Schoenstein, 51, is prematurely facing a complaint that seems endemic in the America of the 1980's--fear of aging. As he tells it, Porcelana ads set him to surreptitiously eyeing the backs of his hands for liver spots. Visions of Clairol rinses dance in his head, along with idylls of retirement communities somewhere in the sun. Along the route he meets a barely distinguishable parade of ornately coiffed grandmothers in pink pedal pushers and their paunchy spouses who talk of nothing but interest rates and bypass operations. All seem to suffer from terminal ennui, though most vociferously insist they've never been happier. While the recital earns a few smiles and even a guffaw or two in the first couple of chapters, the development of Schoenstein's theme--that the ""security"" of these enclaves may be dangerous to your mental and physical health--eventually becomes numbingly repetitious. Toward the end, in an attempt to vary his material, Schoenstein introduces a 77-year-old ""lust-for-lifer."" Naturally, ""Molly"" lives not in a leisure village but on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where chasing muggers and attending nuclear disarmament rallies apparently keep her younger than springtime. While the author's sallies do elicit chuckles from time to time, his ""heartwarming"" paeans to family life would draw groans even from Louisa May Alcott. The sucrose content of these passages makes ""New Coke"" seem like Perrier. Schoenstein does have a way with the one-liner (though, even here, his ear occasionally deceives him) and an eye for the telling detail, but by limiting himself to such a narrow range of risible possibilities, he's deprived himself of the offbeat variations and unexpected turns that mark a true thigh-slapper.