Gregory Kirschling
April 25, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In 2002, Rodney Rothman, then just 28, retired to Boca Raton, Fla. The former Late Show With David Letterman head writer moved into a cliquey retirement community (”It’s like high school, except it’s 40 years instead of four”). He played shuffleboard (”It’s like chess; the guys I played would be thinking nine moves ahead of me”). He discovered that not all old guys are as kindly as Morrie (”I definitely met some a–holes”). And he contemplated sex with a foxy 75-year-old named Vivian (”It wasn’t totally out of the question”). Now Rothman has written a funny book about the whole experience, Early Bird.

”I went looking for guidance and wisdom,” says Rothman in his Hollywood Hills home. ”But in the end, most of the people I met seemed just as messed up as me. There’s this guy in his 60s I would play golf with, and he’d say, ‘I just haven’t figured out my thing in life yet.’ And I would be outraged!. . .It’s simultaneously terrifying and incredibly reassuring, because the pressure’s off. If these people don’t have their thing figured out, why should I?”

Rothman very publicly fumbled in 2000, admitting he embellished a scene in a hilarious nonfiction piece he wrote for The New Yorker called ”My Fake Job.” But after licking his wounds in Florida, he’s now turning Bird into an NBC sitcom pilot. ”We’re trying to cast this character in her 60s,” he says, ”and I’ve got the whole network debating which of these 60-year-olds is the sexiest.”

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