Oh, the trauma of reaching senior citizen status. I tried to duck it for as long as I could but eventually caved in to the cost savings features that go with it.
I remember the first time I prepared myself for the leap into seniorism. I decided to go for the senior citizen discount at the Island Cinema in Bailey's shopping center.
Surely they will question the fact that I've just joined the ranks of senior citizens when I present myself at the box office. They will surely say, "Sir, are you to trying to pull off a hoax? You're much too young to impersonate a senior citizen. Shame on you. Show us proof or we'll immediately call the police and have you arrested."
That's what I expected so I armed myself with driver's license, birth certificate, Social Security card, Mickey Mouse Club certificate, Medicare card, AARP membership, life insurance forms, college alumni membership and passport.
I put them all in a briefcase and was prepared to present them to what I envisioned would be a hard-nosed, take no prisoners ticket taker. I got on the line to buy a ticket and tried to appear as senior as possible. I wondered if there was enough gray in my hair.
My turn came. "One senior ticket, please." I whispered. "Excuse me, sir? I didn't hear you," came the response.
So much for the privacy I so craved at that moment. "I said one senior ticket, please." My voice volume went up a number of decibels and it sounded as though it had been shot through a cannon and amplified through an acoustical system that was being blared throughout the Bailey shopping center - with acoustical feedback and all.
The ticket taker said, "Yes, of course, sir. Here you are." And with that she pressed the button, the ticket popped out and she handed it to me.
I paused. Doesn't she need to ask me for proof of age? Wasn't she going to demand that I produce every single document I had gathered for this momentous occasion?
Instead she gave me a warm smile and waited for me to pay for the ticket. The implications of her act were growing on me. Why isn't she asking for - demanding - proof? Does this mean that my illusion of looking considerably younger than a bona fide senior citizen is being shattered on the spot?
"Aren't you going to ask me for proof of age?" I whimpered. "After all, anyone can claim to be a senior citizen and go for the lower price."
Again she gave me a warm smile and while the people on line behind me were starting to fidget from impatience she said quite innocently, "Sir, this is Sanibel. We're on the honor system here. I don't think you'd try to pass for a senior citizen if you weren't. Please make sure you keep all those documents you've obviously brought with you in the briefcase you're carrying in a safe place and enjoy the movie."
So much for the formal rite of passage.
-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.