There are going to be close to twenty-five thousand of us milling around this accommodating city, starting early tomorrow, for three busy days, but our gathering of “senior citizens,” as we are so often called, is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of our total number. We are members of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), in joint pilgrimage (“Mature America Goes to Town,” one of our myriad publications has put it) to our biennial national convention. The AARP is one of the world’s least exclusive membership organizations. To belong, you don’t have to be American and you don’t have to be retired; you are merely supposed to have turned fifty. To become entitled to its many perquisites, you also have to remit dues of five dollars a year, which covers your spouse, if any, too. (If you sign up for three years, it’s twelve-fifty, and a ten-year membership costs thirty-five dollars.) For that outlay, you become a full-fledged part of an institution that includes more than twenty-eight million of us—my number is 65440752—and is increasing by eight thousand every single day. We have become what our leaders have described as “the largest private, nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization in the world.” Our dues give us a crack at all sorts of cut-rate opportunities: in homeowner’s insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, investment programs, tax-filing advice, and a mail-order pharmacy service that is currently filling more than seven million prescriptions a year. Although our officers tend to deny it, we are probably the most influential lobby in the country.