Category Archives: lists

How to be 50: How to Help Your Kid Pick a College

By Charlotte Latvala

The ivy halls beckon.

The ivy halls beckon.

Let’s face it: At 50, we barely remember why we chose the college we did. Maybe we randomly picked a school close to home, or gravitated to the university where our current girlfriend/boyfriend was headed. If our parents were involved, it was only to co-sign the student loans.

The expectations are different today. Your child’s success, after all, is your success, and nothing is more important than shoving your kid vigorously in the right direction. Here’s a little road map to help:

  • Tell him if he doesn’t attend the college of your choice, he’s out of the will.
  • When he reminds you that your net worth is basically whatever your old Pink Floyd albums would fetch on eBay, throw darts at a map until one lands on a college town. Announce, in your best Christopher Lee voice, “Then Fate has sealed your decision.”
The enemy approaches, and it is the first tuition payment.

The enemy approaches, and it is the first tuition payment.

  • Add some clarity by repeating “This is the MOST IMPORTANT DECISION OF YOUR LIFE” on an hourly basis as your kid pours over college brochures and web sites.
  • Keep the mood light by saying, “No pressure now!” disregarding the fact that you’ve compared him to an overachieving sibling for the past four years.
  • When consulting with high school guidance counselors, use the royal “we.” (Caveat: You should only do this if you have a superstar child you enjoy taking full credit for.)
We're gloating over our good grades!

We’re gloating over our good grades!

  • Spend thousands of dollars on SAT prep classes so your child can test higher than his actual ability and make it into a college he isn’t prepared for. (Later, complain bitterly when he drops out.)
  • Insist that he visit your alma mater. Tell long, pointless stories of your undergrad hi-jinks, culminating in a bawdy tale involving a freezing cold night, minimal clothing, and a cafeteria tray.
What tales this piece of molded plastic could tell!

What tales this piece of molded plastic could tell!

  • Ask the tour guide embarrassing personal questions. Repeatedly reference beer pong to show how hip you still are. Ask loudly, “Was that a guy or a girl?” whenever a student with a man bun walks by.
What manner of bun is this?

Explain yourself, bun-man!

  • Elbow the other parents on the tour and say “Well, we didn’t have THAT in the eighties if you know what I mean!” (You don’t actually mean anything but this is a wonderful ploy to get your child to walk quickly away from you and finish a tiresome tour in a hurry.)
  • Back at home, repeatedly call the admissions office to ask if your kid is “blowing everyone else out of the water.”
  • Once he gets into school – any school – hold a bonfire and burn all the college brochures that accumulated in the past year. Trust us, you won’t want to relive any of this.
Ring of College Fire.

Ring of College Fire.

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Filed under college, college admissions, humor, lists, middle-aged

How to be 50: How to Feel Better About Yourself

By Charlotte Latvala

Be truthful: You’re not where you imagined you’d be, some decades back. Because, at 20, you pictured yourself living in a Duran Duran video, or at least working at some cool job like Martha Quinn’s.

Martha was a great role model. But not necessarily for you.

Martha was a great role model. But not necessarily for you.

The reality is that you have a pile of bills, an unpredictably leaky roof, and eyesight so bad you need to magnify your screen to 140% just to check Facebook.

But there’s no cause for sadness. You can feel better about your underachieving ways without tiresome soul-searching. Try these shortcuts instead: Continue reading

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How to be 50: How to Throw a 50th Birthday Party

By Charlotte Latvala

Every milestone deserves a mug.

Every milestone deserves a mug.

Once you turn 50, you discover that one of your new duties is throwing parties for all your equally ancient friends. Don’t sulk; instead, consider it a wonderful chance for revenge!

Of course, you’ll need some black balloons. And don’t forget to:

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How to be 50: 25 Things You Won’t Miss

By Charlotte Latvala

Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1981.

Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1981.

It’s tempting, now that you’re 50, to wax nostalgic about the good old days. After all, back in the 1980s your metabolism was 10 times faster, you could remember all the members of The Smiths (not just Morrissey and Johnny Marr), and you were blithely unaware of the hazards of genetically modified foods.

All that, and you could function amazingly well on four hours of sleep.

But was the past actually better? Well, do you really want to go back to the days when you had to carry your mobile phone in a sack as big as a diaper bag? What about schlepping a diaper bag, period? And how about these other not-so-good memories? Such as:

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Filed under 1970s, 1980s, humor, lists, mid-life

How to be 50: How to Retire

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By Charlotte Latvala

Retirement? What? you’re saying – I’m only 50, for crying out loud. And although you’ve heard those urban myths about people retiring at 50, you’ve never met anyone who actually has.

Still, the Big R is kinda, sorta looming. Mathematically, you’re closer to retirement than, say, having your first legal drink.

And because you’re the sort of 50-year-old who’s reading How to be 50 instead of Forbes, you probably need some friendly advice about facing this major milestone.

First and foremost: You can’t just stop working.

You need money. You need a plan. You need a dream.

But mostly, you need money.

How to be 50 can’t simply write you a check. But, as usual, we do offer some handy shortcuts: Continue reading

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Filed under humor, lists, mid-life, retirement, self-help

How to be 50: How to Vacation

By Charlotte Latvala

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When you were younger, vacationing was easy. You tossed your flip-flops in the Datsun, rolled down your windows, and cranked up Tom Petty on the cassette player. You could drive all night to get to the beach at sunrise – then stay up all day and toss back shots till midnight.

At 50, however, such spontaneity takes a back seat to thoughts like “Is there an AARP discount?” and “I’m not going out in that heat.” But you can still enjoy a vacation at your advanced age. Simply… Continue reading

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How to be 50: How to be an Old Parent

By Charlotte Latvala

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One day about 10 years ago, we at How to be 50 threw up our hands and said:  “Let’s have another child! In 20 years we’ll have someone to drive us to the Senior Center for bingo!”

(Or else we just weren’t thinking. We really don’t remember.)

Ancient parents, you already know you stick out like fossilized thumbs among the fresh-faced, IPA-swilling moms and dads who don’t get your Peter Frampton references. But you can still enjoy parenthood, whatever your state of decrepitude. Here’s how: Continue reading

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How to be 50: How to Accessorize

By Charlotte Latvala

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Just to be clear:  How to be 50 is not a fashion blog. Truth be told, we get a little anxious when talking about our appearance. We would rather be sitting down with a nice cold glass of Pinot Gris and reading Persuasion for the fifth time.

However, talk about it we must. Because at 50, certain changes occur. Waistlines expand while other body parts deflate. There’s a certain trick to dressing the ever-evolving middle-aged body.

That trick is called “accessories.”

Accessories exist for one purpose and one purpose only: To pull the eye away from wrinkly necks, lumpy backs, and cleavage that’s more matronly than eye-popping. Here are the basics: Continue reading

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Filed under 1970s, clothes, fashion, humor, lists, mid-life, middle-aged, satire

How to be 50: How to Make Excuses

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By Charlotte Latvala

You’re 50 and you haven’t scaled the heights of anything – you’re not a CEO, your kids don’t attend Ivy League colleges, and your novel is still languishing as a half-hearted Word document in the depths of a folder labeled “Future projects?”

Sure, you could own up to your failings. You should have worked harder, and smarter, and been a more focused human being. But why do that when you can make terrific (and honestly, more interesting) excuses? Here are a few to get you started: Continue reading

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Filed under 1970s, 50, humor, lists, mid-life, middle-aged, satire