Well, it happened. Standing at the counter, the impossibly young cashier asked me whether I wanted … the senior special.
I realize I’m not as young as I used to be, or as young-looking. I realize the March of Time is inescapable. I realize that my once dark and luxuriant hair is now thinning and gray, that gravity has taken over where musculature has failed, that what once was a smooth countenance has achieved a certain craggy quality.
But still … the senior special? This could be a problem.
For one thing, I’m not certain I qualify. I’m 58. Some places, the senior special kicks in when you’re 55 but in other places, you have to wait until you’re 60 or even 65. Make up your minds, people. Getting older is confusing enough without having a clear set of rules to go by.
Wait a minute. I think that’s the problem. There are no clear rules as to what constitutes a senior.
Oh, sure, you can go by the artificial yardsticks they set up for you. Getting an AARP card, for example. It’s amazing how the very second you turn 50 years old, you get an AARP offer in the mail. It’s like Harry Potter turning 11 and getting his invitation to Hogwarts. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if AARP delivered them via magic owl, just like the letters from Professor Dumbledore.
How seriously should this be taken? Not very, in my view. In fact, when my friend Frank and I got our newly-minted AARP cards, my idea was to burn them, like draft cards in the ‘60s. Frank thought better. He said we should take them out for a spin, eating dinner at 4 p.m. and demanding reduced admission prices at the movies.
So where does seniorism begin? I suppose you could go by the adage about only being as old as you feel, but this can be a fooler. I used to be way overweight and the toll on my body was excruciating. I actually feel younger today than I did a year ago. Does that mean I used to be a senior but I’m not anymore?
I’m beginning to think that senior status is just one of those things you can’t really define, at least not with 100-percent certainty. You just know it, for yourself, when it makes sense for you.
Which gets me back to the young girl behind the counter. I have to admit I was torn. I liked the idea of getting a discount, but I didn’t like the idea of being called a senior, so I passed.
I may be getting older, but I still have the ego of a man half my age.