My German Wife Invents a Heroic New Nickname for Senior Citizens

“I know you are wise, old ones, but my GOD you move slowly.” — Photo by Ruth Ellison (

Remember back in the summer of 2013 when The Wife and I went to Herrenhäuser Gärten here in Hannover, Germany, to see the International Firework Competition? It’s where different European countries orchestrate pyrotechnic displays set to music. Anyway, as we were waiting to enter the garden, we noticed the vast majority of the people in line were old. Like, old as balls. We soon found ourselves lost in a sea of gray hair — adrift upon wave after wave of receding, platinum-rimmed pates. It was really quite breathtaking.

So after thoroughly appraising the short-timers around us, my wife leaned close to me, whispering…

THE WIFE: “They all have such silver hair. They are silver surfers.”

This has since become our household name for anyone over the age of 65. — Photo by Xin Mei (

20 thoughts

  1. Silver surfers? I’m sorry to disillusion Ihre aufstrebenden Frau, but that phrase was used by the “Saga Magazine” (for elderly people) here as long ago as 1993 if my memory serves me right. The Government here (spit) always calls us “Old Age Pensioners” still, despite the fact that we have petitioned them repeatedly that we want to be addressed as “Senior Citizens”. Being call OAP’s in all the correspondence from them and the papers makes us look like benefit scroungers!


  2. I have to say, I’ve been impressed with older Germans. Once in Berlin, at the American Army HQ, I saw an old lady in a crosswalk; as she crossed a hurrying vehicle came INTO the crosswalk. That old woman didn’t flinch — she laid her umbrella squarely and sturdily across the windshield! The driver stopped, obediently reversed, “sat and stayed” until the woman cleared the other half of the crosswalk. So your wife could be onto something!


  3. I love that image of 100s of silver surfers milling around waiting for the fireworks. My ambition was always to become a grey nomad, travelling the world with my silver haired pals. How much better to do this as a fleet of silver surfers.
    I love the blog by the way, I lived in Germany for a year many moons ago and your words bring back some of those long forgotten memories. Nicely written too.


  4. With the silver comes the lead, leaden feet, leaden fingers, the arthritis, poor eyesight, wrinkles, and the “old person smell”. No matter how much you bath and shower and change your socks and knickers there’s always that stink of decay on your skin. You know you’ve got it when your friends back away, coughing and retching and you don’t get an invite to their hose any more!

    So ist das Leben !


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