Sunday, September 11, 2016


No kidding, leaf peeper-ready and there we were: my new wife Diane and me, standing at the Cannon Mountain Tramway ticket desk, about to buy two round-trips. It wasn’t the first ascension for either of us, but it was our first together. Then came one of many elevations in the ups and downs of marriage, when the young woman behind the counter asked me if I was a “senior.”
Ack! It was the first time I’d ever thought of myself as a golden ager, and because the legal and social definitions can vary from one person, state, business or country to another, I found myself pausing in the awkward moment. She must have sensed my uneasiness because she quickly added, and with a little too much bubbly in her voice for my tastes: “Just to let you know, sir, if you are sixty-five and a New Hampshire resident, it’s always a free ride Monday through Friday!”
As a humorist, I call this kind of comment: praising with a faint damnation.
It just so happened that it was Sunday and I was sixty-five. She didn’t ask Diane her age, but I wasn’t offended. Diane is five years behind me (a junior-senior, I like to remind her), though she looks ten years younger, and now, at my age, if I was any younger I’d look the same. Must be the new beard.
“Well, can’t you pretend it’s Monday?” I said to the effervescing cashier. “The mountain won’t know the difference, and now that I’m apparently as old as them thar hills, I doubt it would mind.” She stared blankly at me, unsure of my footing.
My wife, although we’ve only been married a short time, knows my sense of humor full well, and she is often my dutiful but reluctant enabler. As she gave me a gentle piercing elbow nudge, she also looked at the hapless young woman and said to her, “You’re on your own, m’dear.”
I didn’t get the discount, and Diane, still five years away from complimentary weekday tram rides, got the tickets. Up (and down) the mountain we went, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’d failed.
Would I have better-enjoyed the ride and spectacular views if I’d been more attentive to the calendar and returned on Monday to cash-in on the laurels of my longevity and locale? You betcha! Had I lived long enough to richly deserve my free banker’s hours upward mobilities? Yes! Had surviving sixty-five Granite State winters entitled me to gratis mountain peak perks? Yes!
Now, where else had I come up short on the long-terms? When we got home, I got to Googling. I wanted to discover the host of grand New Hampshire places and events I could now attend at or near free, using my seniority and in-staterhood as the measures.
Aha! As it so often goes, I found myself finishing at the beginning when I learned that I can still, as of this writing, hit the slopes at Cannon this winter for no charge during the week (and hitting the slopes is a good way to describe my skiing.).
See you up and down there. Until then I’ll be discounting the days.

* * * * *
Senior Wire News Service Syndicated Humor Columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH. He is an author, humorist and agony uncle columnist. His latest book is “Walk Tall and Carry a Big Watering Can,” from Plaidswede Publishing. You may contact him via his website at Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.