and take up games that feature carts and cocktails (like golf).

We do own a treadmill. I customized it with the Pop Tart attachment.

At restaurants, you can't read the menu (your eyes are shot), can't hear the specials (your ears are going), and couldn't remember them even if you could hear them in the first place.

Your memory's shot. You mistakenly go to movies you've already seen, but it doesn't matter anymore. It's just as good, just as fresh and new, the second or third time

It's called short-term memory loss syndrome. Another name is
CRS: Can't Remember...Stuff.

It takes you three tries to call your own kids their correct names. You have elderly children. And you begin to lie not only about your age, but about theirs as well.

You see a withered old codger on the street, and you realize he was one year ahead of you in high school.

You may experience the onset of grumpiness. You start yelling: "Get off my lawn, you little bleep!" And you tell the Starbucks clerk to cut the half caf-half decaf double-mocha latte claptrap and give you a damned cup of coffee!

You've never heard of the Grammy winners. You can't keep up because you don't know how to open CDs.

You might drop the Playboy Channel and pick up the Food Network. You are only aroued by buffets.

You fall asleep at parties rather than passing out.

Switch from drinks with names like Sex on the Beach to Ensure and vodka with a prune garnish.

Sex after 50 is the shortest chapter in the book. By all means, continue to enjoy sex. But please: only with a registered nurse.

You've reached an age where, on your birthday, you have to put some of the candles on the sides of the cake.

Welcome to middle age.