Retirement Retirement Age Stories

What am I, chopped liver?

What am I, chopped liver?   By Octo G.Enerio

On the walls in our gym are giant TV screens perpetually tuned to the news channels. It helps ease the tedium of the daily routines and stimulates social banter among my fellow seniors.

As Bernie Sanders’ face is flashed more frequently, on both CNN and Fox, strong opinions fly among the gym rats regarding the septuagenarian Democratic candidate. Because he is becoming a serious contender, I decided to learn more about his background. His ever energetic, impassioned rhetoric seems a little out of place for the obviously old geezer on the screen. His heart attack amidst campaigning and remarkably swift recovery slowed him down not a jot. I wondered what year he was born and how a Vermonter got that Brooklyn accent.  My research not only enlightened me but due to my competitive nature, left me a little disquieted.

Whether or not he makes it to the country’s top spot, he certainly has become notable. If life were a race, he definitely would be one of the frontrunners. Brooklyn accent? I have one too. How come I only ran in the middle of the pack?  He must have been raised in some tony N.Y. suburb, had affluent parents, attended the best prep schools, and gone to some private college like Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Alright, I needed to google him.

Hey, he was born in Brooklyn like I was. Maybe in some affluent section like Brooklyn Heights? No, same as I, he had blue-collar immigrant parents. He went to public high school and attended Brooklyn College, my own alma mater—and at the same time. Both of us were born in 1941! Yet he’s running around the country during all hours of the day and night, campaigning like a 20-year-old, and I’m contentedly ensconced in my comfortable retirement routines and rarely stay up past 10.

As I read more about his background, I marveled at our parallel lives. He met his first wife, a Jewish woman in Brooklyn College, as did I. We both emigrated from Brooklyn to other states. The similarities were getting scary. But as I read on, my competitive spirit slowly morphed from jealousy to docile acceptance. Who could stand up to such Sanderian accomplishments?

Not only does Bernie have a successful political record: four-term mayor of Burlington, VT; 16 years as representative in the U.S. Congress; U.S. senator since 2006; vigorous presidential campaigner in 2016; and current front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the highest office in the land. He’s also made a bundle writing and has showbiz creds, including Saturday Night Live and a movie role as Rabbi Manny Shevitz.  All these accomplishments and he’s still striving? My ego sank. I looked up at the gods, with my arms outstretched, and shouted, “What am I, chopped liver?”

As distressing as my issues with Sanders feel, now I’m looking at another guy’s face flashing on the screen.  His accent sounds a lot like mine, and he’s obviously also a septuagenarian, and I hear he too was reared by blue-collar immigrants —Michael Bloomberg! I have to stop watching the news in the gym.