It started when I went to McDonald’s for a coffee over 15 years ago. The young kid at the register said “25 cents please.” Startled, I handed over a quarter and looked around the posters on the windows looking for the special on coffee. Nothing. Puzzled, I sat down, started to sip, and my eye caught the receipt, containing the horrible phrase: “Senior Coffee.” I wasn’t even 50!
Next it was at a movie theatre: “$10 please.” Wait, admission is $7.50 each, so for two that should be…OK, sure, I get it, here’s $10. Without even asking, I was getting away with paying less than full money’s worth, compensation for having avoided the early death lottery.
I started getting comfortable with the notion. For some reason though, I hated the words “senior discount.” Instead I coined my own term: “Gray Hair Discount.” When asked whether I was a senior, I’d just point to my silver mound of hair, and ka-ching – out popped the discount.
There’s more to turning 65 than discounts. My good buddy and avid reader Randy recently turned 65 while on a flight across the ocean. Since he happened to be occupying the left seat of the cockpit, this required that he immediately exit the pilot’s compartment and take his place in the cabin. No one gets to fly airliners at age 65. Care for some warm nuts?
Turning 65 also means medicare, medicare advantage plans, medicare supplement plans, medicare Rx plans, Part A, Part B, Part D – is it really this complicated? Or I am just getting old?
I don’t think anyone in their 50’s feels like a senior citizen, yet as soon as you turn 50, the AARP somehow finds you and sends you pictures of healthy, virile, active men and women with grey hair. Sign up and you get even more discounts! And magazines with more gray-haired people, including starlets you remember lusting over when you were a teenager. They have grey hair now too, but the wrinkles are all photoshopped out.
In your 50’s, even your early 60’s, you can fool yourself that you aren’t a senior. You’re still middle-aged, getting older, but not a senior citizen. My dad was definitely a senior citizen at that age, but not me.
When you hit 65, it’s all over. You cannot deny it any longer. You are the very definition of a senior citizen.
I just turned 65. I am a senior citizen. There – I said it! But I still don’t believe it!
On reaching 65, a male born in the 1950’s no longer faces an early death. Too late for that. Any death from now on is timely, he led a full life, he beat the odds, he lived beyond life expectancy, wasn’t it nice that he lived as long as he did?
It’s just the passing of another day, another year, yet this is a bigger milestone than anything since turning 16 and becoming able to drive (and fly an airplane solo). Less fun, but at least as meaningful.
Oh sure, they say, growing old is better than the alternative. But really, how do you know? It isn’t like someone tried both, and came back and said this is definitely better, keep on trucking, don’t do that other thing. We just accept the notion, realizing that the aches and pains will not dissipate, the sharpness of thinking will not improve, and the ability to make wild, passionate love all night long might survive as a memory of earlier times but that’s about it.
So we persist, thankful that we made it this far, making the best of every day, doing what we can to ignore the side effects of living life this long.
© 2017 Ken Fransen
The writer is a retired attorney who now travels North America, still living in denial that he is now a senior citizen.