I’m never really cognizant of how old I am. I know the number and all that, but I don’t feel it. There’s a vision of almost-37 I carry around from my childhood and that’s not me. Maybe it’s because those almost-37 year old women I knew back when I was a kid were all tired moms in Disney shirts and knee-length pleated denim shorts.
So, I forget how old I am most of the time. John is the same way.
Then, we went to a cinema in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. On a Friday night for a 9:45 PM movie. And, suddenly, things we very, very different.
See, we normally do matinees on, like, a Wednesday, at the ratty theater in our neighborhood. Due to this strategy, I haven’t sat in a full theater in about four years or even had to wait on a line. It’s almost like private screenings, there’s so few people around.
At the Cherry Hill AMC that Friday night, there were a ton of people. As we were waiting in the ticket line, we looked around, trying to pinpoint what was off about the place. The answer hit us pretty quickly.
“I think all the facial hair in the building is on my face,” John said.
“These girls are wearing a lot of eyeliner,” I noted quietly. “I know it’s Jersey, but $h!t.”
It dawned on us. We looked at one another in horror and gasped, “We’re the old couple at the movie theater.”
Everyone was was really young. Like teenagers. And they were so charmingly fresh faced and hopeful, unlike the grizzly man and pink-headed pre-crone in the ticket line who were silently hoping the little bastards weren’t going to talk through the movie. (Cuz, you know. Kids these days and whatnot. Get off my lawn.)
Once we came to terms with the fact that these kids were on dates and we were having “date night,” we started laughing. Loudly. Really loudly. It seemed so ridiculous to think that we’re old or middle-aged, but there it was. It was true and, for some reason, it was effing funny.
“Two please,” I said to the ticket seller once we got to the head of the line. “And I have these silver coupons.”
“We’re the old couple….with coupons,” John observed, throwing us both back into maniacal laughter.
OF COURSE I had coupons. If we hadn’t had them, there’s no way we’d be in New Jersey on a Friday night when we could be at home in pajamas with a bottle of wine
I couldn’t stop with the coupons, though. Next stop was the concessions stand and I was high on being old and not giving a $h!t.
“I’m going to give this cashier kid exact change,” I announced after complaining about the price of Cherry Coke. And I did.
“Over there!” John pointed at the other side of the concessions stand. “I see grey-haired guy. Full grey!”
“Does he have a coupon?” I asked.
More. Loud. Laughing. People were starting to look at this point, but not in a derisive, “Oh, the impropriety of it all!” sort of way. More of a “Oh, look at that older couple having fun!” sort of way.
In the auditorium, we were like old/middle-aged fly paper. There weren’t many people in the place at first, so we picked our seats in the upper left quadrant and people filled in the rows down front and on the other side. Again, we’re surrounded by kids, but as the start time near, more and more older folk are filing in to the auditorium. Mostly couples like us who were probably out for date night, along with what looked like old father-son duos. And they all filled in the seats around us. Yeah. We kickstarted The Old Quadrant.
So, that moment finally came when our ages finally hit us and instead of curling up and feeling awful about ourselves for no longer being smooth skinned and flexible, we laughed at it.
And then we immediately went back to forgetting our ages and feeling young. It’s the only reasonable thing to do.