That was the year that everyone I know turned 60. I remember the year everybody got married, 1985, and then, 30 years later, we were all marking our three score.
At my little celebration, we hit a bistro, and I had steak tartare and foie gras. On my wife’s 60th, we hit a bistro. I had brunch at a bistro for my next door neighbour’s three score. It’s true, a lot of us come from the theatre, we fancy ourselves latter day de Beauvoirs and Camus’, sitting in the corner booth drinking café express and smoking Gauloises. We celebrate in bistros. I haven’t birthdayed at every bistro in Toronto, but I’m sure I will.
Then the presents. What do you get someone who is 60? Drinkers are easy, just spend a lot. But wives? I got my wife a bracelet, and one for me, but 60 is probably the last birthday you want to publicly celebrate and memorialize until you’re at least 95, maybe 100. I used to buy my wife Lalique cats on significant anniversaries, but the cats kept knocking them over and chipping them. Cats are cute.
One of the important things that happens at 60 is you get your life’s earning and CPP contribution statement from Service Canada, so you can calculate your pension and when to take it. My earnings and contributions report was enlightening – it reminded me of jobs I’d forgotten I had, and of years I’d spent off the grid.
I made the choice to take my CPP early, at 60. I would get $200 more a month were I to wait five more years to 65, but, what will $700 buy then that $500 can’t buy now? A terabyte of data for the roaming package on my wristwatch? A quarter pound of legal marijuana? No, better collect now, I might get run over by a bus.
When I mention early CPP to my friends who are turning over the odometer, most are puzzled. Boomers do not see themselves as pensioners. Yet. My friends are starting to get tired of working, and some are winding down, buying boats or vacation homes, but none has retired yet.
My broker has handed off his key accounts, and his wife, the banker, is doing largely post career work now, but they haven’t moved to Florida full time yet. My neighbor, manager of a sprawling restaurant empire, is taking fewer shifts, and spending more weekends up north, but he’s still working. My friend the TV director is still busy as long as there are Olympics and hockey playoffs, but he’s getting awfully fond of his yacht.
The point is, we’re not retiring, per se, we’re easing out. No “gold watch, clean out your desk, have a farewell lunch”. No, when our working lives end it’ll be with a whimper, not a bang. We probably won’t notice when it really happens, just awake one day to realize we aren’t working that day, or the next.

Update: The broker has retired, but not to Florida yet. Toronto’s too much fun. The restaurant manager has finally retired, but not to his house up north yet. The TV director is still working, but a friend of ours recently developed cancer, and a lot of us are rethinking the whole “work until you die” thing. Now the challenge is too keep all these accomplished, active people busy. What comes next? I guess we’re going to find out.