Blog: Getting Older

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Burt Ross

Way back in 2014 (you remember that year, don’t you?), I was working out at Diamond’s Malibu Gym (if you can call sitting on a bike going nowhere “working out”) when a woman approached me and said “you are looking younger and better every day.” I was about to fall off my bike with satisfaction when I realized she was talking to a young man standing right next to me named Casper, who once played Tarzan and often stars in mortal combat roles, whatever that means. He did not have an ounce of fat on him, and were it my gym, I would have kicked him out immediately for demoralizing the rest of us.

In the 1960s, women would come up to me and tell me I reminded them of Omar Sharif, and in the 1970s I was occasionally mistaken for Al Pacino. It has all been downhill since then. About 10 years ago, I was at a baseball game in Baltimore’s Camden Yards when a woman sitting behind me got all excited. She told me I looked exactly like Abe Vigoda.

Now I don’t want to insult Abe, who is 93 at the time of this writing, but even he would agree he is no Omar Sharif. Since I come from New Jersey, aka “the old country,” I was sorely tempted to take a contract out on the outspoken and clearly farsighted lady, but I decided to restrain myself. It is a long slippery slope indeed from Omar Sharif to Abe Vigoda — I can tell you that!

If these aforementioned indignities were not enough, the junk in my mailbox constantly adds insult to injury. Apparently the rest of the world has figured out I am in my 70s — something I would like to forget. My mail now consists primarily of promotional pieces for Viagra, walk-in bathtubs and, of course, cremations. My favorite was the “free cremation” offer which guaranteed a free cremation for the person who won the lottery (sure would like to know what the loser won). Since then I have received an even better cremation offer — one for a “safe cremation.” I certainly want to know what a “safe cremation” means, since I assume one of my loved ones upon hearing of my demise would want to get a second opinion before lighting the match.

As some of you might know, I was one of the few investors who spoke at Bernie Madoff’s sentencing almost six years ago. My friend Diana Henriques, now retired from The New York Times, wrote the authoritative book about Madoff called “The Wizard of Lies” in which she mistakenly refers to me as “an elderly gentleman.”

Again I had to stifle a strong urge to take a contract out on her, but instead, I did the very next best thing and threatened Diana with immediate and massive legal action if she did not change the wording in her second edition. I am quite happy to report the description was changed from “elderly” to “mature.” Now that’s progress!

Diana told me confidentially she would recommend that Sean Connery play me in a possible forthcoming movie about Madoff. Thanks a lot Diana! Sean is now 84. I guess I should be grateful she didn’t recommend Abe Vigoda.