Most people can’t point to the day and time they turned old, but I can. I can’t remember the exact date, but I remember the day very vividly. My lovely wife was walking up the driveway from the mailbox, and she was grinning. Normally, she has a sweet smile, but this one was evil. She had a gleam of wicked delight in her eye as she handed me an envelope, and said, (a little too cheerfully) “This is for you.” I looked at the letterhead, and gasped. It couldn’t be, not me! But there it was in cold black and white, my name. And the return address read; THE AARP. “What the hell”, I thought, stunned, “I’m only 50 for crying out loud.” I don’t remember exactly what the words said, but I know exactly what the spirit said; Congratulations, you’re old! It was my official invitation to join the same damn organization my FATHER, who is old, belonged to. Now I was being invited to come down and live at Old Geezerville with him. Plus I had to pay dues for the privilege.
Actually, I had seen this day coming. I had, some years earlier, gone in to a K Mart to purchase some trinket or something, and the bright (as bright as they get at K Mart) young man behind the counter asked me if I had my card. I didn’t use a credit card so I said no, and wrote a check. When I handed him my driver’s license for I.D. he glanced at it and went “oops” under his breath. Not quite far enough under because I heard him, and since you don’t have to call me twice to dinner I figured out what oops meant. “Just what kind of card were you referring to?” I politely asked.
“Uh, it’s Tuesday, and Senior Citizens can use their discount cards today.”
“And how old do you have to be to get one of those cards?” I asked, again politely and well under control.
“Uh, 55” he mumbled.
“Well, I’ll apply for one, IN 10 YEARS!” I said as I huffed out in my best, insulted shopper mode. I went home and related this incident to my before mentioned lovely wife, who thought the incident should be treated with lots of mirth. It was mirth that lasted well into the spring.
A year or two later my wife and I (yes, I’m surprised she’s still in this story too) were shopping in a game store for Christmas. Now this wasn’t a toy store, it was a game store, with board games designed for older, college age kids. The rules for these things are printed in volumes 1-5, so we’re not talking Chutes and Ladders here. I found one my son would like, and went up to the counter to purchase it. The young man behind the counter (who had probably been fired from K Mart) asked me “Ah, buying a game for your grandson?” There was a sudden gush of wind as my still lovely wife went bolting out the door, looking like she had just swallowed a cat. My son was just barely reaching the recommended age require for this game, and this bozo thought I had a grandson that age?
“Yeah, it is” I calmly replied “I had his father when I was 8.” Actually I never said this, but I did think of it later, and it would have made a real snappy reply. But at the time I was more concerned for my dear wife, whom I thought was going to burst a vein from laughing so hard out in the car.
I guess it’s the beard. I’ve had one for 33 years; my mirthful wife has never seen me without it. It has a touch of gray in it, if you think white looks like gray. One day while I was subbing in Mr. Peters kindergarten class, one of his students said to me; “I know who you are. You’re Mr. Peter’s grandfather!” This would have made me about 80. “No honey, I’m not. Now why don’t you go play tag with the wall?”
Standing in line at the bank during the holidays some kid behind me said; “Look Daddy, it’s Santa Claus.” I shot him a glance that said “You better be talking about just the beard kid,” then mentally took him off my good little boy list.
I blame my wife. She doesn’t want me to shave or color my beard because when we’re out walking together it makes her look younger. People ask me if she’s my daughter. “Yes she is” I reply, unhurt by the implications, “I just wish I could remember who the mother was.”