December 16th, 2009
10:23 AM ET

50on50: My final hours in the 18-49 demo


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/16/art.50on50.aarp.jpg]

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

My wife broke the news to me. The mail just arrived. I’d received a letter. She didn’t have to say another word. It was less than 24 hours from the moment I’d turn 50. And there it was. The most solid confirmation, short of a birth or death certificate, that I was now being kicked out of the 18-49 year old audience “demo."

The Laugh’s On Me

The only way I can properly convey this moment is to tailor an old joke for the occasion.

A man celebrating his 50th birthday is on a plane with his wife, flying over water.

The pilot announces that one of the plane’s engines has shut down and he’s making an emergency landing on an island in the middle the ocean.

He’s off the radar.

He doesn’t know the coordinates of the island.

They’re lost.

The husband turns to the wife with a mental checklist.

Husband: “Did you turn off the stove?”

Wife: “Yes. “

Husband: “Did you pay the mortgage? “

Wife: “Yes. “

Husband: Did you put on the house alarm?

Wife: “Yes. “

Husband: “Did you mail the check for my new AARP membership?”

Wife: “No. “


The AARP found me today. They seem to find every single one of us, just as we’re being kicked out of the 18-49 demo.

The Ladies Who Laugh

The invitation for me to join the AARP came as my wife, who is not expecting an AARP offer for some years, and our 30-something babysitter, Anna, were standing around the kitchen island chatting.

Anna chuckled at the news.

This is the same 30-something Anna who recently explained here that the reason the cold rain didn’t sting my face when I was jogging was that I hadn’t picked up enough speed on my run – so the rain wasn’t hitting me hard enough to hurt.

That same Anna was now smiling broadly at the news I’d been asked to join the AARP.

My wife asked Anna why she seemed so tickled by my AARP invitation.

“Is it because Michael receiving an AARP membership card makes you feel so young,” she asked Anna.

“Yes,” said ANNA emphatically, unable to contain her joy.

The two ladies laughed.

But Anna’s not insensitive. She relayed positively that her parents were thrilled when they got their AARP cards. Because of all the discounts.

Now my wife got really interested.

“What kind of discounts,” she asked.

Everything, said Anna. Restaurants. Hotels.

My wife’s reaction: “I don’t want to go to a hotel with an old man. “

More laughter.

And so – here I was – on the final day of my 40s …

Oh – excuse me. Anna has corrected me.

“It’s not just the final day of your 40s, Michael. It’s the final day of your first HALF CENTURY. “

Thank you, Anna. By the way, Anna is leaving Atlanta to get a master’s degree in special education.

I hope it’s special. I’ll really miss her unsolicited insights on running and aging.

My Laughing Wife

Will I accept the AARP’s offer to join?

I shouldn’t make that decision in my current state.

I want a little more time to research and reflect.

I’m going to put the application on a shelf and enjoy my birthday.

And I’m going to enjoy laughing with my wife on my birthday.

I love when my wife laughs.

I don’t mind that she got a good laugh at the thought of me, her husband, coming of AARP age.

And that was a great line she threw about the hotel.

But she should have known better than to laugh before she read.

Right there, on the front of the AARP invitation, in blue capital letters, was this offer.


To my wife. My spouse and partner for life. Have I got a deal for you.


Follow Michael Schulder's battle against getting kicked out of the 18-49 demo here

Filed under: Michael Schulder
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. chris

    Enjoy the ride my friend...enjoy the ride...Happy Burfday.....And as to the discounts....not even enought to cover the tip....

    December 16, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  2. Lori

    You have company.

    December 16, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  3. Springer

    Michael, your membership gets you discounts for rental cars, hotels and so many other things you'll wonder how you ever lived without it! Take it from someone who's been part of that club for almost 6 years!

    December 16, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  4. meenas17

    Half a century Michael.Heading fast towards 100,Since one ages fastly after 50.
    Wishing you a happy birthday.

    December 16, 2009 at 10:18 am |
  5. Kathy

    Does it help to know that Bruce Springsteen was recently on the cover of the AARP magazine? Bruce was kicked out of the 18-49 demo a while ago, and yet I'm quite confident that people in that demo pay big bucks for his CD's and concert tickets. There are probably many instances where the 50+ crowd actually have such an effect on the 18-49 demo that it nullifies its importance. Who is cooler than Springsteen? Just a thought. . . . and happy birthday!

    December 16, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  6. mary Ann Keegan

    The glass half full : now you'll be the youngest in your age group (50-54) for your next 5k , marathon, etc. !!!

    December 16, 2009 at 8:17 am |