Pointing out what is wrong nowadays is one of the privileges of aging. Given the current state of things, there is plenty of inspiration on the subject. I’d like to chime in with an observation.

Embarrassment. There isn’t enough of it. The supply is too low; there just isn’t enough to go around. If you don’t believe me, watch or listen to the news. You will hear reporters giggle, laugh and generally make light of the subjects they are covering. Could you imagine Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather giggling in an interview? Of course not, it would be embarrassing.

Politics is a field where the art of embarrassment is almost none existent. We have a huge portion of the nation’s elected officials, from Congress to our own popular governor, who can boil their approach to the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression down to just 3 words: “No new taxes”.

If you can fit your plan onto a bumper sticker, it’s not a plan, it’s a slogan. And if you think you can right the course of the greatest nation on earth or the most wonderful state in that nation with so simple a solution, you should be embarrassed. Imagine an interview with either the democratic or republican Roosevelt. “Well, Mr. President, what is your plan in this crisis?” “No new taxes.” “I’m sorry, Mr. President, perhaps I didn’t make my question clear. Do you have a plan?” Embarrassing!

Have you ever listened to a sports superstar complaining that $100,000,000 isn’t enough? Or the argument that people getting $10,000 a day won’t be motivated to work if they get a penny less? But increasing the income for the lowest wage earners will cost jobs and destroy the economy. How can people talk like this and not blush?

Whether it’s guys with pants falling down, young ladies trying to reveal more than they actually have, or grown-ups imitating them, it all seems like fashion wants to take us to a place where our bodies should not go. And that place is embarrassing.

Not all that many years ago, I saw my reflection in a window on Church Street in Burlington. I was wearing a skintight, black t-shirt with a cartoon of an ugly cat gagging on a hairball covering most of my chest. In large white letters below, it said, “Don’t blame me. I voted for Bill the Cat.”

I stared at myself and thought, “I’m not wearing this shirt. It’s wearing me!” It was so embarrassing I couldn’t get home to throw out that shirt fast enough. Now, I don’t wear shirts with cartoons and my shirts fit loose. As much as I wanted to be a fun guy, the fact is after a man hits 50, most people probably don’t find it fun anyway.
Mark Twain said, “Man is the only animal who blushes, or needs to.” Perhaps we need to now more than ever. Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident (and neither does straightening out the world).

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.