My inner youth has a thrill at the liquor store.

When I look in the mirror lately, there’s a curious older woman looking back.  She has grey hair at the roots, some wrinkles, and two age spots on her cheek.  Oh yeah that’s me, I have to remind myself.

Years ago, before the older woman showed up, when I was well into my 40s, I got carded at a grocery store.  Among the apples, eggs and a family pack of chicken pieces was beer for my husband. It was a day I didn’t have much makeup on, my hair pulled back in a ponytail. I even remember the red shirt I wore.

As my groceries slid down the conveyor belt, the cashier grabbed hold of the 6-pack and asked for my ID.  I glanced up, then turned to the person behind me, thinking the cashier was talking to them.  Nope – they had no beer.  I looked back to the cashier and said with a big smile, “Really?”

But then I thought, OK, this is a scam. I am so gullible, I’m not getting caught this time.  So I looked around for hidden cameras, as I dug in my purse for my license.  A little giddy, I asked the cashier“Is this some kind of a joke?  Are there hidden cameras somewhere?”  She just shrugged, checked my ID, then handed it back. I thanked her profusely and told her she made my day as I floated away inches off the floor.

I came home to brag to my husband. He was happy for me, said of course I looked great, gave me a big hug.  Then he reminded me that stores were now asking for IDs from everyone who looked under 35.

Thud.  (That was the sound of my feet hitting the floor.)  

Oh, that’s right, I thought.  Still, I’ll take it.

Now, I’m in my late 50s. I really didn’t think it would ever happen again.  I thought I would have to settle for NOT being asked for my AARP card.

But, guess what?  It happened again.  Just last week.  I went into a liquor store for a bottle of wine.  The cashier asked to see my ID.  I joked, “Oh, are you asking anyone who looks younger than 60?”

She said, “No! You’re not 60?”

“No, but I’m pushing it,” I answered as I pulled out my license.

She took my ID and made some kind of exclamation, then showed it to the young cashier next to her.  He laughed politely, probably thinking that everyone over 30 looks ancient – what’s the difference in a decade or two.

I did my shtick about hidden cameras, because, really, could she be serious?  I mean, I have been asked if I want the senior discount at the movie theater.  I teased her that it must be a marketing ploy, as I would certainly never buy my wine anywhere else ever again.  As before, I floated out, feet not touching the floor.

It’s nice to know that my inner youth stills shines through from time to time.  I don’t think she’ll show up again in a liquor store – my recent ID thrill was probably my last – and that’s OK.  I’m learning to love my older self in the mirror, wrinkles and all.  She doesn’t look like how I feel, but she’s like a fine wine that gets better with age.  Within her will always be my inner youth.  And I’ll take it.


  • Karen DeBonis

    Karen DeBonis writes about motherhood, people-pleasing, and personal growth, the entangled mix told in her memoir "Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived" forthcoming in spring 2023. Subscribe today to receive Chapter 1: A Reckoning.

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