Fifty Shades of Turning Gray Doesn’t Happen by Accident

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI rarely write checks at a store anymore.

Using a debit card is so much easier if I don’t have cash, which is usually the case.

But, yesterday, I happened to have the checkbook with me, so I wrote a check at the grocery store just for old time’s sake. I handed it and my identification to the clerk, who was still obviously in high school.

“Ooh! You have the same birthday as my boyfriend.”

“Not the same year, I hope.” (I’m quick like that.)

And, that’s when I saw what sheer terror looks like. Her face turned ashen, and her pupils dilated. Her hands trembled as she slowly shook her head and began to stammer, “N-n-n-o, no. No. Oh, no. Lord, no!”

She didn’t faint, but her knees buckled. The bag boy steadied her, and told her everything was going to be all right.

I exaggerate somewhat, but hers wasn’t the most tactful response.

I tried my best to stand straight, keep my chins up and suck in that gut.

“It’s not that ridiculous,” I said, before realizing it absolutely was in fact that ridiculous, and probably a felony to boot.

She told me how many fuel points I had before laying my receipt on the conveyor instead of handing it to me. It was a signal, I am certain of it.

Miraculously, I left without the aid of a medical device, though I felt 100 years old.

As I got in the Mighty Prius and pushed the start button, I saw a couple of brand new gray hairs glistening in the rearview mirror.

Then I thought to myself: “Your time’s coming, honey.”

You’ll experience the horror of cramming all night, then oversleeping through the exam.

You’ll break down on the interstate in the driving rain and wonder how 5,000 vehicles can pass you without one stopping, while simultaneously praying no one does.

You’ll get a letter from the IRS. It doesn’t matter what it says.

You’ll have to call the pediatrician in the middle of the night because your baby’s fever spiked to 105 and he can’t tell you where it hurts.

You’ll have times when something happens to you that is only supposed to happen to other people.

You’ll be scared when the phone doesn’t ring.

You’ll be scared when it does.

You’ll do some really stupid things.

You’ll bury your parents, and that’s only if you’re lucky.

You’ll see that first gray hair, which will multiply to 50 in the blink of an eye.

But, on the other hand, you’ll have a blast in college, buy your first car, get a job, have a family and accumulate a lifetime of memories and stories to tell. Some of them will be sad but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful.

We’ve all earned those gray hairs — the people my age, that is. We’ve been through all those things, and then some, and somehow lived to tell about it. We are painfully aware that our funeral-to-party ratio is spiraling out of control. Still, we know there is plenty of adventure out there to be had as long as we are not the guest of honor at the funeral.

And, here’s the part that the girl at the cash register cannot possibly understand yet:

We wouldn’t trade ages with you and your boyfriend if we could. We are way too smart to go back there. You’ll understand it soon enough. Don’t rush it.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him:

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