Dr. Seuss tells the tale of “obsolete children” as they get old

August 25, 2022

It came us a great surprise to Save with SPP that prolific children’s writer Dr. Seuss had once taken a shot at a book for seniors about getting old.

You’re Only Old Once: A Book for Obsolete Children was published by Random House in 1986.

It takes a humourous look – a rhyming look, of course – at some of the things we “obsolete children” have to go through on the back nine of life.

It begins with our hero, a rather tired looking white-haired gent with a moustache, wishing he could be in a faraway land he is reading about in National Geographic, rather than being “here in this chair in the Golden Years Clinic on Century Square for Spleen Readjustment and Muffler Repair.”

The hero, not feeling his best, has come in “for an Eyesight and Solvency Test.”

The Quiz-Docs, he learns, will “start questionnairing”. They’ll ask you, point blank, how your parts are all faring…did your cousins have dreadful wild nightmares at night? Did they suffer such ailment’s as Bus Driver’s Blight, Chimney Sweep’s Stupor, or Prune Picker’s Plight?”

Next, we learn, after losing “both your necktie and vest… an Ogler is ogling your stomach and chest.”

Soon there are more Oglers ogling more of you, the book tells us. “The Oglers have blossomed like roses in May. And silently, grimly, they ogle away.”

After a nervous wait, our hero is off to get his hearing tested. He is off “to a booth where the World-Renowned Ear Man, Von Crandall, has perfected a test known as Bellows and Candle. If the wind from the bellows can’t blow out the flame, you’ve failed — and you’re going to be sorry you came.”

That’s because failing the test means “you’ll be told that your hearing’s so murky and muddy, your case calls for special intensified study.” After listening to “noises from far and from near,” and getting “a black mark for the ones you can’t hear,” it’s back to the waiting room with the waiting room fish, Norval.

Our hero is ultimately wheeled past “Stethoscope Row” where he will later get “stethed with some fine first-class scoping.” But first, there’s the Allergy Whiz and more tests, and then to the Dietician.

“And when that guy finds out what you like, you can bet it won’t be on your diet – from here on, forget it,” our hero learns. After getting prescribed a plethora of coloured pills, our hero (this being in the U.S., we presume) then is asked that “a few paper forms… be properly filled so that you and your heirs may be properly billed.”

But, there’s a happy ending – after all the tests, ogling, prodding and pills, our hero is “in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.”

For those of us who are indeed frequent flyers at the blood-test clinic, known by first name at the pharmacy, run into aging peers at the gym and peer at tiny-print food labels to double check sugar and sodium levels, this book is a very funny, rhyming look at the reality of seniorhood. It’s well worth a trip to a bookstore or library!

When seniors aren’t talking about their health, they’re talking about how the cost of everything is going through the roof. Us retired boomers remember when gas was 77 cents a gallon, or about 20-odd cents per litre, and it’s now gone up ten times that price. The same’s true for the 10 cent bottle of pop and the 25 cent loaf of bread. Inflation’s been here for years, sometimes high and then low, and where it will lead us, we really don’t know. The best defence against a rising cost of living is having retirement savings. If you are fortunate enough to have a workplace pension, you have a leg up. If you don’t, a fine do-it-yourself option exists via the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You provide the dollars, and SPP provides the low-cost investment management to grow those dollars into future retirement income. Check them out today!

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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