Not seeing the seniors’ discount coming
There are a lot of things in this mountainous part of the world that make the last of the baby boomers feel less doomed. Shaped skis carving across immaculately groomed snow are one. Bike rides up to Maroon Bells where there is always someone in their 80s you might be able to out-sprint after drafting them up the last steep grade is another. Short fairways and high altitude are a mixture to make a retiree dream he’s on steroids. Botox, Lasik and Spandex are a few little helpers that only seem more superficial than the others.
Thank goodness we don’t have college bars. They are worse than mirrors and computers when it comes to reminders of age. I had forgotten what I was going into when I walked through the front door of one last weekend. The occasion was to toast my second kid’s graduation, so I probably should have been more aware of my own age. But, I have lived in a mountain resort too long to remember that I am not a legitimate whipper-snapper everywhere; only in our alternative universe where the whips are more like light brushes and the snaps mere swishes.
We arrived at an age-appropriate time and, when you get to a college bar early, it’s quiet, like someone might have a conversation across the table. The idea of a drink special, free appetizers or a DJ seems absurd. The bartender has only just woken up. “And they serve cold beer here?” a person of maturity thinks excitedly. It was a place I could get used to.
But, I didn’t know it was early. It seemed late to me, even though I had lost an hour crossing time zones. Ten o’clock central, 9 mountain felt well past prime time, “and still so quiet,” I thought. I could not imagine how a place like this could make it, being this slow on a Thursday night.
A nursed beer in this environment came on like a sleeping aid. I blinked languidly, my head bobbed, and it was 10:30. In that moment you’d have thought a pumpkin turned into a bus coming straight from the brewery and had just arrived for its second stop on the beer-chugging tour. The place was instantly packed! Voices got louder and they turned up the music to chase the din up the decibel scale. I don’t remember it being like this when we were young, but my old college roommate recently reminded me that I blow-dried my long, thick, dark hair back then, too.
I looked at my watch. “Hmm, it’s getting late.” I looked around the room and realized I was the oldest person in the building by at least double. The old regular, looking comfortable weighing down the end of the bar with his elbows, may not even have been born when I graduated. “Would you look at that? It’s time to get out of here!”
It was so crowded that I could see the advantages in initiating a barroom brawl. It seemed a police escort and/or tear gas were the only ways out. But, when all hope looked marooned on a distant shore, the sea of youth parted and the old current flowed freely through it to crest, crash and dissipate into the sands of time there.
The locks were opened and there was fresh water lined up at the door waiting to take our places inside the damned pool of humanity inside. We were summarily pumped out and bubbly, sparkling water replaced us. “Ahh,” a tall glass of it effervesced sincerely. “Look. It’s a cute old couple out on a date. I wonder if this place was here when they were at college.” I resisted the urge to point her attention to the antique bar behind me, which was obviously around 100 years old. I was afraid her apology might include “it was an honest mistake.”
What did I expect? I recalled believing 30 to be old back when I graduated. These kids would find out soon enough that, even though hope may indeed spring eternal, it does not originate from a fountain of youth. There was no need to debate the topic this eve of release into the real world.
The next day we met the kids again for our lunch and their breakfast. The sore spot where the age dart stuck me the night before had mostly healed when the check came and the waiter winked; “I made sure you got the 10% seniors’ discount.”
How old do you think I am, you dumb sonova … I was about to say in response to his spark to my fumes. “It’s the least we can do for the graduates. Congratulations!” he finished.
Roger Marolt is wondering if the dry skin can be exfoliated with the sands of time. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.