I larked to my favorite thrift store last week to search for some perfect garment that would change my life and fortune and bring me ultimate happiness, all for less than $20. It’s the seeking that matters, after all, not the finding. I generally get a lot of pleasure from these jaunts.
But it was not a good day at the second-hand store. It was as sad and old and gray inside the building as out, and the inside was packed with sad old gray people who’d been driven there by necessity rather than whimsy.
Wednesday is Senior Discount Day.
I don’t pay attention to the loud recurring sale announcement until the refrain, “age 55 and above!” finally registers: ARC will soon discount me and peg me into its Senior Citizen pigeonhole. Me?
Finding a like-new pair of BØRN shoes in my weird size for $4.99 does not fully offset my horror at this.
That morning, I’d driven through a fast food place to get a small coffee. The clerk at Window #1 charged me 53¢ — I figured some sort of promotion was going on. Nope. When I got to Window #2 to pick up my drink, the perky young thing smiled and said, “Here’s your senior coffee, Ma’am!”
I said small, not senior! And I had to say it several times when ordering, since the garbled speakerphone distorted spoken language beyond comprehension. So some sad brow-beaten clerk decided I was another crusty old codger demanding a discount.
Did I create a noble fuss and pay an extra dollar? Nope. I kept the buck, at the cost of my dignity and integrity. McDonald’s bought me cheap.
Fact is, first times aren’t usually fabulous. I knew something had fundamentally shifted the first time I was called “Ma’am.” Yes, that night I was buying diapers and baby wipes and had “matron” plastered all over me, but I missed being a Miss. I went home and wept bitter tears (post-partum depression may have had something to do with that). I wonder — will I weep the first time I’m called a senior citizen?
Much will depend upon hormones and the phase of the moon and favorable chi and water retention and negative ions and barometric pressure and whether or not I’ve remembered my vitamin D and if the deep pillow creases in my face happen to be gone by noon. I’ve given up delusions of self-determination.
Two by two aboard the ARC, I end up behind an elegant older woman with manicured nails and beautifully coiffed hair and an affluent air who’s buying a big complicated assortment of junk. Scowling, she gives the struggling clerk hell about her discounted $17.23 total, peering over her fashionable prescription reading glasses and shaking her head and insisting that everything on the receipt be gone through again to make certain she isn’t being somehow gypped out of a quarter somewhere.
Meanwhile, a faded woman wearing brave bright lipstick beside me chats pleasantly about how nice it is to have found some good warm socks so cheap. I feel terrible, trapped between these two extremes. It isn’t quite hell, but makes for a very unpleasant version of purgatory.
I see that the gate to hell has been discovered by archeologists in Turkey! I would dearly love to see us start using it – a quick handy way to dispose of the myriad low-life pedophiles and rapists and murderers who dominate the news. “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” wrote the Greek geographer Strabo (64 BCE — 24 CE).
Bring on those animals! No electric chairs or lethal drug cocktails or supreme worldly court hearings needed. God and Satan can both employ bouncers at the door to catch any errors in human judgment (God doesn’t want to lose good folks, and Satan doesn’t want to find do-gooders spreading bad influences). Questions of capital punishment will no longer be something we have to sort out, and we’ll rid the earth of pestilence.
I’d personally enjoy pushing in the teenage girls who just shoved an 89-year-old woman into the trunk of her Buick and left her there for two days while joy-riding around. After her ordeal, Margaret Smith of Milford, Delaware, had a message for her assailants: “You got to be kind to other people if you want somebody to be kind to you.”
Me? I think those that ain’t kind got to be kicked in the ass straight through those gates of hell. And sooner, rather than later. I’m soon to be a senior citizen; what the hell — I can say what I think. There have to be some perks for age (besides that 50% off at the second-hand store).