Well, it finally happened this Halloween – I officially became a senior citizen.
I realize there are differences of opinion when it comes to defining the true age of a “senior.” Some stores and organizations consider it to be 55. Others offer a discount when you’re 62. And the worst is AARP. I remember when I turned 50 and they sent me a membership card. Just looking at it gave me a panic attack.
But 65 is the no-doubt-about-it “you’re definitely a senior citizen now” age. I guess it’s because it has something to do with getting that golden ticket – the Medicare card.
I received a lot of reminders of my advancing age on my birthday this year. There were the cards that said things like, “You know you’re old when the candles cost more than your birthday cake” or “You know you’re old when you and your teeth no longer sleep together.”
And there were the usual jokes about the only men in my life being Ben Gay, Arthur-itis and Charlie Horse
I also received a few gag gifts. One was a statue of an elderly woman with everything on her body pointing south. She had one hand on her hip and her body wiggled back and forth (kind of like those old-fashioned hula-dancer statues people used to put on their car dashboards). On the base, it said, “I’m still hot! But now it comes in flashes.”
Another gift was a box that said “Senior Survival Kit” on the lid. It contained a tube of denture adhesive, a magnifying glass, antacid tablets, aspirin, wrinkle cream, laxative, hemorrhoid ointment and a pair of socks that said “left” and “right” on them.
One of my friends gave me a book that listed information about the year I was born. The average cost of a house back then was $7,450. Gas was 17 cents per gallon, a postage stamp was three cents, a loaf of bread was 14 cents, and a new car was about $1,400. Truman was the president and the 45-rpm record was just invented. Argyle socks were the latest fashion trend. Believe me, I felt older than dirt after reading that.
I have to confess, however, that when it comes to my age, I’m still in denial. I live in jeans, dye my hair and wear it long, and still dare to do things like ride on roller coasters and go zip-lining. But reality has a way of reminding me I’m not twenty-one any more…especially when it comes to my mail.
I can remember when the mail-order catalogs I received were from places like Victoria’s Secret, Frederick’s of Hollywood and The Beauty Boutique. Now they come from places that sell hearing aids, back braces, life insurance, liver-spot remover and motorized wheelchairs. I can get up in the morning feeling like a 30-year-old, but after I read my mail, I feel as if should be picking out my headstone.
On the bright side, I don’t have that “little old lady” voice yet. I was on the phone with a customer-service guy the other day and he happened to mention he was in his 30s. I told him I had underwear older than him and he laughed and said, “Yeah, right! I can tell by your voice you’re only about 35.”
I wanted to adopt him.
So I figure I can stay young if my only contact with people is by telephone.
Being seen in person, however, is another story. I can remember one year when I went to this Halloween haunted house. There were two volunteers stationed at the door who shouted a number between 1-4 before each person went inside. I finally asked one of the employees why.
“Well,” he said, “we do it to warn the actors inside what ages the people coming in are, so they can adjust their level of scariness accordingly. A number one is a young child, number two is a teen, number three is an adult, and number four is a senior citizen.”
“Oh, that makes sense,” I said.
When it was my turn to go inside, one of the guys at the door shouted, “Four plus! Maybe even five!” I was seriously tempted to clobber him.
But my friends have been trying to point out all of the benefits of being in my “golden” years. They reminded me I can get into state parks free of charge and I can get discounts at stores and movie theaters, among other places. And, of course, there is Medicare.
Benefits or not, I fully intend to continue to be in denial about my age for as long as possible.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel a sudden urge to go take a nap.