BY BOB SMITH
I just turned 58 years old, my wife is 56, and we’re fairly well-preserved, as they say. I have salt-and-pepper hair, lately more salt than pepper, but my face is relatively wrinkle-free and, if I do say so myself, I am reasonably attractive. The same is true of my wife Maria, who has a fantastic tan all summer and whose hair is even more brown than mine.
This past summer we went to the movies with Maria’s sister and her husband, who are both in their early 50s – which means the sunny side of 55. We agreed that the latest mindless mid-summer action flick would be an appropriate diversion for a cloudy day, and set off.
We got to the theater, one of these strip mall, ten-screen multiplexes, and stood patiently in line. When our turn came, I stepped up to the window and spoke through a metal grille in the glass to the worker inside. She appeared to be in her early 20s, dressed in torn jeans and a funky tattered shirt. Her attention appeared to be fairly evenly divided between issuing tickets and responding to whatever messages were popping up on the screen of the smart phone that lay on the counter, directly under her downcast gaze.
“Two adults for ‘Summer Action Movie,'” I said, sliding a twenty into the round, silver depression under the glass.
She looked up for a millisecond from the phone screen (someone was LOL about something, or no doubt would be soon) to grab the $20. As she slid it toward the cash drawer, she glanced at my face, punched a button on the console that caused two tickets to pop out of a slot in the counter, and began to make change. She ripped off the tickets, counted out my change, and slid the pile back through the hole in the glass.
“Enjoy yuh show,” she mumbled without conviction, smiling faintly as her eyes dropped to discover that one of her friends, someplace, was now LMAO.
The entire transaction had taken perhaps five seconds.
We were a bit early for the movie, which didn’t start for 40 minutes, which meant we would have to endure some shopping time in the adjacent strip mall. As we strolled across the parking lot, I remarked that going to the movies in mid-afternoon had its benefits, as I noticed that I had gotten more than the usual change back from my $20 bill.
“Must be an early bird special,” I joked.
“Wait a minute,” my sister-in-law said. “We got charged three dollars more than you.”
“That can’t be,” I said, reaching for her tickets. Sure enough, their tickets showed a price of $10 each, whereas ours were only $8.50. They were identical, I thought, until I saw that sinister two-letter abbreviation following the reduced price: “SR.”
I had gotten the senior discount! Without even asking for it! Without even being asked my age!