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The Next Rite of Passage in the Game of Life

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I don’t know if I should be ashamed or proud.

I’ve so far survived birth, life with what I once thought was a dysfunctional family but now appears to be more normal than most, high school, disco and the embarrassing accompanying wardrobe, marriage, young children, adolescent children with drivers’ licenses and the requisite tickets and accidents, two more high school graduations, one college graduation, an empty nest, and a business floundering in a horrible economy. The only things left are grandchildren, old age, and death.

Well, old age is officially upon me, leaving just grandchildren and my demise as the next goals in line.

Yesterday I asked for (and received) a senior discount.

While I am rounding the bend to the middle of my fifth decade and was for one year a member of AARP (I dropped them when I realized their real mission in life is to lobby Congress for their insurance business – besides, they weren’t doing me any favors for my money), I have never asked for a senior discount. I’m not a “senior” and never considered myself one. Back in the day when I was a child, “seniors” were over 60. Heck, I think they were over 65! Somewhere in the last thirty years, the low bar for the senior designation has slipped down to 50.


It seemed like only yesterday when I was carded for alcohol. On a regular basis! In my forties, even!

My husband discovered senior discounts this year. During fairer weather, he enjoys a game of golf with an older guy who sells us used cars. Just for asking for a senior discount, he can get a round of golf with a cart for $20, weekdays on a nice course. My husband is all about saving money, so this is right up his alley.

He can easily pull off asking for a senior discount. Although he's younger than I by nine months, my husband’s hair is more salt than pepper these days. It is, in fact, completely silver at the temples. (He claims his Scandinavian genes are making a late entrance and he is really blond. Yeah. Right.) If hair is an indication, he could have asked for a senior discount years ago.

True, I occasionally dye my hair – not to hide my age, but because I like red, the redder the better – but I have neither the inclination nor the time to subject myself to a regular hair dye these days. The last time I colored was in February before the writers’ conference, so any vestige of Garnier #49 has long departed. What remains is a couple of gray strands at the top of my head that irritate me. I would much rather have a nice, thick swath of gray there, but I can’t tell my head what to do.

Back to the senior discount: yesterday, I went to a toy store I hadn’t visited since my children were very young, looking for a Christmas present for a newly inherited nephew. As I stood in line behind an older couple happily purchasing a Barbie and enough accoutrements to drive the child’s parents insane on Christmas morning, I heard them asking about a senior discount.

“You have to be 50,” the perky clerk replied.

So what the heck? Toys aren’t cheap. When it was my turn to check out, I inquired about the senior discount.

“Ten percent. But you’re not a senior, are you?”

I whipped out my driver’s license. I’ve been one for almost four years.

The clerk apologized, admitting the senior discount is a sensitive subject for some shoppers. They don’t broach it unless asked. “You don’t look 5-,” she said cheerfully.

Like that wise old senior, my father, says: Money is money, honey.

I’m not sure if I’ll use my newfound weapon of senior discount on a regular basis. Maybe I’ll save it for when I get closer to the point of grandchildren or death.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • You forgot the benchmarks of assisted living and Depends. What’s not to look forward to?

    I have a close relative (I’ll not mention who because she’d be mortified) who got her face ‘done’ a couple of months ago. People now tell me how great my sister looks-and she does look like my sister. She actually looks younger than I do. I may have to get ‘done’ just to set the space/time continuum in my world back to rights.

    I’ve started living life more Dylanesque, not going gently. Suddenly I’m counting the things I need to get done, those goals I put off thinking that I still had so much time. I have to admit that I’m happier for that. Age allows us an opportunity to put ourselves first without guilt. I’ve taken care of everyone else my whole life, I’m going to focus on becoming the woman I wanted to be from here out. Without apology.

    You’re at the height of your blossoming. Enjoy it. And don’t take senior’s discounts. They seem innocuous, but they poison the mind into accepting inevitable defeat. Your mind tells you how young you are. Listen to it.

  • Ruvy

    According to my wife, her father talked about nearly 80 for the last forty years. Now, he is 83, a widower, going blind – he doesn’t talk about his age at all.

    Joanne – take advantage of that senior’s discount all you can – and enjoy the compliments on your looks for as long as you get them….

    You don’t look more than 42.

  • Enjoyed your article and identified with most of it! My wife, like you, went with the fire engine red hair thing, too!
    My father said you weren’t old until you hit the next decade. He continued saying that until he got to be 92, then he said, “I’m too close to a hundred.”