My father-in-law was 87 when he bought his last car, and he never described it as his last automobile. I just bought a pair of skis. I’m two decades younger than he was when he bought that Mercury Sable, and I’m hoping this won’t be my last pair of skis.
All this came into focus for me the other day when I noticed that my local ski area will give me a free ski pass when I reach age 70. That’s reason enough to hope for longevity. And I remember when Senator John Glenn of Ohio — who traveled into space in 1998 for the second time, on the Shuttle Discovery at age 77 — told me he was disappointed that Vail eliminated free ski passes for people age 70. He nursed that grudge until he died at age 95.
But before you go into orbit over this injustice — Glenn, of course, was the first American to do so, on Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 in 1962 — consider that nearly 120 ski areas provide free skiing for enthusiasts whose years number three score and 10. But several ski areas have postponed free skiing for seniors until age 80. I stay away anyway from Seven Springs in Pennsylvania because the clientele there is too wild, which is to say youthful; perhaps that is why its free-for-seniors age is 80. The same with Dartmouth Skiway, which I first zoomed down at age 18. I’ll have to wait until I’m 80 before I can ski there for free.
No problem. One of Oscar Wilde’s maxims fits us skiers beautifully. He said that a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. That’s why folks like me will hit the slopes even if we have to pay our way at 80. Wilde also said that “health is the first duty in life.“ He knew our type.