…and the Right to Eat Dinner Whenever I Want

Exhibit A: For the past few months, I’ve been re-watching one of my favorite television series, Monk. Maybe you know it. Tony Shalhoub plays Adrian Monk, a brilliant detective who works through endless phobias and social anxieties to solve crimes on a weekly basis. It’s hilarious, well-written, and brilliantly acted.

Lately, I’ve noticed something else about Monk. It plays on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries network, sandwiched between Murder, She Wrote, Columbo, and Diagnosis Murder. Featuring Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Peter Falk, and the usual suspects, all of whom were favorites of my grandmother.

Exhibit B: A few evenings ago, some colleagues and I were taking advantage of free beer and wine during a reception at a conference hotel. The bartender poured drinks all around, but as she placed the glasses on the bar, she asked for a few of my friends’ IDs, apologizing for the inconvenience.

“Oh, it’s okay,” one of my colleagues said. “It doesn’t bother me.”

The bartender nodded. “The only people who ever seem to get mad at being carded are angry old dudes.” She looked my way. “No offense.”

I laughed it off, but even so, I couldn’t help wondering whether she’d just accused me of being old, angry, or worse, a combination of both. She never asked for my driver’s license, by the way.

Exhibit C: Yesterday, my wife and I dropped by a little barbecue joint for dinner. It was perfect. There was no line, so we ordered our food and had our pick of almost all the tables in the place. As we carried our heaps of ribs and pulled pork and cups of half-and-half sweet tea to our tables, I looked around and realized the only other customers in the restaurant were a bit older than us. More than a bit, if I’m honest.

I sat down and looked at my watch. It was only 4:30 p.m.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

I’m getting older, apparently, and it’s been happening for a while now. Don’t feel sorry for me, not yet. I don’t feel old, not physically, anyway. Sure, every time it occurs to me that The Princess Bride released thirty years ago, I recall those AARP fliers clogging up my mailbox and think maybe it would just be easier to give in and join. Then I reconsider. If I join AARP, how far am I from purchasing a Jitterbug phone? And their membership cards are enormous. Seriously, you could read them from the International Space Station.  

Or maybe there are other explanations. As series go, Monk’s not that old—it ran from 2002 to 2009. Maybe that bartender just thought I was angry and happened to forget to ask for my ID. Also, my wife and I like to keep our weekends unscheduled, eating lunch and dinner at odd times, earlier or later than usual. It’s all possible.

At any rate, I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to do anything to pretend to be younger than I am. I won’t start dying my hair, wearing skinny jeans, suddenly getting tattoos, or posting selfies of myself watching shows on the CW. I’ll be the same me I’ve always been. As I always have, I’ll watch whatever I want, and I’ll retain my right to eat dinner whenever I please.

I’m still going to hold off on joining AARP, though. They’re really pushing it with those membership cards.