It’s official: I’m old

Last night I was driving home from my sister’s house. It was a bitterly cold night, three degrees and dropping, and I had about forty miles to drive. I thought I might like a hot cup of coffee in the car with me. I‘d been laid up almost two weeks with a cold, and I still had a raw throat and hacking cough. The weather certainly wasn’t helping.

Sometimes the cold weather gives me these aches, you know? My joints stiffen up and I’ll often get this pain in my heel and ankle that gets me to limpin’. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the arthritis. Or maybe lumbago, if I had any idea what that was.

I spotted a White Hen on the left and pulled in. I poured myself a 20-ounce cup of House Blend decaf and topped it off with a healthy dose of half-and-half, as is my custom. Then I added a couple shots of French Vanilla creamer for a little kick. Sometimes you gotta live life on the edge.

Their travel lids had a nifty little slider with a raised nub, so you could shift it left or right to cover or open the spout. What won’t they think up next?

I went to the counter to pay for my coffee. As I was pulling out my wallet, I noticed a small display on the counter featuring Adams Sour gum. I had heard that Adams gum was available again after being gone for decades, but this was the first time I’d seen any in a store.

Years ago, when I was a young lad, Adams Sour chewing gum was available in seven flavors: apple, cherry, orange, grape, lemon, pineapple, and strawberry. I had tried and enjoyed most of these varieties but I was most enamored of the Sour Orange gum. I’d buy a pack and shove all five sticks into my mouth at once. If I was feeling leisurely, I’d unwrap them first.

But as the 1970’s faded away, so did Adams Sour gum, along with Marathon bars, PB Max, and my youthful exuberance.

Anyway, back to the present. Overcome by nostalgia, I took a pack each of the Sour Apple and Sour Cherry and placed them on the counter, telling the cashier how I’d enjoyed them as a kid and how much I missed the Sour Orange, which they hadn’t brought back.

I glanced up at the cashier. Young fellow, maybe mid-twenties. I was suddenly struck by our age difference.

Then I heard some words come out of my mouth. I don’t know where they came from. I’m sure I didn’t say them. But, there they were, loud and clear, hanging in the air between us:

“You’re probably too young to remember that.”

He smiled and nodded affirmatively, as I subconsciously reached for my long white beard to tuck it under my belt buckle.

“You’re probably too young to remember that.” Is there any phrase more associated with geezerdom? It wasn’t all that long ago that kindly old folks were saying that to me, and I was smiling and nodding patronizingly at them.

Now I’m the old guy. And a patronizing nod and smile is the best I can hope for. More likely, I’ll get a dramatic roll of the eyes and a withering “Whatever, Gramps.” Those dang-blasted smart-alecky young whippersnappers.

The cashier didn’t seem to be patronizing me. He was genuinely polite as I paid him $1.61 for ten sticks of gum. “I understand it was a lot cheaper back then, too,” he said.

“Yes, it was,” I replied wistfully, grasping my cane in my gnarled fist as I shuffled slowly toward the exit.

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