Recently, I was driving from Jacksonville into Medford when I got stopped by a cop for doing 41 in a 30 mph zone, and I did something I had never done before: I played the age card.
"I'm 61 years old," I explained to him. "And I never get tickets, but I guess I need to start paying better attention when I'm driving!"
I didn't get cited, and I don't know whether telling him my age helped with that, but I do know that being an official member of the AARP group does have its advantages.
When you first start doing things like looking for your glasses when they're still on your head, putting a block of cheese into a kitchen drawer or finding the head of your mop in with your scuba gear, it can be pretty alarming.
This morning, I spent 30 minutes on the phone with IT trying to figure out a problem with my Nook e-reader, only to realize 20 minutes after I got off the phone that what I had in my hand was my iPad, not my Nook. Now there's a half-hour of my life I'll never get back. Getting older can also be costly: I recently parked and left the key in the "accessories" position and came out to find a dead battery. Score one for Triple-A.
Another problem with aging is that suddenly your peer group starts looking a lot like teachers you might have had in high school. I went to a Doobie Brothers show at the Britt a couple of years ago and found myself looking around for all the long-haired kids I used to see at concerts. Instead, I found that the females in the crowd mostly had short hair, as did the males, if they had any hair at all. And then there was that odd smell of no marijuana in the air "¦
Of course, I realize that I am aging, too, and not all that gracefully. I looked in the rearview mirror once and the light hit me in such a way that I saw wrinkles I had never seen before. I almost drove right off the road. But I am still surprised when I tell strangers that I have a granddaughter and they don't clutch at their chests and fall over in a dead faint in shock.
And then there was that horrible girl behind the counter at Taco Bell who, without prompting, asked if I wanted the Senior Meal.
But the advantage of being older is that people expect less of you. Strangers are kinder to you, hold the door open for you, offer their seat to you. If you do commit some bone-headed mistake, you can blame it on having a "senior moment," which I have been having since I was 16, but no one needs to know that. Especially not that sweet cop who didn't give me a ticket. Some things we can keep a secret!
Darlene Ensor lives in Jacksonville.