Requested a dollar coffee at a Burger King last night and the Gidget-like youngster asked if she could serve a “Senior.”
No, I replied, not wanting anything more or less then what’s on a “dollar menu” for cup I could refill, if need be. I handed over $1.06 in change, placing it carefully on the counter in front of the short blonde teenage girl. “It’s 50 cents,” she quipped, all bright and full of sunshine. “It’s a senior cup.”
Pulling back more than half of my change, I wasn’t sure if should thank her, correct her, or yell at her. I’m no senior, no where near retirement age, not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s my hair. Gotta be all that gray I’ve been getting lately. Too much chlorine in the swimming pool water. Might even be taking its toll on my face, giving me that Clint Eastwood look. Not the young one, the older one with rugged character lines all over. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.
I’ve been mistaken for a senior citizen? It shook me to the core. Me, who still sports a streak of juvenile delinquency in his meditative bones. Still mistrust most people over 30, harkening back to the ’60s philosophy. (Don’t trust most folks under that age, but I attribute that to an X-Generation playing Heavy Metal while going to hell in a handbasket.)
I’m robust. Swam 36 lengths in a pool that very morning. A half-mile. Swam it again before sitting before this ancient word processor in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s branch in Andorra today. It’s where a lot of people my age congregate. My age? Wait a minute. They look older for some reason. More weathered. Almost like survivors of some cataclysmic adventure.
We have aged despite the believe of immortality for the Baby Boomers. I was on the cusp of that group, barely breaking in being born in 19#8. Damn key pad. Number won’t type write (right?) That’s what happens when you hit the big Forty. It’s all down hill from there. Hearing and sight goes first. Most of us develop bad backs, in the lower lumbar section.
Tastes change. Literally. You can’t taste the essence of things like you could before. The aroma of Thunderbird or Ripple wines. Chili-smothered hot dogs with extra onions and relish. Pizza pie left out on the kitchen table the night before for breakfast the following morning.
Senior? I could still jump out of an airplane my next birthday just as George Bush the father did on reaching a milestone age. Can still sail in a boat like a robust Walter Cronkite. What’s that? You say he passed away? How about a young and virile Paul Newman? You say he’s now giving a “live” performance of “Somebody Upstairs Likes Me” for You-Know-Who?
I took my 50-cent coffee, shuffled to a computer terminal, cracked open a hardboiled egg I had snuck in after putting away my leather change purse. Adjusting my eye ware, I don’t see how anyone could ever mistake me for someone senior. Do you?