Washington - Bill Clinton is a master of self invention.
Nearly every American knows the photograph of the star-struck 16- year-old youth, worshipfully shaking the hand of President John F Kennedy - symbolic of his teenage dream to live in the White House someday.
Nearly six years after the end of his spectacular presidency, Clinton is still mining the suggestive power of photographs. His picture is everywhere - at the AIDS conference in Toronto with Bill Gates, in Southeast Asia with the elder President George HW Bush visiting the tsunami devastation, and soon, at a private concert with the rock idol of the 1960s - the Rolling Stones.
Bill Clinton turns 60 on Saturday, but the celebration will only reach its climax with the Stones' performance on October 29 in Manhattan's Beacon Theatre - three days after Senator Hillary Clinton's 59th birthday.
Between now and then, Clinton will roll out a series of events that will not only boost his fame and public image - but also make money for his good-deeds foundation that has brokered cheaper AIDS medications, clean air agreements and an anti-obesity programme in the nation's schools.
In many ways, it's typical of how the US baby boom generation is entering retirement - rockin', rollin', and still on the move without a thought of sitting in a rockin' chair. US President George W Bush turned 60 in July with less fanfare.
But for Clinton, turning 60 is harder than it looks.
'I hate it, but it's true,' Clinton said at the world AIDS conference in Toronto earlier this week. 'For most of my working life, I was the youngest person doing what I was doing. Then one day I woke up and I was the oldest person in every room.'
Soon, Clinton often hints, he may even start a second political career. That at least is the message from jokes about his becoming the country's 'First Gentleman' - a play on the idea of his role if wife Hillary were elected president in 2008.
What other ambitions remain for a man who is one of the most popular presidents ever of the United States - both at home and abroad? Secretary General of the United Nations, perhaps. Or winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Los Angeles Times suggested recently.
No matter how unrealistic such dreams may be, there's little chance that Clinton will fade into political retirement, even if he can cash in up to 350,000 dollars for his public appearances, and even if he is temporarily felled by his health, as happened with his open heart surgery in 2004.
His ambitious spirit remains unbroken, and the wild success of his memoirs, selling like hotcakes with 1 million copies around the world, is proof of what the world expects.
Clinton has led a charmed life, despite the public controversy over his love affairs.
As the country's 42nd president, Clinton reaped the profits of the world economic boom as Eastern Europe disentangled from the Soviet Union and started to thrive. The charismatic Democrat's deliberate, somewhat conservative policies brought the country into the 21st Century.
He reformed social welfare and demanded that citizens take on more responsibility for themselves. His budgets became leaner while public coffers brimmed over with revenues from the emerging high tech boom.
Along with the non-bloody intervention in Haiti to oust a military government, Clinton also led Middle East diplomacy that was successful for a while at least, and brought home the Dayton Accords to end the war in Bosnia.
Clinton however provoked bitterness among his enemies - the political and religious right wing. The liberal, life-loving politician was charged with abuse of office and questionable womanizing affairs when he was governor of Arkansas, and the nickname 'Slick Willy' stuck.
Finally, his affair with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky became a fait accompli of sorts. He only narrowly dodged being removed from office for false testimony before Congress. The sordid details of the Lewinsky affair splashed across newspapers and television for years on end.
But despite even those hurdles, Clinton has sailed through to popularity.
Clinton is the classic example of success in the American meritocracy. With hard work and good grades, he rose above a poor background to graduate from the elite Yale University, then becoming governor of Arkansas.
In 1992, he did the unthinkable, ousting incumbent Republican George HW Bush, the father of the current president. These days, the two men are friends who pursue humanitarian interests and play golf.
If his cap is set for another residency at the White House, it would be on the coattails of Hillary, his wife of 31 years who cashed in on her First Lady fame to become elected senator from New York state.
But playing second fiddle would not be easy for Clinton, if it comes to that.
© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur