During my childhood, my parents started getting senior discounts at restaurants and retail stores when they turned 50. That was considered the start of the “Golden Years,” making them eligible for the Honor Menu and special coupons or daily deals (“Seniors, Get 10% off every Tuesday!”) At 10, this made sense, because 50-year-old people were, well, old. (Flashback to 1973, sitting in the high school cafeteria one day with a large group of kids, talking about what we’d all be doing in the millennium year of 2000. I distinctly remember thinking, “Yippee! I’ll be in my 40s and I’ll never have to diet again. It won’t matter what I look like because I’ll be old and no one will care anymore.” Yes, I’m shallow. Don’t judge.)
But now, with the greatest percentage of the national population already over 50, restaurants and stores are raising the age requirements, in an attempt to reduce the number of discounts they give away each day. Many establishments now require their customers to be 55 or even 60 to qualify for any type of senior discount. The only way to know for sure is to ask. The first few times I did this, I admit, I was a little embarrassed. A senior discount? ME?? But when I realized you could get a $12 meal for 8 bucks, what the hell, I was in. Now, to Kenny’s mortification, I ask everywhere. (Of course, I naturally assume that there will be at least a random gasp of disbelief on some unknown clerk’s face that I could be old enough for this, but as they seem to get younger and I get, let’s say, not younger, the gap in our ages becomes less debatable each year. Awesome.)
So I’m at Taco Bell for lunch one day, and I casually mentioned to the 12-year-old cashier that I just might be eligible for their senior discount, but I wasn’t sure what the age requirement was. A tiny piece of my ego (at this point still intact, blissfully unaware of what was coming) thought she might respond with “Oh, no, not you. You’re not a senior!” Yeah, that particular fantasy went the way of ever seeing 112 pounds again except in passing. She giggled (yep, giggled) and chirped brightly, “No worries, ma’am. I believe you! That’ll be $4.75!”
My next thought was whether or not the State had a senior discount on jail terms if I stabbed her through the heart with my tiny plastic fork.