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by Kerry Peresta  
7/16/2009 / Politics

I have never been a big fan of AARP. For one thing, who wants to embrace the harsh reality that one is entering the autumn season of life? Two full years before my 50th birthday I received multiple garish and demanding requests for membership in my mailbox. I took great satisfaction in holding these aloft, proclaiming to the envelope "Not yet!" and ripping the offending document into pieces.

They pursued me relentlessly over the next couple of years.

They disguised their envelopes as a Publisher's Clearing House piece, they stamped URGENT in red all over the front of an envelope; they proclaimed LAST CHANCE on at least ten consecutive pieces. In a last gasp attempt, after their monitoring systems told them I was still a holdout after 353 pieces of direct mail, I received a cream-colored envelope with sedate, handwritten script and no return address. I squint at the envelope and hold it at arm's length all the way into my house, and lay it carefully on the breakfast bar. Do I trash it? What if it is an invitation to the Governor's annual prayer breakfast? Or a notification I'd been named Poet Laureate of the Year? I left it there while I did a few chores, and fantasized about what it might be, all the while thinking that it is probably a cleverly disguised promotional offer. Finally I pulled the envelope flap open a millimeter at a time. Interestingly, when a piece of mail appears to be a private invitation, I cannot seem to rip into it. What am I going to do, save the envelope?

Imagine my disgust when I retrieve yet another membership demand (YOU'RE 50 NOW YOU IDIOT, WHY HAVEN'T YOU JOINED THE 150 MILLION OTHER OLD FOGIES THAT SUBSCRIBE?) in the lovely cream envelope adorned with perfectly fake penmanship. My response was "AAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGHHH," or something equally primal, and I ripped it to shreds. I realize I am over-reacting, but seriously, can't this organization take no for an answer?

When I actually did turn 50, they re-upped their campaign to solicit me. By this time, I have done a little research and find that AARP has an extremely active lobbying arm, and is pro-tax, pro-as-much-government-as-possible, in fact are one of the most liberal lobbying groups in the country, and boast over 33 million members. The unsuspecting members-to-be are lured in with promises of discounts on hotel rooms, rental cars, airline tickets, restaurants and insurance, oblivious to AARP's political agenda. The innocuous offerings on the AARP Magazine spout all manner of self-help topics for the aging. If one reads between the lines, however, one experiences the faint stirrings of editorial re-education featuring one-world government, taxation on everything that moves, international currency and itty-bitty 'green' cars. I think Bill and Hillary, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are secretly on their Board of Directors.

Unfortunately, their magazine now shows up at my house like clockwork. My husband, panting over the discounts, signed up at the first available opportunity. Here are some of the topics that I scanned in a recent publication: Exercises You Can Perform From the Sickbed. Memory Tricks That Really Work. How to Protect Yourself with Your Walking Stick. The Last Goodbye. Brain Defoggers. Can a magazine be any more depressing?

I won't join. I don't need to know how to protect myself with a walking stick and I won't help finance their political agenda. I hope the Obama administration doesn't make AARP membership mandatory.

Kerry Peresta is a career advertising professional with experience in copywriting, account management, design, media buying and sales. She has been employed by advertising agencies, television and radio stations and major newspapers. Read more of her material at

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