Tag Archives: seniors

Senior Shopping Showdown

Photo by Rita Mantarro,
National Geographic

I’ve seen some crazy things in my life, been in some scary situations. I’ve been grocery shopping in the Middle East where people were being beheaded across the street from the store, but I’m not kidding when I say my adventure to my rural middle-Michigan grocery store yesterday morning was far more harrowing than that. Honestly, it was the perfect storm: Social security and unemployment checks had hit the banks the night before and it was senior shopping day during a pandemic. In other words: Dante’s Second Circle of Hell.

My only explanation for how I got caught in the Blue Wave – the crush of blue-haired old ladies and old guys praying their prostate would hold up long enough to get through the checkout line – is that I’ve completely lost track of what day it is. Obviously Blursday the Fortyteenth of Maprilay is when seniors get to go to the store first. At some point I’ll be offended that no one stopped and carded me for proof I was old enough to be there. If only someone had!

Seniors are ruthless. They’re taking on the produce department like they’re storming the beaches at Normandy! I got body-checked by an old lady wearing a ski mask and elbow-length Playtex Living Gloves as we were both reaching for the last package of 90% lean ground beef. I now bear the scars of that battle lost. I can only guess that, at that age, there’s not much more to live for than Mexican-blend shredded cheese in a resealable package so screw social distancing if I happen to be in the way of that.

Seniors also have the highly developed survival instincts of alligators which explains why they’ve lived this long. One old guy “accidentally” spilled a carton of fresh blueberries on the floor, I’m sure, thinking that if I slip and fall, it’ll give him extra time to get to the bread aisle before me. The rest of the world is dying of CoVid-19 and I’m dying of blueberry-induced trauma.

On the bright side, God is particularly fond of me so I was able to score an 18-count MEGA roll package of toilet paper. I only bought one, naturally, and to pay my good fortune forward, I loaded one for the grandma next to me. Of course, she could no longer see to drive with it in the basket of her motorized cart but this in no way changed her level of navigational competency.

Needless to say, I will not be back to the store for quite a while. At least not until I’ve recovered from this experience which could take a lifetime!

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My Dad is a Seenager

My Dad: The Senior Teenager

My dad recently announced that he is officially a seenager. A what? This sounds to me like he’s aged into being senile, but, at this point, I’m not going to talk him out of that. Clarifying, he explained he’s now a senior teenager. When I realized what that was, I suddenly have life goals! Basically, he has everything he ever wanted as a teenager only 70 years later. Everything he wanted without any of the hazards!

As a seenager, he doesn’t have to go to school or work and sleeps as late as he wants every day. He takes naps if he wants because, if he feels like it, he can stay up all night watching Netflix. (He doesn’t. He still doesn’t last much past 9pm, if we’re honest).

He’s got his own place where he makes all the rules and no curfew, plus a monthly allowance! My dad still has his driver’s license and his own car. (Yes, it’s a 2009 Camry with 40k original miles and a cassette player, but he still listens to cassettes, so it’s okay.) That driver’s license also gets him into bars and the liquor store. He doesn’t even have to sneak! It’s great.

Seenagers wear whatever they want as they are past needing to impress anyone. Things like shoelaces and belts become a point of pride more than fashion. How many at that age are relegated to Velcro and elastic waistbands? Dad can grow whatever hair he has left down to his butt crack and absolutely no one is going to tell him he can’t. (Don’t do it, Dad.)

I don’t really worry about him running around with a bad crowd of other seenagers. Or walking around with a bad crowd, I don’t think any of them would run even if they were being chased. From what I can tell, the people he hangs out with aren’t going to turn up pregnant, cook meth or fail English 4. Nobody’s getting drafted, enlisting, or worried about college applications. They can all go to R-rated movies together and pay half-price for the matinees. It’s a great group of “kids.”

And at the end of the day, those seenagers aren’t scared of anything. They’ve already faced down the really scary things life can dish out, so why be scared? And, hey, they don’t have acne. So, you go, Dad!

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Over the Barrel

CrackerBarrelPuzzle_lgI had never eaten at a Cracker Barrel restaurant until this past week. But, too, I’m also the person who never watched an episode of “Dallas” – probably for the same reasons. It took less than 34 seconds to realize exactly why I would probably never go back to Cracker Barrel again any time soon: I don’t ever want to be that old. When you suddenly find yourself eating at Cracker Barrel just know you are on a slippery slope to the Luby’s buffet and a full-care nursing home.

Straight up, Cracker Barrel is basically a senior citizen theme park. Those rocking chairs on the porch are just age-appropriate thrill rides. Think rollercoasters for people over 65. Stopping at Cracker Barrel for dinner is not unlike going on a fall foliage bus tour without having to get up the steps of the bus or obtain a doctor’s release from the six medical specialists who currently file on your insurance. At the end of the day, you still get to eat with a huge group of other old folks then exit through the gift shop.

