When a small house on the outskirts of town exploded, the news account said, “The elderly woman who lived there was on the porch at the time and was not injured.”
Later in the story, the reporter said, “Mary Smith, 54, had lived in the house about six months.”
Sixty-two at that time, until that day I had never, ever thought of myself as “elderly.” Suddenly I was super sensitive to the idea, so when Bill paid us out at a local restaurant and the manager automatically gave him “the senior citizen discount,” I rankled.
“Did he ask for your driver’s license?” I asked, on our way to the car.
I went back inside.
“At what age does a person receive the senior discount?” I asked.
“Fifty or whenever anyone asks for it.”
“Do they get the discount just for telling you they are senior citizens?”
“Yes, ma’am. Anyone willing to admit to being over 50 can have it. No argument.”
Pretty shabby way to run a business is what I decided.
At the movie theatre, again, we got the senior discount without asking. People over 60 get the break.
“So what made them give it to you?” I asked Bill. “Did they check your identification?”
A person can get a driver’s license at 16, register for the draft and vote at 18, go into a liquor store at 21. All of those “privileges” come at specific ages. At what age is a person considered a senior citizen? Elderly?
I looked it up.
“Elderly” is described as “Aged,” “old,” “long in the tooth (for crying out loud),” “decrepit,” “doddering,” “doddery,” “over the hill,” “retirees,” “golden agers,” “geezers.”
None of the definitions I found gave a specific age for any of those.
A robust young stranger rapped on the truck window as we parked at Walmart last week. He said he’d just pulled out of a space closer to the store. He would hold it for us so we could pull down there.
Bill had already turned off the engine, so he told the fellow we were fine. The guy insisted. Bill declined. The guy got a little belligerent. Bill finally shrugged and agreed. He restarted the engine and pulled down to the closer parking place, which this guy was reserving with his body.
When we thanked him, he said, “I was raised up to be respectful of my elders.”
Bill clamped his hand over my fist. I’d about had it with this elderly stuff.
Political candidates have helped me adjust. Front-runners like Donald Trump, 69, and Hillary Clinton, 68, Bernie Sanders, 74, and possibilities Bloomberg and Biden, both 73, make it appear elderly folks are still viable.
With Bill’s coaxing, I have finally stopped complaining about the discounts. He reminded me that I am, after all, the tightwad in the family. Also, he reminded, I am a little elderly for fisticuffs. When I turned on him, he grinned.
Conclusion: A person over 50 must maintain a sense of humor. As it turns out, it’s a short step from geezer to curmudgeon.
Oh, yeah? Look it up.
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