I was in Seattle last week and ate in the Dennys Restaurant where I became a senior citizen.
When you’re 16 years old, it’s flattering if someone thinks you’re older. I remember a long ago airplane ride when I was returning to school. The flight attendant approached and handed me a list of cocktails available.
“Would you like to purchase a drink?”
I felt like gushing, “Uh, uh, (giggle) I’m only 16. I can’t drink.” But I was incredibly cool, and casually looked over the list a minute then shook my head and said, “No. Nothing today.”
Fast forward 38 years. My husband and I were killing time before leaving on an Alaskan cruise, and we decided to have a late breakfast at Dennys. The waitress approached to take our order. She turned to me.
“What can I get you?”
“I’ll have two eggs, scrambled, bacon, and whole wheat toast. Could I also get a small orange juice?”
“Certainly. And I'll apply the Senior Citizens’ discount to this.”
My mouth dropped open as I looked up at her. “What?” I looked across the table at my husband and saw he was starting to laugh.
“The Senior Citizen’s discount,” she repeated again. “Don’t you want it?”
“How old do you have to be to get the discount?” my husband asked with a big grin.
“Well be sure to give it to me,” he said.
“I’m only 54,” I sputtered. “I won’t be 55 until tomorrow!”
“Well, I’ll give it to you today as a birthday present,” she said smiling benevolently. She took my husband’s order, and then briskly walked away. I’m sure she thought the $1.50 discount she had just given me one day early made my day.
I sat there bewildered . . . stunned. The happy shine of the upcoming Alaskan cruise had just been smacked out of the sky.
When I looked at my husband again, he was doing that quiet, shaking laugh across the table.
“Happy birthday to you,” he sang.
“Oh shut up!”