By Lynn Ashby 25 May 2015
So you are in the bottom of the eighth inning, or maybe the top of the ninth, in life, and are looking for a dugout to live in during your golden years, if you didn’t invest in Sandals of Syria. You are either self-employed as a pediatric philosopher or retired from your job managing the Twin Peaks in Waco, either way you can live anywhere in the U.S. But where? San Diego or Miami Beach? Aspen or Prescott? Maybe stay in Texas. The Hill Country is nice, so is South Padre. A beach-front mansion in Kemah so you will be close to your 130-foot yacht. Buy a high-rise condo in Dallas or Houston and sit on your balcony sipping a martini while watching all the wage slaves below trying to fight the traffic in the afternoon rush hour – or the morning rush hour if you’re an early drinker.
Wrong. Senior citizens should try Downtown Crossing in Boston and neighborhoods in San Francisco; La Crosse, Wis.; downtown Sioux Falls, S.D. and certain places in Minnesota, North Dakota, Seattle and Los Alamos. The AARP Bulletin, aka the Geezers’ Gazette, polled 4,500 Americans 50 years and older, asking where are the best places to live in their later years. Best neighborhood was Mifflin West, Wis., followed the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Others in the Top 10 were neighborhoods in La Crosse, Wis., Sioux Falls, S.D. and Bismarck, N.D.
Those surveyed were also asked to name the Most Livable Large City as opposed to Best Neighborhoods. San Francisco was first, followed by Boston, Seattle and Milwaukee. Rounding out the Top 10 was Baltimore, I guess between riots. Most Livable Medium Size City? Madison, Wis., St. Paul and Sioux Falls again. Incidentally, with all this political correctness going on – Washington Redskins, your title is an embarrassment to the entire nation — change it to the Chevy Chase Redskins. Shouldn’t Sioux Falls change its name? How about Scalps, South Dakota? The Best Small Livable City is La Crosse. The Top 10 include Duluth, Minn. and Union City, N.J., which may be a lovely town but sounds like good place to film “On the Waterfront.” The Easiest Cities to Get Around include San Francisco, Buffalo and Hoboken.
Notice that there is not a single Texas city named, not even one in the Deep South. This list is heavily dominated by places in the cold and bitter north. Buffalo? It doesn’t thaw until May. Hoboken? Where are Gov. Chris Christie’s orange cones when we need them? And remember, this list provided by AARP only surveyed the 50 and older. How do walkers and canes perform in Bismarck in January? Maybe the bottoms are fitted out with skis or snowshoes.
Its members are reading these lists and preparing to move to their retirement home. “Pack your bags, Martha. Goodbye, Harlingen. Hello, Duluth.” Or maybe: “Honey, it’s too expensive here in Marfa. Let’s move to Manhattan’s Upper West Side where it’s cheaper.” Or this: “Sun and more sun. Don’t you get tired of this 75 degree weather in San Diego? It’s a lovely minus 30 in Milwaukee.” The Cajun comic Justin Wilson observed, “You ever hear of anybody retiring and moving to the north?” Not until AARP gets the word out. Maybe the organization’s officers own real estate in Hoboken. San Francisco, with all that fog and hills you have to climb? Almost all of the cities listed in all population groups have air, but Texas has a different atmosphere, as our children say, “I shot an arrow into the air. It stuck.” Residents in Port Arthur brag that they don’t breathe anything they can’t see.
It is said that in Washington, if you want a friend, get a dog. But the AARP surveys find Washington to be the Best Large City for Making New Friends, especially if you’re a lobbyist for the NRA. In their respective categories, Sioux Falls and Rapid City, are first. Is the editor of the Geezers’ Gazette from South Dakota? Wait! Texas finally broke into the lists. Austin ranks eighth in Making New Friends. It just shows our state’s capital has lobbyists, too. We should be glad that the People’s Republic is considered a good place to meet new friends, but most nights on South Main near the Astrodome you can meet lots of new friends, mostly females.
One final category, Best Cities for Date Night. AARP, you are an organization for old folks. (Or as former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson put it, “Fifty million people looking for cheap airline fares.”) What are you doing pandering to dirty old folks? Why are your readers supposed to be looking for a night out from the nursing home to go swinging with new best friends? If so, then Nashville is the place to go, but Austin comes in at ninth place in the large cities category. (An accompanying photo shows a couple in cowboy hat and boots dancing to a C&W band at the White Horse in Austin. I suppose Date Night in Austin couldn’t include something more sophisticated like a barbeque cook-off.)
And get this: among-medium size cities Abilene, Texas, is the eighth best city in the nation for Date Night. Huh? Sleepy old Abilene out there on the Swinging Staked Plaines? It’s 6 p.m., last call for Ensure at the Oatmeal and Jell-O Dance Hall. “Howdy, I’m Billy Rob Beltbuckle. Yew sure do have a purty face. Want to dance? Don’t mind my Lark. It’s got bumpers and brakes, and speak real loud into my left ear. What? No, I don’t want to belt your face. What I said was – I forgot.”
Clearly the folks at AARP asked the wrong questions to the wrong people. Ask me about the Worst Lists in America. If Buffalo beats out any town in the nation in any category except Best Place to Get a Heart Attack While Shoveling Snow, I want a re-count.
Ashby is aging at firstname.lastname@example.org