Carnett: Retirement means joyfully forgetting time

I've been retired for four years.

On the whole, I like retirement a lot. It has its downsides, however, like not being able to remember what day it is.

Recently my wife, Hedy, and I were having dinner at a Newport Beach restaurant after taking in "The Hunger Games" at the Regency Lido Theater. Hedy, a former schoolteacher, has been retired for 3½ years.

We had a particularly good server that night. When she stopped by our table to collect her gratuity, Hedy said, "Thank you so much, and have a wonderful weekend."

Without giving it a second thought, the server replied, "You have a great weekend too."

I shook my head in amazement.

"Hedy," I said, "it's Monday. Why would you wish her a good weekend when her weekend is a week away?"

As retirees, we're used to weekends that extend from horizon to horizon.

She broke into a sheepish grin.

"It's only Monday, eh?" Hedy responded. "Well, it feels like a Friday, don't you think?"

I usually know the day of the week, but I'm hopeless when it comes to determining the exact day of the month. I consider myself spot-on if I land within two or three days of the actual date — either side.

Perhaps I fail to know the precise date because, well, I have no compelling reason to possess such knowledge. It's May — need I be more explicit than that?

I have a retired friend who asserts that "spring" is to be considered "within the margin of error" this time of year. His system reduces 365 distinct data points into a much more manageable four.

The major benefit of retirement is, of course, that you largely have control of your calendar, even if you struggle to pin down the date.

In retirement, there are no dreaded meetings that offer no chance for escape. No deadlines. No need for crafting pointless written or oral reports. No evaluation interviews, surprise inspections or being called on the carpet. No tedious six-hour plane flights that end at lackluster lodgings.

You're in control!

Of course the one thing that can't be harnessed is medical visits. Seems physician appointments roll around more frequently now than at any previous time in my life. Doctors have become my best friends.

I remember a golden time at about mid-career — perhaps a stretch of a decade or so — when I went to a doctor maybe two or three times, total! That's now my monthly average.

I was a bull, a physical specimen. Sadly, I'm now painfully aware of the fact that my creaky old "bod" is no longer indestructible.

Once a month I go to lunch with a retired buddy. We attended Costa Mesa High School together in the late 1950s and early '60s.

After reminiscing for 15 minutes about girls from our halcyon high school days, we invariably shuffle into a discussion about physical ailments, recent or scheduled procedures, and latest medications.

Since retiring, I've become a voracious reader. I've now read many of the authors and books I had no time to investigate during my career: Hemingway, Tolstoy, Stephen Ambrose, Harrison Salisbury, Bruce Catton, James McPherson and David McCullough, to name a few.

There are weeks when I note that I've read a half-dozen or more titles on the current New York Times' best-seller list.

Hedy and I spend a number of afternoons monthly in the darkened recesses of local cinemas. We're up on the latest Hollywood and foreign fare.

One recent afternoon we attended a screening of "The Three Stooges." The Stooges were a youthful predilection of mine. I loved them. My 13-year-old grandson became a Stooges fan after Hedy and I gave him (much to our daughter's chagrin!) several DVDs containing vintage Stooges material.

I half expected theater seats the other day to be filled with pimply adolescents. Instead, rosacea-mottled seniors made up the enthusiastic throng. Between fistfuls of popcorn we cackled our way through the nuttiness.

"Whoo, whoo. Nyuk, nyuk. (Bonk) Ooh!"

Retirement is cool. I'm reliving my youth!

But don't expect me to know what day it is.

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Tuesdays.

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