Hey, we boomers aren’t all that old! You know it. We know it. But Perry Block of Havertown, Pennsylvania? When he goes to his supermarket, he has a hard time remembering it. Why? Because of The Discount-That-Must-Not-Be-Named!
Not long ago, my local Super Fresh Market began providing discounts on Tuesdays to a particular class of shoppers. You know who I mean.
It is that class of shoppers commonly referred to by a particular word that I strongly dislike and in fact eschew. But considering the nature of the discount, if the eschew fits, I decided to wear it. So I screwed up my courage, swallowed my pride, decided not to come up with a third sexually based metaphor, and went food shopping.
That is, food shopping on Tuesday at Super Fresh, to avail myself of The Discount-That-Must-Not-Be-Named!
When I arrived, Super Fresh was already awash in polyester, plaid, and a profusion of blue and gray hair as if a massive ballpoint pen had exploded in the skies over London. Everywhere I looked were members of the Greatest and slightly post-Greatest Generation.
So naturally, I began humming “Sugar Magnolia” by the Grateful Dead. You see, there’s nothing like humming 40-year-old rock music to prove conclusively to one and all in a Super Fresh that I AM YOUNG, GODAMMIT, I AM NOT LIKE YOU!”
I steered my cart carefully through the Super Fresh aisles, checking prices, picking out the products I needed, and gradually shifting the music over into the Rolling Stones. In Aisle 8, I paused to ask a youngish store employee some directions.
“Mustard? That’s Aisle 14, sir,” he said.
“Thank you very much,” I replied.
“And it’s on sale too,” he added. “That plus the extra discount for seni . . .”
OMG, shut up! I hustled myself and my rickety cart out of hearing range fast as I could. Did he not hear what I was humming? Maybe I needed not to hum, but to actually sing the lyrics?
“. . . but if you try some time, you just might find, you just might find. . .”
Well, what I just might find was myself in Aisle 14, looking for the mustard. But coming down the aisle in the opposite direction was a leathery-looking gent whose posture practically bade you to stick a saddle on him and ride him to the nearest glue factory.
I looked away. I sang louder. It didn’t matter.
“Hello, friend,” he greeted me cheerily. “Didja know folks like us get an extra five-percent off here at Super Fresh?”
Oh no! Did he view me as a new recruit? Did he intend to take me under his wing?
“You see,” he went on, “you take this coupon and you hand it in when you check out your groceries. See, it says right here. ‘Discount for seni. . . .'”
OMG, not again! I did me some wheelies and ran to the checkout counter fast as my wobbly cart would take me. Now I segued back into the Dead, giving forth almost as if I were in concert:
“Drivin’ that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones…”
The checkout guy, about 25, eyed me suspiciously as he began to total up my items.
“That’s $87.58, sir,” he said.
“Did you give me The Seni . . .umm . . . Discount-That-Must-Not-Be-Named?”
“Oh, sure, don’t worry, sir. I put the senior citizen discount right in.”
He had said it. It hurt bad!
“Don’t you want to ask me something?” I said to him. “Verify something? Assure yourself of something?”
“No, you’re good, sir.”
“But shouldn’t you card me? Make sure I’m the right age to get The-Discount-That-Must-Not-Be-Named?”
“That’s hardly necessary, sir.”
“Card me, you fool! Please card me!”
But it was too late. Now I was no longer singing “Casey Jones.” Nor was I singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Sugar Magnolia,” or anything by the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, or any other rock group of the Boomer era at all.
I was singing “Strangers in the night, exchanging glances, wondering in the night…”
The Discount-That-Must-Not-Be-Named had won.