Getting the senior ‘dis’count

Mbah Gotho, of Indonesia, died on May 1. His relatives claim to have documentation that he was 146 years old, but that’s in dispute. I saw pictures of Mbah. He looked much younger, like 128.

I thought of Mbah the other day at the grocery store.

It was a beautiful, early May afternoon. The sky was clear and blue, people were smiling, and flowers were in bloom. Above me birds chirped their songs of joy. They were slightly off key, but nothing I couldn’t live with.

Inside, I was about to pay for my item, when the cashier casually asked, “Are you 55 or over?”

This is a perfectly reasonable question to someone who is 60, and complimentary if you’re 75. But I’m 48.

“No,” I said, dejectedly. This was followed by 20 seconds of tense silence, the kind I imagine felt by the non-pregnant woman who gets asked, “When are you due?”

Not only am I not 55, I’m seven years less, which is to say, this checker feels I am (at the minimum) 15 percent older than I really am. I’ve never been accused of being 15 percent better at anything.

She seemed to sense her insult. Then again, my loud sobs may have given it away.

She tried to make up for it by telling me to have a nice day, but by then my grief had turned into anger. All I could think about was if it was un-Christian to pray for a swarming army of angry beavers to attack and destroy a Grand Junction grocery store.

It was “Senior Discount Day,” but I was only buying one $8 can of coffee. How does the store benefit? If I qualify, they receive 80 cents less revenue. If I’m under 55, they’ve ruined a customer’s day and will get destroyed by a swarming army of angry beavers.

Next stop on my insult tour was — not surprisingly — the liquor store, where the cashier recognized my last name from the debit card. She happened be vaguely acquainted with my brother, who is just 17 months younger than I. She mentioned his name, asking if I was “his dad or something?”

Or something.

My last errand was supposed to be to the bank, but by then I had given up. I was worried the teller would tell me I resembled a guy she saw in the news named “Mbah.”

Depressed, I drove home. You know what a vain, middle-aged guy needs at a time like this? A caring, loving sympathetic spouse such as mine, that’s what.

So I walked in and told Marie about the cashiers’ insults.

She said it was about the funniest thing she’d ever heard, then asked why I didn’t accept the 10 percent discount.

Besides these two female cashiers, other women have, on two separate occasions, asked if my son and daughter were my grandchildren. The second time is when I started sniffing paint. That’s also when I started to notice the double-standard. A woman can ask a man if he’s over 55, but if he asks her a question about her appearance, say, “Are you over 300 pounds?” it’s considered rude. (And life-threatening).

All of this is to say, I’m ready to go all-in on the cosmetic enhancements: hair dye, face lift, Botox, eye lift and collagen in my lips, which I think is only for women, but I’m that desperate.

I wonder if 146-year-old Mbah was comfortable with looking older? I imagine so. After all, he turned 55 years old way back in 1925. He’s been offered a senior discount for 91 years. Ninety-eight if he shopped at the Horizon Drive Safeway.

I don’t want to be asked about a senior savings program. I have this delusion where I’m still young, and I’m clutching it tightly. My youth, my life, my very being, is not worth abandoning for a little 10 percent discount on groceries, unless maybe if I’m buying steak or toilet paper in bulk.

This vanity is sure to have an expiration date. One day, I’ll reach an age where I’m comfortable being asked if I want the senior discount.

I’m not sure exactly what age that is, but I’m thinking 146.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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