“When I retire, I am going to …”
And then my still-working friend’s eyes drift up to the clouds as he/she reflects on their plans for the rest of their life unencumbered by the time clock, uncooperative colleagues, oh, and don’t forget the boss and “them,” those mysterious residents at the system office who create superfluous rules and make the worker bee’s life absolutely miserable.
The colleague outlines a whole list of meaningful post-employment activity they will conduct once the boss hands them that prized golden watch, travel to the places they have never seen, visits to people they haven’t seen in ages, the project they have always wanted to start.
My immediate retirement goals were a little less grandiose, especially as I got closer to the “final” day and grasped the startling fact that, two weeks later, those paychecks I had come to rely on would end.
Yes, as difficult as it seems, in addition to those retirement dreams, you must factor in retirement income, too.
About my goals, I had three of them. First, plan my wedding. Second, find retirement activity that would be fun and supply some income. And third, read the Perry Mason mysteries.
I know, not exactly earth shattering but achievable.
I conquered the first two in my first three months of retirement. The wedding went off with barely a hitch mainly because Al and Susie at Italiano’s made the occasion so effortless.
The second was equally easy because Cynthia Calvert Shiflet, owner of The Tribune, asked me to come write for her. What a blessing, and talk about ending where you started. I started my career right out of college writing for the newspaper in Lincoln. Here I am, decades later, at The Trib writing about all kinds of people and events — and getting paid for it.
As for my third goal, I’ve made it to book number six, “The Case of the Counterfeit Eye.” Unfortunately, Perry Mason’s creator, Earle Stanley Garner, was prolific. He wrote 82 of them. I was never strong in math, but I figure I have 76 to go, if you don’t count the one I am reading.
That has been one of my joys of retirement. Reading, I mean. I spent 40 years dutifully perusing the boss’s latest favorite management book — “Who Moved My Cheese,” “What Color Is Your Parachute,” “The Making of a Manager.” I’ve still got most of them molding away in a box in our storage unit.
Now I am reading for fun — mystery and history.
And, when I saw Jake Tapper, the CNN journalist, interviewed about his new mystery, he teased me enough that I just had to read it. It is called “The Devil May Dance,” and if you are a boomer or a youngster interested in the 1960s, you will find it fascinating, too.
The first paragraph just draws you in, “Frank Sinatra handed the congressman the bottle of Jack Daniel’s.”
The first page brings in Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Shirley MacLaine. They are at Forest Lawn Memorial Park — the world-famous cemetery for the notable — depressed over the death of their friend, the mobster Lucky Luciano.
The story gets better and better. I didn’t even mention that the real heroes are Charlie and Margaret Marder. He is a congressperson. They have been, well, hired, to find out how close Sinatra is to the mob. I mean, Frank is best friends with the guy in the White House and, well, you will just have to read the book.
It is a quick, fun read. Almost believable. Tapper is quite the storyteller, I read it on our 20-hour trip back from western Nebraska and, with all of Tapper’s name-dropping, I probably could enjoy it again.
I followed up Tapper’s book with, “The Black Hand” by Stephan Talty, a real-life story about The Black Hand, immigrant Sicilian and Italian gangsters in 1900, the precursor to the Mafia.
It caught my eye when I was scanning the $5 book section at Barnes and Noble in Humble. How can you not read about a 1900 crime wave, kidnapping children, bombs, extortion, how much the Irish and Italian immigrants hated each other — and it is all true.
I’ve next selected an actual romance novel. I’ve never read a romance novel before — although I have watched numerous Hallmark movies and, after all that murder and mayhem, I am looking forward to “their attraction reaches the tipping point ...,” “their eyes locked in passion …” and “the inevitable kiss ...”
At least that is what the teaser on the inside cover tells me.