Friday, March 07, 2008

I'll Give YOU Ten Dollars

Perhaps it was because I’ve been so busy that I am several months behind on my dye job schedule. There is a heck of a lot of grey on my head these days. Entirely too much.

It could have been because my two-year-old grandson, Luke, was (for once) actually acting two, instead of his usual four.

“No! I don’t want to!” he yelled while we were at the bank, hopping on the upholstered chair and pushing every button on my banker’s desk phone, and I suspect, on my banker as well.

It may be that I was just too tired from my ever-increasing job stress and my relentless battles with insomnia and with [is there a word for a chronic inability to eat healthily, drink plenty of water and exercise? If so, please insert here. If not, there should be.].

Maybe it was that I ran out quickly to run multiple errands and just threw on some sloppy clothing and forgot my usual lipstick and earrings.

Most probably, it was a combination of all of the above.

After our seemingly eternal visit to the bank, Luke and I headed to a local department store which shall remain nameless. I needed some picture frames, and Luke apparently needed some good aisle-running, with his frantic Mimi (that’s me!) running behind him. I was finally able to find the perfect frames for my grandsons’ artwork, headed to the check stand, and—that’s when it happened.

The young man at the check stand was pleasant enough. He smiled and said “good morning.” He did his job quickly and efficiently. He bagged the items. And then he took one more look at me and, in the ultra-slow motion that one sees in the movies at that O-So-Dramatic-And-Defining Moment, he pressed one more button. I turned, in that same slooooow motion, looked at the cash register screen, and my head began to pound. The screen said (in a particularly mocking font, if memory serves me) SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNT. Ten dollars had been discounted from my bill.

There are no words to convey the thousands of thoughts that assaulted me like the swarm of wicked flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. Here are just a few examples: “You look older than you are.” “You’re an old lady.” “Old.” “You’re old.” You’re really, really old.”

Mind you, I am well aware that 80 is the new 60; 60 is the new 40, etc., etc. And when someone makes a reference to a 75-year-old being in poor health, the first comment out of my mouth is “Goodness—but she [or he] is so young!” But, gentle reader, you must understand that I feel 17. I am, nine times out of ten, shocked when I look in the mirror and it tells me I am not 17.

But even my mirror had never dared called me a senior citizen. And it’s not that I mind growing old, especially considering the alternative, but really! Senior citizen? Already?

After taking a few moments to get the monkeys all settled down and on their way, I decided, mainly for Luke’s sake at that point, to look on the bright side. Ten dollars! How jolly and whimsical! It’s always fun to find a forgotten ten dollar bill in the pocket of a coat or sweater, isn’t it? It’s such a delightful surprise. I had ten free dollars! Yay! I felt a mental note being made: “Find out the minimum age to qualify for a senior citizen discount at this store.”

I managed to get through the rest of my day, going through the motions until I could find some time alone to conduct my top secret investigation. Finally, in the wee hours of the night, I consulted the internet. My shaking fingers typed out those dreaded words—senior citizen discount—and the name of the infamous department store.

How much older did I look to the young man at the check stand? I’m 53. The senior citizen discount begins at 62.

You do the math. I have a date with a bottle of hair dye and a pair of rubber gloves.