Q & A with How to Be an Old Guy author Bill Kilpatrick


1. What motivated you to write the book?

Mainly because I observed so many of my age peers, most of whom were and are retirees, making what I thought to be a hash of it. To me they seemed to have stopped thinking, stopped learning, their opinions set in concrete. They no longer cared and had stopped . . . well, living. They had become navel-starers, especially the widowers, allowing their days to blend into an extended blah, the culmination of which would be the inevitable checking out.

2. Why do think this book is needed?

To my mind because most new and pre-retirees have no real concept of what awaits — the irrelevance, the burden of killing time, the absolute need to bring about meaningful change in how they get from day to day. From a distance retirement may seem a rosy prospect, but up close it can be a dragon that must be slain, or if not slain at least accommodated.

3. What have you enjoyed most about being an old guy?

I’m lucky in that I’m still doing what I’ve done most of my life - that is, I continue to write professionally. To me this has meant getting out of bed each morning with something to do, a task to be performed, a goal to be achieved. When the phone rings and someone wants me to do a piece for them, my real zing is being able to say, “I’d like to help you out, but my plate’s pretty full at the moment. Sorry, but thanks for thinking of me.”

4. What do you NOT like about being an old guy?

The inevitable slowing down, wearing out, and breakdown of the machinery doesn’t thrill me, but it goes with the franchise and there’s not much I can do about it. I also hate being patronized by people who assume my being a geezer means I have to be treated and spoken to as if I were some form of Ming vase. I’m me, damnit, and I’m still plugged in and paying attention.

5. What is your favorite chapter in the book?

I don’t really have a favorite; I believe in the book overall. Had I not I wouldn’t have submitted it for possible publication. I think readers will find in it useful, pertinent, and encouraging information. It’s like an old magazine-editing colleague replied when asked how his magazine was doing: “We’re living up to our motto,” he’d say, and when asked what the motto was he’d answer, “Something on every page.”

6. What is your favorite Sid Caesar skit/movie/show? Why?

I think my citing of the “Sheldon?” skit in the special note preceding Sid Caesar’s foreword answers this question. His TV show and subsequent acting career was long ago, and like a meal enjoyed in the past the specifics may fade but the overall impression and memory remains.

7. What are you working on now?

I do the occasional magazine piece, and for three area golf clubs I write monthly membership newsletters. I’m also nibbling — yes, that’s word, nibbling — on a golf-based murder mystery novel, but at this point where, when, and if it will end nobody knows.

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