I knew it would happen. And it did. With our daughter out of town, my husband Bill and I decided to go to see the new Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation movie. We both enjoy Tom Cruise’s acting and we looked forward to his latest adventure. I looked down at our movie tickets and there glaring up at me was the word “senior.” I have never been given a senior discount before. I double-checked both tickets and sure enough they were both “senior” tickets. It finally had arrived.
It’s amazing the thoughts that go through your mind in a split second. As the teenager prepared our popcorn, I took my finger and pointed to the offensive word and showed it to my husband. My first thought was “I’m not a senior yet.” Then “If our daughter was with us, maybe she wouldn’t have assumed… maybe.” I thought about asking the age of what constituted a “senior” and then decided not to. I didn’t want to embarrass her by saying, “Hey I’m not that old!” Then, with this “word” hitting me for the first time, my mind questioned, “Are you going to age gracefully?” We each took our popcorn and Coke, and didn’t ask about the senior age requirement.
But this didn’t stop me from surfing online after we got home from a terrific movie, to find out if we were indeed “seniors.” Well it depends. I’ve been getting AARP letters in the mail before I even turned fifty. “Must be some mistake.” But they kept coming. As far as AARP, this organization offers senior discounts once you turn 50. So, we qualify. AARP offers its 50 and older members a wide variety of discounts through affiliate businesses.With my brief online search, some discounts are available as soon as you turn 50, many others may not kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65.
But the junk mail that I thought was really over the top was a tie for the “buy your cemetery plot now” mail, and the medical alert alarm for seniors. Oh come on! I’m not there yet!
There is an online directory of US businesses that “offers discounts to people 50 years of age and older.” There it is: 50 years of age and older… a senior. The website states that it lists over “250,000 business locations, which include the contact information, discount information and other information necessary to receive each discount.”
Admitting that I just may have hit the beginning of the definition of the word “senior” is one thing. But asking for that discount for a cup of coffee is a totally different story. Would I cross over, and ask for a discount? Then I saw my answer in an online article: “Most movie theaters, plays, ballets, symphonies, museums, zoos and aquariums provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. And seniors over 62 are eligible to get the ‘America The Beautiful — Senior Pass’ for $10, which provides a lifetime of free access into all national parks and federal recreational lands.” Okay when I turn 62, I’m definitely asking for that discount.
But I still can’t get my mind around the fact that 50 equates a senior citizen. I’ll get used to it: the more ticket stubs and discounts we get with the word “senior” printed on them, the easier it will be. But does it mean I’m ready to enter this new world of being categorized as a senior? Not really. But I do want to age gracefully?: on my own terms; my husband and I will age together. “Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.” I like that. Still, it is kinda nice getting a discount on those movie tickets. But what about the popcorn?
Penny Cliff is the Chief Archivist at the Thomaston-Upson Archives and an adjunct faculty member of the History Department at Gordon State College and University in Barnesville.