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OPINION

FISCHETTI: The art of looking old

By Peter Fischetti
Special to The News Herald | USA TODAY NETWORK

In response to last week’s column about the bowl I made at woodworking class, I received a nice note from Crissy Heath. She wrote: “What a beautiful bowl!!! So if I’m not old enough and want to attend the Senior Center, do I need to disguise myself as an old lady to get the discount? Just checking.”

I’m glad Crissy, who’s in her early 50’s, checked with me. The short answer is yes. (It’s also the long answer, but I don’t have time to get into that.)

If you still want to pursue this, Crissy, the first thing to do is practice parking at Publix. The key is to park at a 45-degree angle to ensure you’ve taken up two spots. You’re likely to get a dirty look from someone nearby, which will prompt you to say, “Keep walking or I’ll start yelling, ‘Elder abuse.’”

The Super (Dooper) Bowl built by the author

While you don’t need a walker, buy one anyway, and learn to clip the heels of anyone in front of you. Apologize, of course, but blame it on your vision.

Appearance is crucial. While gray hair is associated with old people, lots of seniors color their hair, and you should too. The key is to have it done by someone after she’s had a few drinks.

How should you dress? Nothing fancy, of course. I’m no expert, but “early thrift store” is in vogue these days.

You’ll be asked a few innocuous questions at the front desk, and responding in a confused state will help. Question: “Will you be paying in cash?” Your answer: “No, I don’t smoke hash.”

At that moment, two teens whom you’ve recruited will burst into the office, call out “Grandma” and give you a big hug. One will hand you a package and explain, “Granny, you forgot to bring your hearing aid. And here are the dentures you left on the dinner table last night.”

That should do it. You’ll be given a membership card and directed outside to the woodworking area. One of the instructors will introduce himself and show you around, pointing out the lathes, chop saws and a band saw. Show some enthusiasm but resist asking dumb questions like I did on my first visit. So don’t look at the band saw and ask if it played Glenn Miller.

Peter Fischetti is a retired journalist from Southern California, which he hopes you won’t hold against him. He lives in Panama City Beach.