The first call came early on the morning of July 21, before I had a chance to down that first gulp of green tea.
"So how does it feel to make it to the dark side?" my OLDER sister was asking.
"I'll have to let you know," I told her, noting that according to my baby book — the one our mother filled out back in 1958 when black and white television was the norm and breast-feeding wasn't — I would not officially turn 50 until 8:06 a.m.
That was minutes away.
Besides, she already knows how it feels, having made the over-the-hill trek a full 6 YEARS, 2 MONTHS and 8 DAYS ahead of me.
Still, it appears I am catching up. For the most part that's okay. Especially since I'm in some pretty good company. This year Holly Hunter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Caroline Kennedy, Ellen DeGeneres, Prince, the peace sign and the Gibson Flying V guitar are among those celebrating the half-century mark with me and, I might add, so is AARP. That probably explains why I have yet to receive my invitation to join the powerful old folks organization with all those awesome discounts.
I'm thinking they probably forgot. You know how memory is one of the first things to slip ... .
Now, where was I?
Frankly feeling a little underwhelmed.
Sure, I received my fair share of over-the-hill calls and cards from family and friends. The barbs were mostly back-at-yous from some really old folks who have been waiting to jab at me for what must seem like decades to them.
Still, aside from the fact that I now qualify for the Times' recently announced Enhanced Pension Plan, there has been no big bolt out of the blue. No sudden transformation or enlightenment.
No AARP card.
Fifty is nifty, but for me it has been a slow and gradual assent, one that I've tried to fend off with Capri Red hair dye, sporadic exercise, gallons of green tea and the women's version of a midlife crisis car: a Chrysler Sebring convertible.
And while I've sworn never to fall for the Botox bit — particularly after seeing the awful effects on high-def TV on a celebrity formally married to Elvis — I have discovered that if you can maintain a Mona Lisa-type smile, those loathsome lip lines diminish somewhat.
Mona was definitely on to something.
So I've hit the big 5-0. I'm still not ready to sport that salt-and-pepper look that makes men like my husband look so much more dignified and women like me look plain old. Or give up the convertible, even though it's becoming more difficult to pull myself out of the lowrider. Or stop cracking wise to the older folks I know who are now gaining on the big 6-0.
So here's to hoping for more years of green tea, Capri Red hair dye, the Chrysler convertible and Mona Lisa's smile.
And finally, finally getting my very own belated AARP card.
Michele Miller can be reached at email@example.com or at (727) 869-6251