Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It Truly Was a Senior Moment

So here is what happened. My lovely fiancé, aka my beautiful mystery companion — which is a line from a Jackson Browne tune — and I were slated to attend the Maya Angelou lecture at Northeast Texas Community College last Friday night. What a treat, this famed poet and lecturer here in East Texas. Alas, Ms. Angelou became ill and postponed her appearance until April. As a consolation prize, we headed to the movies.

I bought the tickets while my BMC was engaged in conversation with a couple of acquaintances that had spotted her. We rarely go to the movies, being recluses when not at work. We prefer to rent or buy DVDs. So I studied the prices and calculated that, at $8.75 each, this was going to set me back $17.50 for two tickets to the evening feature.

When the attendant gave me back $7 from my twenty-dollar bill I questioned her.

“Did you give me back too much money?”

She shook her head.

“Is there a special tonight?” She moved on to the next customer.

I ambled off to my BMC and wondered aloud about how the tickets had only cost me $6.50 each instead of $8.75, and that I couldn’t figure out why. I got one of those “Oh, honey” looks that we clueless males get from time to time from the women who love us despite our cluelessness.

“She gave you the senior discount,” my BMC said.

I dove into the pocket of my sports jacket for the ticket stubs and pulled them out. Sure enough, in all-caps, they both said: SENIOR. My immediate instinct was to go back up to the ticket window and protest. But the line was too long, and the movie was about to start. So I spent the next several minutes on the way to our seats whining to my BMC about the grave injustice that had been foisted upon me. A senior? Me? Are these people blind? Where is the manager? Can I file some kind of age-discrimination lawsuit?

My beloved squeezed my hand. “It’s because I wasn’t with you,” she said. “Then they would have known better.”

Well, that is true. Although my BMC is only 30 months younger than me, she looks easily a decade younger. I figure by the laws of osmosis this makes me look younger when we are together. Since she was off talking to her friends when I was making the transaction, I surely looked like some lonely old codger buying tickets for himself and his unseen aged mother. So I was given the senior discount out of sympathy.

So it is her fault. That’s my story, etc.

My BMC pointed out that most folks would appreciate having saved $4.50 on their movie tickets by mistakenly being labeled a “senior.” (For the record, I am 54. I don’t know what this particular theater defines as a senior, but any business that defines folks at 54 as a senior is desperate for business, in my humble view. Of course, maybe I look 65 or older. That’s the scary part. But the attendant never asked my age, which is even more depressing.)

I don’t appreciate saving money at the expense of being prematurely being labeled a senior citizen. But then a pair of events occurred over the next two days that had me wondering if I truly were losing it:

• I used the wrong first name for one of our Saturday columnists when laying out the opinion page. When I e-mailed him to apologize and explained I had mixed his name up with a long-dead weekly newspaper editor with a similar-sounding last name, he kindly said I had been calling him Paul for a couple of years, off and on. His name is Frank. Sheesh.

• I made a cup of tea Sunday night. Without thinking, I then pulled the lid off to empty the pot. A cloud of boiling steam came out and scalded three fingers on my right hand. I knew better and spent the next several hours in pretty severe pain until the aforementioned BMC via telephone saved me by Googling a home remedy. Remember this, in case it happens to you. Yellow mustard in a poultice of paper towels will ease the pain, though it might take an hour or so.

So maybe I am inching toward senior status faster than I anticipated. Just ask Paul, I mean Frank — or my scalded fingers.
Originally published February 28, 2010

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