Last year when my wife and I were a youthful 68, I learned a valuable semantic lesson. She was in Arizona helping her 92 year old father sell his home. Right before closing, the buyer was rushed to the hospital so the sale was in jeopardy. I asked Mollie how old the buyer was and she said, “About our age.” I made the mistake of confirming, “So she’s seventyish,” in the same sense as her father was “ninetyish.” I thought it was good that the buyer wasn’t older and at higher risk. But after a long silence on the phone, my wife rebuked me, “Don’t do that! I hate when you do that.” The phone call went downhill from there and I was distracted from concern for the real victim (the buyer).  But I did finally learn once and for all: Never round anyone’s age up.


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