Oh yes, the gift shop. Where else can you get unlimited refills on your ice tea, purchase a cotton/poly blend quilt for $79.99, and pick up a complete collection of Tony Bennett’s greatest hits on CD? Not since the old Stuckey’s sold those weird pecan roll things has there been such a flurry of excitement in the retail world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the food wasn’t good at Cracker Barrel. In their defense, there was no blue Jell-O on the menu. You still have to wait to progress into your Luby’s stage of decline to get that. I will warn you, though, that this is not the place to go if having your food touch each other is going to trigger you. I spent most of my meal digging the green beans out from under the mashed potatoes. This wasn’t a problem for me, but I know this can cause PTSD in others.

The greater concern for me was if I was given an automatic membership into AARP with my meal. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that (regardless of my eligibility). Nor am I willing to purchase shoes with Velcro closures. Sorry, Cracker Barrel, but give me another 20 years and I’ll be back.

         

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And Then There Were None

Jean___Thomas2Mom and Tom2In just a few days, my tenure as a grade-school parent ends. Despite those times when we just weren’t sure if it would really happen, my youngest son will graduate from high school – We hope. Although, there is still time. Not until I actually hear his name called and the diploma put in his hand, will I breathe. That’s the same time his counselor will stop eating Valium like LifeSavers, the principal will stop considering a career change, and his first period teacher will look up and think, “Oh! That’s who that kid is. His face isn’t familiar.”

I’ve always said he is the child my parents wished upon me. This is the kid that would have qualified us for the elite Navy Seals special ops supreme command of Parenthood if such a thing existed. He has made us battle ready for any level of mischief, mishap, or outrageous improbability. While they say it takes a village to raise a child, I disagree. In this case, it takes a village, a fully functioning medical/surgical facility, an offshore bank, several high level negotiators, a contact at the United Nations, a building permit, and friends with “connections.”

Then just about the time I think I’m on the top of my parenthood game, he’s leaving. He never listened when I told him to clean the bathroom, wash denim separately, or mow the lawn. But when I told him to dream big and chase after it, he listened to that! I pushed him to take harder classes and do his homework on time. Of course, he never did that. But when I push him to be independent, smart and self-sufficient, he’s all over it. What the heck?!

So it seems I have worked myself out of a job — a job with rotten pay, long hours and amazing benefits. It’s a job I have loved more than anything else and one I must have done right. The last little bird in the nest is spreading huge, strong, powerful wings that will let him soar to places beyond what either of us could have dreamed.

And just as he did when he marched off to Kindergarten, he’s not looking back. If he did, he’d see the endless pride on my face and my heart in my hands. He’s going to be great! And I’ll be okay, too.

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So You Wanna Go to College

collegeThere are a lot of things you learn as the parent of a high school senior. Mostly you learn just how stupid you are, but that’s been building in varying degrees since the kid developed cognitive reasoning skills, right? Nothing, though, shows exactly how dumb you probably are quite like your child deciding to go to college. Who knew it requires a college degree just to fill out the college application?

(This is where I start sounding like my dad.) “Back in my day…” it wasn’t this complicated to apply for college. I filled out a paper form front and back in ink, then stapled a piece of notebook paper to it where I’d answered some random essay question. It was probably the same question that every Miss America winner answered for the past 40 years, and it required saying something about world peace, saving pandas, and the importance of dietary fiber.

Now you have to write seven short novelettes that deeply explore the workings of your subconscious mind, prove that you’ve mastered Chinese algebra, and demonstrate your capabilities for leading a Marine combat unit. Oh, and they must be written in the ancient Aramaic language and professionally bound and published.

Don’t wait until the last minute to start this process either. If your child is past the third grade, you’re behind. By that point, you need to be pushing little Johnny into professional sports and performance art. If your child has not solved the world’s dependence on fossil fuels by age 8, just know you’re in the college application loser pile. It’s not really an “early acceptance letter” unless the student receives it before the start of middle school. Naturally, your student has to have a 28.9 GPA on a 4.0 scale and be ranked in the top 0.00094 percentile of their graduating class. Never be afraid to administer some Tonya Harding tactics to move into medal contention if there’s ever any doubt. Then follow up with written recommendations from Gandhi, newly sainted Mother Teresa, and Harambe the Gorilla.

If I had to apply for college now with the way I looked when I graduated from high school then, I’m not even sure I would be accepted at Tulsa Typing School or the Iowa College for Deaf Musicians.  Let’s hope getting through college these days isn’t nearly as hard as just getting in.

(photo credit: explodingDog)

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