I can’t tell you exactly when it happened. Probably it occurred sometime between that first chin hair and my transition to stretch-fit jeans. But somewhere along the way I started to look my actual age, as opposed to behaving like it. This became painfully evident one Sunday morning while I was having breakfast at a place I now call “I-STOP,” as in “I stopped eating there.”
“What’ll you have,” a waitress asked me.
“I’d like the carb carcinogen combo,” I replied.
“And you, sir?” she said turning to my husband. With her pen she scrawled something on a notepad the size of an index card.
“I’ll have the monster meal, with the eggs scrambled,” he replied.
“Oh, doesn’t mine come with eggs, too?” I inquired. If so, I needed to let her know that I didn’t want a sunny runny embryo on my plate.
The server looked at me for a split second before she answered. “No. There aren’t any eggs on the Senior Plate.”
I froze momentarily and tried to rewind the audio. Did I just hear her say SENIOR? One glance at my spouse confirmed that I had. He now appeared to be searching for a safe escape route.
I checked my attire, but that helped explain nothing. Am I not wearing flare-leg jeans? Is this not a hip looking shirt? Aren’t my earrings dangly and sterling? What is wrong with this woman? Do I look like a blue haired, penny-saving, don’t-bring-me-none-of-that-boysenberry-syrup senior customer? And how come she didn’t ask hubby if he’d ordered the senior portion?
I felt my face grow flush. Or maybe it was just another hot flash. Did I forget to apply my concealer this morning? Can she see my roots from where she’s standing? How would that be possible, given the lighting in here is one notch up from an appliance bulb?
“I didn’t order a senior meal,” I politely corrected.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Then, yes. How do you want your eggs?”
Briefly I considered saying, “On your face will be just fine.”
We didn’t talk about it while I sawed at my cold French toast and hubby chased congealing hashbrowns across his plate with a fork. It felt as though something tragic had just happened, something so fresh and raw that to speak of it would have been almost life-threatening, especially had the first comment come from my baby-faced partner’s lips.
We paid no further mind to the rude, undiplomatic and obviously sight-challenged waitress. Though I might have enjoyed it, it simply wouldn’t have been right to have made fun of someone who warranted her own telethon.
The drive home from the restaurant was exceptionally quiet. Minor chitchat dominated what little conversation took place. But when I entered the comforts of our suddenly geriatric looking home, I turned to my spouse and said, “Did you hear that waitress call me a senior? Am I really a senior now?”
My man bowed his head and stared at the floor tile before replying, “Yes.”
“I am?” I cried.
“I’m afraid so.”
“Gosh. I didn’t think we looked like seniors,” I said slowly succumbing to reality. “I mean, she didn’t even mention the senior meal to you.”
“I know! And I was hoping she would, too,” said my breakfast companion, “because I wanted the discount!” He thought for a second and then with a grin added, “You know, I got carded this week when I bought a bottle of wine.” He gave a conceited horselaugh.
If I’d had a walker, I’d have clobbered him with it.
I paced the room for a bit. And then I remembered something about space travel, which, on the surface, might not seem related to feeling old. However, given the way my mind works, this was relevant. “Well, Einstein had a theory about time and travel,” I said. “He believed that if people could just go fast enough—faster than the speed of light—they could stop or even reverse the aging process.”
Hubby furiously churned his feet and pumped his arms.
“What on earth are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m trying to go that fast!” he explained. Then he clutched his chest and gasped. “But I think I better go lie down.” He heaved a deep breath and sighed. “I wore myself out.”
I nodded. “Yeah, it’s not safe for seniors to overdo it.”
Diana Estill is the author of Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life.