Last night I went out to eat with some very familiar company and we ate at a place that I haven’t eaten at in a while. The meal itself went well, the conversation was enjoyable and the food was tasty. But what was most remarkable and striking was that when the waiter filled out the two tickets, both of them gave a senior discount. I was a bit puzzled by this, and noticed it fairly quickly, but decided to roll with it because who doesn’t like a good discount on one’s food. When we all went to pay for the bill, I wondered if the cashier would ask any questions about my having received the senior discount when I paid, but no, there wasn’t even a joke or a comment or any sort of question about it, I was simply billed at the senior discount and made my way out of the restaurant. But even as I left, I had a lot of questions to ask about the discount received.
As I write this, I am only a month and a half removed from my 38th birthday. I’m not sure how old the senior’s discount is at the place we ate at, but I’m pretty sure it’s not 35 or even 40. Even with my relatively recent Civil War-era red beard that I have been rocking since about June, I don’t think I look that much older than my actual age. It’s not a white beard, after all, which would at least make sense as far as a sign of somewhat advanced age. Be that as it may, there are only a few reasons why receiving a senior discount would make sense. Perhaps, given that most of the restaurants for this particular chain have been closed, the wait staff is in some sort of perverse mood to give senior discounts to just about anyone that looks remotely adult as a way of currying favor with their potential market, with the assumption that such discounts will make people more interested in eating there. Perhaps the waiter genuinely thought that anyone who would rock the sort of 19th century facial hair that I do, and hangs out with seniors, must be older than he looks, especially if he walks with a bit of a limp (as I often do). Still, not a lot of these reasons make sense. I suppose I should just take the discount and let it rest, but that’s not really something I can do very well.
There are a variety of ways that one knows one has gotten to be somewhat old. The signs of aging tend to come upon someone gradually. Sometimes the body starts to fall apart and reminds one that one is no longer a spring chicken, which started happening to me about the same time I could rent a car without a hassle, in my mid 20’s. Sometimes it happens when one is no longer asked for one’s ID when one goes to a bar, because no one could possibly think that one is under 21. That started happening to me before the age of 30, and the last time that anyone asked me for my ID was when I went to a Young The Giant concert and wanted to go upstairs for a seat because my feet were killing me after having stood in line to get in and there were no seats downstairs because everyone there was supposed to stand up the entire time and dance to the concert, apparently, something that I am sadly not well equipped to do. Some people feel relatively young until they get their first AARP magazine (which apparently happens at the age of 50 from what I have seen, and something that is at least a few years off for me, thankfully). But alas, one of the signs of aging has hit me, my first senior discount. And I don’t know whether I should be happy to be looking forward to future meal discounts or upset that even before my 40th birthday I look old enough that someone could possibly think that I am a senior citizen. I feel old.