There are any number of pivotal points in a man’s life. Most are remembered fondly; the day he gets his first real job, the day he gets married or the day his first child is born. However some, like the day he first qualifies for an AARP card, evoke a different emotion. I remember that day well.
It was a Monday (Ok maybe it wasn’t a Monday, but all bad things happen on Mondays so for the purpose of this story it was a Monday). I walked in the front door after a particularly trying day, took off my jacket and deposited myself in a kitchen chair to see what came in the mail. Damn, there was another one of those flyers from the AARP wanting me to join. Ever since I’d turned fifty they’d been bombarding me monthly with offers.
Wait, this was a different size envelope and it had a message on the front that said, “Membership Materials Inside”. I turned the envelope over in my hands a few times and then curiosity got the better of me. I slide my finger under the flap and opened it up. When I tipped it on end, out fell a pile of brochures and papers, one of which had a shiny new AARP card with my name embossed on it attached. I sifted through the papers looking for the form that would tell me where to send my money if I really wanted to join, but that paper wasn’t to be found.
While I was pondering on that, the door opened again and Linda walked in. I glanced in her direction waving the card in my hand and asked, “What’s this about?”
“We haven’t seen each other for twelve hours and, when we do, the first thing that you do is wave a piece of paper in my face and ask me to use my psychic tools to identify it. Do I look like some sort of magical witch?” She replied.
It’s rhetorical questions like that which drive sales up in the flower and boxed chocolate industries. I opted to save money and simply beg forgiveness. “I’m sorry Sweetie. How was your day? But before you get too deep into that, do you have any idea why the AARP is sending me a membership card that is apparently already funded?”
“Well, my guess is that it’s because I sent them your payment about three weeks ago.”
“I’m fifty years old. We could have another child and they’d be looking at colleges before I’m old enough to retire. Why do I need an AARP membership?”
“First, the child thing will never happen. Second, did you look at the materials? Did you see the discounts you can get?”
“I don’t need discounts for a retired person. I’m still working.”
Hell hath no fury like a coupon clipper scorned. “Yes and that’s why I don’t let you buy anything except gas for your truck and an occasional Twinkie. Put the card in you wallet and use it!”
I gave her my best ‘I’m the man in the house’ scowl and she shot back her patented ‘Only in your dreams’ look. I always lose that one, so the card slipped into my wallet, but I purposely put it behind the old, defunct Warehouse Video membership card where it was well hidden.
A few months went by and I was careful not to venture into that section of my wallet, as if simply touching that card too often would make me start saying things like ‘whippersnapper’ and ‘damn skippy’.
Then a weekend came when Linda and I decided to take an unplanned trip to Indianapolis. When we arrived, we stopped at a convenient motel and went in to register. The clerk was young, early twenties at most, but he seemed competent enough at the job. As he was getting us our room he asked, “Do you have any discounts that you’d like me to apply?”
“Nope.” I replied.
My wife gave me an elbow in my left side. I’m pretty used to that, so I ignored it. Then she pulled out the big gun and, with a swift, catlike movement, kicked me in the shin. We did the scowl and dreams exchange again which ended with me saying, “Uh, maybe I do have a discount.” I dug the AARP card out of my wallet and handed it to the clerk.
“Oh this is great,” he said. “You’ll get fifteen percent off.”
Linda gave me the ‘see I told you so’ look and I dug my driver’s license out and handed that to the clerk too.
“What’s that for?” He asked.
“So you can verify that I’m old enough for the discount.”
“Oh, I don’t need to see your license for that. I can tell by looking.”
Against my better judgment, I let the whippersnapper live.
I felt sorry about that later. With his level of perspicacity, putting him out of his misery probably would have been a kindness. Fortunately, except for the discount episode the next morning at IHOP, which is another story, the rest of the weekend went better.