In the weeks I was absent from these pages, I joined what a friend gleefully calls the “Double Nickels Club.” It seems I am now the human chronological equivalent of a back roads speed limit and, as such, eligible for a host of so-called senior discounts.
I didn’t have a problem with turning 55. Not like the hair-whitening, full-out panic attack that accompanied the big 5-0. Many of my friends are turning 60 and, as I learned in high school, there are advantages in hanging out with the bigger kids. Everyone’s old enough to buy cigarettes and liquor, of course, but when your party pals start talking Social Security benefits, it’s amazing how young you feel.
When I was 50, I poo-poo’ed the financial perks of maturity.
“I’d rather die than ask for the ‘senior discount,’” I proclaimed stubbornly. “I’m not even sure my mouth could form the words. ‘Seeeeennn... Sennnioooooo...’ See? I can’t do it!”
It’s amazing what five years and a flaccid economy will do to your perspective.
Now, I say bring it! Lay that 10 percent discount on me, Arby’s, IHOP and Long John Silver’s! Go ahead and woo me, Jiffy Lube and AMC Theatres! And, if I have to do my department store shopping on designated days to get that 15 percent markdown, I’ll be all-too happy to comply.
I am so down with the discounts-for-50-somethings philosophy, I think everyone should offer them. After all, roast beef sandwiches, pancakes and Lobster Bites are nice, but they’re not exactly helpful for people prone to high cholesterol and diabetes.
C’mon merchants! Give us price cuts on things we really need — like fish oil capsules, gym memberships and sunscreen. Take 15 percent off colon cleanses, dental implants and Lipitor. Make Botox BOGO!
C’mon middle-agers, stand up and be heard! In every spa, yoga and Pilates studio, demand Senior Day discounts. Boycott your neighborhood coffee shop until they price-slash your lattes! Stage sit-ins on downtown sidewalks, crying, “Hell no, we won’t go!” until the city waives your parking meter fines!
It’s a movement waiting to happen, I tell you.
I was at liquor store, shopping for booze for our annual New Year’s Eve dinner party.
“Now, here’s where a senior discount would come in handy,” I murmured to myself, while wondering how bad bottom-shelf scotch could possibly taste. “I’d trade my 10 percent at Chili’s, Wendy’s AND Motel 6 for a discount on Dewar’s.”
A nice, unsuspecting college-aged man rang up my purchases at the counter.
“And with your 10 percent discount, that will be $78.64,” he said with a smile.
“My 10 percent what?” I snapped, incredulous.
“Discount, ma’am. Ten percent.”
“I heard you, wise guy!” I shouted. “Did you hear me ask for a discount? How dare you just ASSUME I’m a senior! You didn’t even card me! What is it, my hair? These spots on my neck!? For the record, they’re only freckles. And, OK, maybe a random skin tag. I have no idea where that came from. But, premature gray runs in my family. My dad’s side, if you must know. Besides, there may be snow on the rooftop, but there’s fire in the furnace, baby! Ask my husband. He’ll tell you!”
The guy just stood there, mouth gaping. He knew I was just getting started.
“You’ve got some kind of nerve, blithely handing out discounts to anyone not wearing flip-flops and a tramp stamp! How old are you? 22? I’m young enough to be your mother, which, technically, could put me in my 40s.”
“Don’t interrupt your elders,” I continued ranting. “Not that I’m that eld. I mean old. Fifty-five is young! Heck, Burger King doesn’t give discounts until you’re 60. And Amtrak? They make you wait till you’re 62. By Amtrak standards, I’m a freakin’ pup!”
The poor boy mustered a smile and said, “It’s Monday, ma’am. Everyone gets 10 percent off spirits on Mondays.”
I gulped and glanced apologetically at the five stunned people lined up behind me.
“Oh,” I mumbled. “Good idea. I didn’t …. uh. OK, then. Happy new year…”
I shuffled out of the store, heavy with shame and the realization that being a senior doesn’t always equal being mature.
On the way home, I picked up some Lobster Bites and paid full price.
Oh, I still want my senior discount, but I want it on my terms, when I’m good and ready.