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We were out for dinner with some friends, and the conversation turned to retirement. Some of us were fully retired. Some were semiretired. And we all were just plain tired, which is how most of us feel after a big meal.

The issue of pensions came up, and I explained that, when I left teaching in 1978 in New York, I was just one year shy of when I would have been entitled to any retirement benefits. Mary Ellen suggested I call the retired teachers association to be sure. My wife is interested in my welfare, but I think all I’m entitled to is a pension.

The woman who answered the phone had that familiar New York inflection. I felt at ease because I knew I could say the words “garage” and “drawer” and “mother” without someone making fun of my accent. Sadly, I had no way of working those words into the conversation.

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