‘Old’ and a little grumpy

Last week, I finally gave in. I didn’t like it much, and I’m still a little grumpy. But I did it.

I’ve finally acknowledged that I’m getting old. I signed up for Medicare.
I pretty much had to because my 65th birthday is coming up next month (this is the point where you’re supposed to say I don’t look a day over 55), and that’s when you sign up for the program.
My sister has been bugging me about it for the last year, scaring me with stories about people who didn’t sign up before their birthday and lost most of their benefits forever. The last part isn’t true, of course, but I think she knows I would have put it off as long as I could.
For years, I have resisted any attempt to label me a “senior citizen” or a “golden-ager” or any of those other euphemisms that marketers come up with to avoid the word “old.”
And even though there are people that I exchange old-joke birthday cards with, I only think they’re funny because they’re not true. Or at least, they didn’t used to be.
Anyhow, the mailings started coming from the AARP about the time I turned 50. At that point, I wasn’t even willing to admit that I was approaching middle age, let alone retirement. But the AARP (you notice they don’t even use “retired” anymore) doesn’t give up easily, so I’m still getting those official-looking, temporary membership cards.
It is only now, nearly 15 years later, that I’ve begun to think of myself as middle-aged. But I’m still not thinking of retirement. Sixty-five is the new 50, right?
My wife laughs at me because I always notice my contemporaries on TV these days, and point out how old they’ve gotten. I wonder why it just happens to them, and not to me …
Anyway, I finally signed up for Medicare the day after a trip to the drive-through at Wendy’s. When I drove up to the window to pay for my order, the nice lady at the cash register was apologetic.
“Honey, you’ve got to tell me to give you the senior discount when you place your order. I can’t fix it for you by the time you get up here to the window,” she said. “Now, you remember that for next time.”
My wife, who was sitting in the passenger seat, was amused. I didn’t think it was all that funny.
But Jenny, who always is looking for a bargain, claims she would always ask for the senior discount. That’s easy for her to say now, I reminded her, because she’s not old enough to get one.
It was kind of like Joe and his friends last year joking about all the “senior” discounts they were eligible for, when it was their last year in high school. Funny.
We’ll see what happens when it’s their turn.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at publisher@newalbanygazette.com.