Well apparently yours truly is a senior citizen now. Specifics on that in a bit, let’s talk first about how that came to pass.
I had a birthday a few weeks ago, and celebrated it very quietly. Not that I have an issue with my age. No really. I never have. In fact, I don’t really care about it, and sometimes I have to think for a moment to remember how many trips I’ve made around the sun. It seems like a silly thing to care about most of the time.
There are indicators of course. I do notice the deeper lines in my face, the drier skin, the ever-drooping parts, the gray hairs … but even that doesn’t bother me too much. I find it kind of amusing that I even have gray hair, so if anything, it makes me laugh.
My sisters always tease me about being the “baby” of the family, and the gray hair is physical proof that I am no longer 12. Still, they seem reluctant to take that into account.
I just don’t think a birthday is that big a deal, so I like to keep it on the down low. Besides, you never know what your “friends” are going to pull on you as a joke when they know it’s your special day. So my big day came and went without much adieu.
Birthdays are a big deal when you’re young. Each year brings about new privileges and opportunities, so we look forward to them with great anticipation. Not to mention they are filled with lots of parties, gifts and friends wishing us well, so no wonder we enjoy them so much.
After we turn 21 though, that all drops off, and the next opportunity is over a decade away. We can become president at 35 … as if any one of us wants that job. Then there is even more of a gap after that milestone, and two decades go by before opportunities and privileges show up on the radar again. So long that we really aren’t even looking anymore, but there they are.
So it was this year for me. I hit the speed limit… but it’s no longer the speed limit, so never mind. I also hit the age where “senior discounts” begin. Now there’s a laugh. Really. It makes me laugh out loud to think that somebody, somewhere considers me a “senior.” Me, the rowdy girl from St. Pete’s who wishes she had a dollar for every time someone told her to “just grow up!”
That’s never happening, no matter how high the numbers end up to be. However, I am a frugal gal, so out of curiosity I went to the AARP website to check out what sort of discounts are available now that I am ‘of age’ to see if there’s anything out there that I can use.
I’ve been a subscriber of AARP for a few years now. You don’t have to be any particular age to subscribe, and their magazine articles are well-written and relevant, with minimal fluff. But this discount thing was new to me and I needed to do some research on it.
I was overwhelmed by the list. I noted a handful of things I buy on a regular basis, but I could easily see that it would behoove me to start getting in the habit of asking if a business had a senior discount, or I might miss out. That’s going to take a while to get used to, because like I said, my age is not something I really think about. Ever.
So Tuesday I happened to need a few things from the grocery store and headed over to grab them on my way home from work. I don’t typically do my shopping during the week, so I didn’t know how busy it might be. With the sun in my eyes as I parked and being in a bit of a hurry, I pulled into a parking stall that happened to be reserved for senior citizens.
Figuring I would only be there for no more than 10 minutes, I decided it was alright to break the rules just this once. Besides, this particular grocery store has over twenty specially designated parking stalls, which personally I find just a tad overdone, so my rebellious streak was also helping me justify my criminal action.
I ran in, grabbed my items and headed for the check out. The clerk paused at the end of ringing up my things and cautiously asked me if I might be 55 years old or older on this particular day. I was caught off guard by the question and laughed as I responded, “Well yes, actually, I AM!”
The response was a proud one, and yet I had mixed feelings about it. When the clerk began to explain that there was a discount that day for senior citizens, I really had a moment. For in that instance, I was a proud 55 year old… and yet also a senior citizen … and it kind of blew my mind.
I stepped back from the counter and began to laugh, almost uncontrollably. I was just so tickled at the contrast of the two thoughts that I couldn’t stop giggling. The fact that this day, Paula is considered a senior citizen, was probably the most hilarious thing I have contemplated for a very long time!
The gentleman next to me in line was also pretty amused. He was attractive, and I’d like to think he was laughing with me, but I’m not sure. I figured I’d best keep my mouth shut and get out of there before realizing the truth. I said my thank-you’s and headed out the door still smiling and giggling to myself.
As I came out to my car, I had the best laugh of all. It dawned on me that I hadn’t broken any rules whatsoever by parking in a senior citizen stall, and all my justifications were unnecessary. I did get a few odd looks from patrons as I walked along, laughing out loud all the way to my car.
I guess my opportunities for rebellion are becoming fewer as well. Oh well, it might be necessary to get a little more creative from here on out. I’ll have to take some time to relax in my rocking chair tonight and contemplate that for a while.
Originally published July 15, 2016