I was perfectly okay with turning 40. It happened last fall, and I didn’t need to dye my hair and try to look 24. (See my post “40 is the new 30.”) I didn’t need to wear yoga pants and use text lingo out loud. I didn’t need to be the cool mom or know who the people on the front of tabloids were. Maybe I was a little proud of my lack of vanity. Maybe I needed to be tested. But could anyone have passed this vanity test?
I pulled into the parking lot of my beloved local grocery store and exclaimed “SMH, it’s senior discount day. I’ll never find a parking space.” It wasn’t easy, and more than one senior stole my space, but I persevered. In the checkout line, and wearing my blue sweatshirt and baseball cap, I chatted with the lady in front of me about whether or not the impulse-buy beef jerky was chocolate covered. “Well, there’s chocolate covered bacon now, so you never know,” I said wisely.
She paid, and then it was my turn. And remember, I was perfectly okay with turning forty. I was okay with the fact that when American Idol started, I was already too old to audition. I was okay with the fact that I’ve probably missed my chance to be in the Olympics.
But here’s what I was not okay with.
The cashier, a woman about my age, with a apologetic expression, said, “I’m sorry, I’m new – do you…qualify for the senior discount?”
It turns out I do have a teensy bit of vanity. While I simply said, “No I do not,” I thought, “Does being new make you incapable of guessing someone’s age within fifteen years? Don’t you think I would have asked for my discount if I wanted it? Was my banter about the chocolate covered bacon so full of elderly wisdom that you ignored my smooth skin and the ends of my hair which aren’t gray yet?”
And then I left, and I thought, “I should have said yes and gotten the ten percent discount.” But I wasn’t old enough to be wise enough to do that. And then I got home and checked the store’s website to make sure that their definition of a senior citizen was indeed 55. No, I was not old and wise enough to not do that.
It was 60.
And then I thought, “My husband’s going to leave me. I have one foot in the grave. I’m really not going to the Olympics, am I. Maybe I should have applied for the job of the grandma who advertises for Kozy Shack Pudding.”
So a tip for cashiers everywhere. Let people ask you for the senior discount. Because it’s hard enough getting over being your real age.