I’m at one of those stages in my life where I find myself again asking the question, “Am I, or am I not?”
On my thirteenth birthday, my parents congratulated me for becoming a teenager. I was a clumsy child and think they’re joviality was more because I’d lived that long without killing myself; but they said it with a smile so I rolled with it. I was overjoyed because now I was old enough to do teenager things like babysitting and staying home alone. Well, it was more like staying home and babysitting my younger brothers. During the next few years, I know I repeated the same question several hundred times. “Am I, or am I not?”
Although I’d lived long enough to be called a teenager, I still wasn’t old enough to do all of the things teenagers did, like dating, driving (legally), etc. I remember sitting in my room dreaming of a day when I would be “old enough.”
When I turned eighteen, I was elated at finally being considered an adult. Yea! I quietly congratulated myself for not killing my younger brothers during the babysitting phase of my life. I could vote for the leaders of our country, and even buy beer and wine. Wow, what a combination. Party on Garth!
Like a punch in the stomach, déjà vue struck with that stupid question. “Am I, or am I not?” I was now old enough to get my own bank loan to buy a car. I was even old enough to own a tavern (if I’d wanted one), but I wasn’t old enough to buy hard liquor, so what good would that do me. There was no Long Island Ice Tea for me at the pool side yet. I remember sitting in my car and dreaming of a day when I would be “old enough.”
The day finally came. I lived to the ripe old age of twenty-one, I smiled as I ordered my first hard liquor drink. I moaned for two days after trying to forget it. Once the hangover subsided, life was good. I had a full-time job, time restrictions, responsibilities, and debt. That nagging question never came back. Instead, I remember sitting in my house, writing out payments for bills, and dreaming of a day when I would be “old enough” to retire.
Today, I turned fifty-eight years old, but I’m not ready to retire yet. I did sit in front of the computer this morning browsing through retail sites for discounts. The ancient old question crawled its way up through the dirt. “Am I, or am I not?”
There are several sites with listings of eating establishments and retail stores offering senior citizen discounts. One of them has Denny’s Restaurant listed as having an exclusive menu for anyone fifty-five and over. I amused myself by thinking it’s probably similar to the kiddies’ menu, but with softer foods and no salt. If I go in with AARP’s endorsement, I could get 15% off my order! I love breakfast any time of day, but I don’t want it for my birthday dinner.
As I read the pages, the differences age requirements confounded me. I pictured myself walking into Burger King, or the Waffle House and asking for a senior citizen discount. They wagged their finger at me. “You’re not a senior citizen until you turn sixty.”
I blushed and replied, “Aw shucks fellas.”
At Boston Market, I imagine them laughing at me and saying, “Foolish child, you aren’t a senior citizen until you turn sixty-five!”
I’m going with the idea it’s because they wanted to flirt with me, rather than they don’t want a bunch of old people flooding their establishments on Wednesdays.
Tonight, my husband, Dave, took me to Ruby Tuesday’s for my birthday dinner. They didn’t have any senior discounts, but they do have a kid’s-eat-free on Tuesdays discount. Ah, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be young with no responsibilities again.
After a long moment of introspection on making it this far in life, I suppose I’m as old, or as young, as I want to be at any given time. I’ll still pursue those senior citizen discounts with a mindset of the money feels better in my pocket, rather than one of it’s because I’m old enough to get them.