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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Definition of "a mixed blessing"...

The senior discount.

On Labor Day, Terry and I were scouting around for something fun to do after we had dutifully done a dumptruck load of laundry and then replenished the barren larders of Casa Donohoo-Cooney from the Starbucks-enhanced aisles of our local Jewel-Osco. We threw together a fab lunch of salad (with amazing 25-year-old balsamic vinegar and truffle-infused EVOO from Wisconsin entrepreneur The Oilerie) and a grilled fontina, tomato, and basil sandwich, and both knew we had to do a couple of hours of actual work before we could go anywhere, but we decided to go to the movies. 

Anyone who actually likes good movies knows that nothing of any value to an adult is released between Memorial Day and the end of August. But this year, three exceptions popped up a little early. At least, they appear to be exceptions, based on their trailers, and we've gotten pretty good at sniffing out emo crap and vampire flicks, maybe the way those special dogs can tell if you have diabetes. So it was going to be either the Irish psychological drama Calvary, or the Helen Mirren food porn flick The Hundred Foot Journey, or the ripped-from-the-NCR-headlines story of the fallout from the firing of a Catholic school teacher for his marriage to his partner of nearly forty years, who happens to be another man. This latter movie, Love is Strange, starring the sempiternally panicked-looking John Lithgow and the gorgeous, mellifluent Alfred Molina as the lovers and dishy Marisa Tomei as Lithgow's niece-in-law, was the one we chose.

In limited release, Love Is Strange was playing no closer than about 25 miles away in Evanston, but the pull was strong and we decided to make it to the rush hour (4:20) show and eat dinner somewhere in the shadow of Northwestern University. Downtown Evanston is a happening place, but we were able to park and get to the theater with a few minutes to spare. Not surprisingly, considering its release in only two theaters in all of Chicagoland, the theater was packed except for the three or four rows in front of the front aisle, the whiplash section. (In the OMG trailers department: the movie that looks like it might be the one not to miss this fall is the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. The authenticity of the actors and action were breathtaking. I embarrassed Terry—not an uncommon occurrence—when I screamed at a scene when Hawking had an early attack of his disease and hit his head on the floor with a Skywalker-Sound-enhanced crack! I was still shaking when the main feature started.) Finally, our movie started.

I'm not going to say anything about the movie itself, except to say that it's a wonderful little film that is filled to its rent-controlled walls with thespian giants who love their subject matter and are completely believable in the agony and ecstasy of their roles. It is certainly my hope that art of this caliber will touch some hearts and help to pave the way for a relaunch of Catholic thinking about love, gender, and marriage. Its tenderness and pathos is enhanced by a musical score that features the music of Chopin, notably a Chopin nocturne and the "Berceuse" in D-flat. So that is enough about the movie, because one person's review is another person's spoiler, or worse, mood-killer. Please don't let anything I said about the movie keep you from seeing it!

But, as Arlo Guthrie put it, that is not what I came here to talk about.

See, when I looked at the ad for the Century Cinemark theaters in Evanston, it caught my eye that it was Senior Discount Monday, and upon further investigation, I was momentarily delighted to find that I qualified for the discount, which amounted to about 50% of the ticket price. Momentarily, I say, because really what had just happened was that Cinemark theaters paid me $6.50 to tell me that I was past the threshold of my dotage, and they were just helping me start to save to pay the deductibles on my Medicare coverage in a couple of years. The years of privilege, paying full price for things as a productive member of society, were over. I qualified, for the first time in my life, I think, for the Senior Discount.

Mind you, it's only one day a week, and it's a pretty low-ball age at which they let you into this Methusaleh club. Sixty-two. It's still a good five years before I can even think about actually retiring, and that's if I can manage to win the lottery between now and then, or the next president and Congress collude on forgiving both college loans and home mortgages, or by some twist of fate I write the next "On Eagle's Wings" or "Mass of Creation." I think I've been getting membership offers from AARP for seven or eight years, but I toss them into recycling, assuring myself they have the wrong address, or have suffered some other computer-generated delusion about me. 

However delusional on the vendors' part it may be, I think I'll take advantage of their liberality for as long as it lasts. If getting older can buy me a movie ticket, hotel room, or pizza for a few dollars less, who am I to argue? I'm saving for that midnight blue Jaguar X-type that I'll need when I hit my midlife crisis in a few years.