Next week is my birthday. I’ll be 32.
“Does it make you feel old?” my mother-in-law asked me after Christmas dinner.
“Not at all,” I said. “I’m aiming for thirty five. After that, I’ll celebrate the anniversary of my thirty fifth birthday every year.” I told her about my favorite Oscar Wilde quote: “Thirty-five is a very attractive age.
society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free
choice, remained thirty-five for years.”
“Wonderful!” she said. “I enjoyed being thirty five for about twenty years.”
We had a good laugh about that.
When I was five years old, I decided being a kid was awful. No one listened to my opinions on world events. I couldn’t buy my own toys or set my own bedtime. I had zero say in what was for dinner.
Worse yet, I was bad at being a kid. I was bad at playground games and making friends. I was bad at being stupid and impulsive.
However, I was brilliant at self-denial, planning ahead, and budgeting my allowance.
I just knew I’d be good at being old, in a way that I was never good at being young.
One day in November, as I entered the Goodwill store, several vibrant signs proclaimed, “Senior Day: Twenty Percent Off for Senior Citizens”.
“Are you eligible for our senior discount today?” I heard the cashier asking a tiny black woman who was very obviously eligible for the discount.
“Oh, no, honey,” the tiny woman said. “I’m only 39.”
Lady, are you kidding me? Pride is one thing, but twenty percent off is something else altogether! If you’re not going to take the discount, at least give it to me! For crying out loud, I could have saved, like, three whole dollars!
As we drove to the art museum earlier this month, my grandmother regaled me with descriptions of the delightful senior’s luncheon to which she had escorted an older woman she knows from church. “It was great!” she said, then hastened to add, “I wasn’t old enough to go, of course. It was all for Dottie.”
“Of course,” I said, motioning for her to continue.
I wisely refrained from commenting when, upon arriving at the museum, grandma bought herself one senior admission, and didn’t pay until after checking with the girl at the counter to be sure her discount was applied.
“It’s great getting old, because you don’t have to pretend anymore. You can say whatever’s on your mind. People expect you to be cranky at my age, so I get away with it,” an older friend from work told me not too long ago. As she finished speaking, she ran her fingers through her hair and came away with hair on her fingers. She ‘tsked’, as if the situation, while disappointing, was not unusual. “Just FYI,” she said, catching my horrified gaze, “when you get old, your hair falls out. Wouldn't want you to be surprised.”
“So noted” I said.
Last week, Randi lamented that, while she was stocking up for our New Years Eve party, neither of the liquor stores she visited carded her. “How many bottles of wine do I need to bring?” she asked sadly. “I have three, but I would kind of like to drink one tonight.”
I winced for her but I’ve never been carded myself. As someone who was bad at being young and impulsive, I was at least twenty-eight – well past the point of carding – before I ever bought anything at a liquor store.
…I wonder if liquor stores have senior citizen discounts?