The age card

Courtesy of the New York Times

Courtesy of the New York Times

There are many good things about aging, ok maybe not many, but certainly a few. One is that along with a Medicare card (and wrinkles and seborrheic keratosis or skin boogers) you get an invisible age card that gets you in and out of things.

It works by reminding people you are older than they are (or at least as old) so they can’t possibly expect you to do something.

I started using it in my fifties. My sister-in-law, a very wise woman, started using it in her thirties. She was always very vague about her age. If asked to do something that was not so interesting she was almost 40. (She couldn’t possibly do it if she was THAT old!) If it was fun, she was just about 30. You can make this work for you.

Yes, there are all you straight up folks who say, “So why don’t you just say you don’t want to do whatever it is.” There are times when you want to force encourage others without such brashness. It’s fun to use. People’s reactions are worth the effort.

The age card is effective when used on me. When I was working, one of our retired employees came in to see me. He was on Medicare with a medical supplement plan, neither of which were overseen by the company. He used a cane (always helpful to support the card) and worked to look frail. (I know this guy played racquetball!) He sat down and asked for my help with his medical bills. I think his words were, “Would you help an old man?” It worked. I helped him.

Sometimes people resist. There are stores in my area who give the “senior discount.” I tried to get one from a clerk I had never seen before. She refused to believe I was 60. Really? I have a driver’s license that said more than that. She looked at me suspiciously telling me I look too good for my age. (What is that? You can never look too good for your age.) I would have pegged her at 60 but she may have been a very worn 40.

My brother loves using it when he has a good golf day. “I golfed my age!” or better still “I beat kids half my age!” He isn’t real good about using it to get out of things. At age 84 he still makes my Mom’s potato salad for our reunions and that’s with a homemade cooked dressing. His wife occasionally helps him use it. “He’s too old to climb on your roof so get a contractor!”

He is very good at wallpapering. So am I. Some parents teach their children how to play Parcheesi but our parents taught us how to wallpaper and paint. He used to help lots of people wallpaper but he hasn’t in years. Wallpaper is out of vogue now but I am sure that he prefers to golf his age.

I use it when I bring a side dish for an event. Let the youn’uns bring the complicated dishes. I’ll bring a nice bag of fresh potato chips, maybe even a designer variety like sour cream and onion. Yum!

I also use it to refuse concerts with stadium seating without chair backs. “You really expect me to sit for three hours on a backless bench at my age?” And for sporting events — “You are inviting me to a baseball game? Do you have a box with a private bathroom and a food buffet?”

There are other great things about aging like wisdom, experience and not giving a crap anymore but that age card is priceless. I don’t go out without it.

35 thoughts on “The age card

  1. Yes, I love the age card even though it makes me feel old-er. I notice in airports that the young frequent fliers who dash around knowing where they are going will stop and ask if Bill and I need help. I figured it must be Bill who they are feeling sorry for, but then again…….


    • No, it’s Bill. I’m sure of that. No one has ever asked me if I needed help in an airport. It’s probably because I haven’t flown in several years. I’m waiting for them to “beam me up Scotty!”


  2. Now you tell me. I just spent the day helping my husband chisel the granite tile off our fireplace surround and the hearth. If only I knew about the age card excuse, I could have used it. Although, since he is a couple of years older than I am, he probably wouldn’t have bought it.


  3. 😀 So funny! I used this the other day when lugging stuff into my son’s new place. I handed my son his record player when I met him half way to his door. He asked if it was too much for me and I said yes, I’m too old for this. (it was not heavy at all) LOL.


  4. I’ve been remiss in using my age card at family gatherings. My sister and I are still expected to bring something fancy and have dinners at our houses. In fact, some nieces and nephews who got a late start on their careers are only now in their mid to late thirties starting to bring anything more complicated than chips. When my daughters are here, I can relax, but unfortunately none of them live nearby.

    I used to paint and varnish when we moved into a new house. Not any more. I’ve been using the age card on that for a while.


  5. Andy Warhol wore white wigs in his twenties. He wanted to look like a young old man and not an old young man. Also that part about people’s reactions is very good. I have a friend who does not speak to her sister for years. Instead of drudging up the honest details which invoke judgement, she says “My sister died in a mining accident!” That way the person is horrified, my friend is off the hook and everyone goes back to the boring talk at hand (Very few people get into the details of which mine,etc…….If so, my friend says, “She took one step back too far!)


    • Yes except that she didn’t give me the discount. I gave her my drivers license. Then she asked for a store card which I had. Then she came up with another excuse (I think I was suppose to have a store credit account) to not give me the discount. I looked up the fine print online once I got home and she was wrong. Technically I was punished for looking younger. Really made me think that she is younger than she looks which was ridden hard and put away wet a couple times too many.


  6. Michael and I use our age cards…of course, it’s still uplifting when the reply is accompanied by a gasp and “Wow, I’d peg you at 60″…why thank you! ‘Specially since both of us are 84 these days. We know a couple that use the senior discount for one cup of coffee…then split the cup. That’s sort of pushing the envelope! Right. There’s one fast food place that we really like, plus is you’re a senior they give free drinks along w/your order…nice!

    Ballgames? Out, out. Only time I go is when my sister and I use her box at the football stadium…elevator, food served, etc. That’s the only way for us! Forget climbing those tiers and sitting in cramped rows…seats w/no backs…no way!

    We’ve done our share of wallpapering…the painting bit wasn’t our choice of things to do.
    Now, when the family gets together we get the easiest assignments…bring wine. And we’re always loaded w/delicious leftovers to take home. Going elsewhere we take ice or chips/dips like you!
    The age card is a great card to have…use it and enjoy!
    Love the post…as always, you’re write such outstanding things.


    • In the past 5 years or so I have made such a transition from cooking lots of stuff to the easy things. As our family ages, I have notices the picnics get simpler — no fancy cakes — still good food but no one bothers with the fussy decorating. My brother is 84 and he can pass for his sixties both in energy and looks. Thanks for the compliment!


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