Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A blogger grapples with forty

It is a largely nondescript Saturday evening.  A group of people have gathered in a restaurant.  There are candles on a cake.  Presents on a table.

There are forty-two or forty-three people in all.  I would count them later.  Why were they all here?  It must be bingo night.  Or they must be having a raffle or something, giving away cash.

No, they are here for me.  Some by choice, some because they're family -- they're required to love me.  There are aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, even a former co-worker and her husband.

I am caught off guard.  When my sister asked me out to dinner, I had been suspicious at first.  But by the time we arrived at the restaurant, I had forgotten to be.

There is a face cake, with me as a kid of probably seven or eight, with my Bo Duke hair, wearing a football jersey, shoulder pads, football pants, full uniform.  Funny thing, I never actually played football on a team or anything.  But still, a face cake!

My Mom was nice enough to bring an essay I wrote in grade school, "The Person I Admire The Most."  The person I chose to write about?  Axl.  He is at the party, and he is LOVING this.

"Come on, we were in the fourth grade!" I really thought we were.
"Bone, we were in seventh grade."
"What?  So I wrote this when I was like thirteen?"
"Oh... well... that is a bit more embarrassing."

He will milk the essay for every last drop.  I wouldn't expect anything less.  That's not to mention all the "You write like a girl" comments the essay drew. 

Elsewhere, Nephew Bone is proudly displaying Uncle Bone's age with his fingers. (Is this really the sort of thing we want to be teaching our children?)  Or attempting to anyway.  More times than not he winds up holding up four fingers on each hand.

There are the requisite gag gifts.  At least, I hope they are gag gifts -- Polident, chocolate laxative, and a Viagra bottle filled with M&M's.  At least, I hope they were M&M's.

It strikes me more than once during the evening that the next time this many people show up for me will be at my funeral.  Or wedding.  Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. (What? Either way, I'll most likely be in a suit and people will be crying.)

There is an ease to the evening.  A comfortableness.  But still, there is an underlying feeling I can't seem to escape.  A feeling of "I can't believe this is me."

And yet, it is.

I still feel twenty-five most of the time, save for maybe Friday evenings when a week of work and waking up at 5:30 has caught up with me and I fall asleep on the couch by 8 PM.  And yet, these candles on the cake betray me.

For...... ty.

There, I said it.  I admit it's been a little tough for me.  And yes, I know that if I live long enough, someday forty will seem oh so young.  I guess I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now, how I'm supposed to handle it.  Do I just pretend to take it all in stride, when suddenly life doesn't seem quite as long as it used to seem?

Am I not supposed to say that?  Is it taboo?   It's sure easier not to think about it, if only for sanity's sake.  So much more convenient to put it out of mind.

And yet, we mark the passing of these years with, of all things, candles.  Has ever there been a thing more symbolic of the life's impermanence than one of these?  Coming to life, burning to its peak of brightness, flickering for a little while, and then gone, all in a matter of moments.  (I don't know about you, but I think this is shaping up to be one of my funniest posts ever!)

I read a quote recently that I would butcher badly if I tried to paraphrase.  But the gist was that life is made up of a million instants.  There is this instant, and that instant, and as soon as they are here they are gone, a part of our past.

So there is right now, then there all the days of our past and all the days of our future.  And I suppose I have always tended to yearn for the larger of those.  When I was young, I longed to be older.  And now that I am older...

People have been saying all the usual things to try and be helpful/keep me from losing it:  "Life begins at forty."  "Forty is the new thirty."  Or even better, "Forty is the new twenty-five."  "You're just a baby."  (I gotta admit, it was refreshing hearing that from someone other than a current or ex-girlfriend.)   "You're not really forty,  you're eighteen with twenty-two years experience."  And my personal favorite, "Studies have shown that people who have the most birthdays, live the longest."

Still, it's just weird for me to think about not being here someday.  Me!  Bone!  I mean, take a moment and try and picture each of your lives with no Bone in it....

Not a few seconds, a moment...

Not a pretty sight, is it?  Didn't think so.  Here, have one of these odd-shaped blue M&M's.  They've sure been making me feel better.

I'll close with a photo.  My aunt who snowbirds in Florida sent me a birthday card.  Inside, she had included the newspaper clipping of my first birthday.

(My God, was I adorable!  I could have been the Gerber baby!   Kinda makes you wonder what in the world happened.)

She wrote, "I came across this handsome little boy.  Thought you'd like to keep it as I have all these birthdays.  Lots of love..."


It brought me to a complete stop.

Out of life's million little "instants," only a cherished few are able to do that.

"Guess my life's moved / At near light speed / Since I started this wild and crazy run / Such a long way / From that first birthday..."


  1. I prefer to think that I am 29 plus shipping and handling!

    I've been pondering many of the same thoughts as I close in on forty. Overall, I think I've done alright in the first four decades of life and wouldn't change much. Mostly though, I am learning to enjoy things more thoroughly, because the almost 40 me realizes that life goes by fast unlike the 20 something me.

    Enjoy your many family and friend Bone. I think I would struggle to get 20 people to show up much less twice that many!

  2. I love this
    I understand the disbelief--trust me on that one==and glad you had more people than your age at your party
    Again this is filled with little wisdoms!
    For the tenth time at least
    Happy Birthday Bone
    May it be your best year ever

  3. I say be glad you're still a couple years away from being as old as Nephew Bone is trying to tell the world you are ;)

    Aging is hard. Even just yesterday someone said something mildly insulting to 20-somethings and I started to take offense before remembering I no longer fit in that age group. Funny, though, in my mind I'm still 24 not 25.

    Love the photo. Your parents did something wrong - you COULD have been a Gerber baby! And do you know the money you would have now if you had been??? Wowzers.

    I think it's just nice so many people came out for you. :) Happy birthday. I hope 40 treats you well.

    PS: Axl?????? Really???? I hope that is dripping with sarcasm...

  4. I like you better at forty than at any other age.

    Don't analyze that too deeply.

    I suppose your new age, if it marks anything, marks the era when there are no more "shoulds." It's the zen stage of life, when you can just Be.

    Mostly, what I know at 45 is that I always had fun my whole life--damn good times--and yet I've had more fun in the past five years than ever before. It's just getting better.

  5. Happy Belated Birthday, Bone! Your "po-tay-to, po-tah-to" comment made me laugh out loud. And I smiled through all the rest of it, too...I still feel like I'm twenty-something in my mind, too - that never seems to change. Turning 50 was a big one for me...half a century is a lot to take in!

    Yep, you really were adorable when you were a toddler...somehow I think you're still adorable at 40, too. :)

  6. Oh gawd, nothings worse for a 52 year old to hear a youngster whine about being young!
    Enjoy it lad! I can tell you that you'll still be just as healthy and active when you turn 50!
    Happy Birthday!

  7. Ed - Yes, I'm definitely trying to enjoy each day more.

    Well, my Mom had a big family. Lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

    Pia - Thank you! Well, I suppose this is the age where I should begin dispersing little wisdoms :)

    TC - Your parents did something wrong

    I've heard that before, but it had nothing to do with the Gerber baby. Kidding.

    PS: Oh, I wish it were. Believe me, if I could go back and change one thing about my life, it would be that essay :)

    Jocelyn - Don't analyze that too deeply.

    Too late :)

    Well, you weren't around at 33. I was pretty fly then, if I do say so myself. And I do, because no one else probably is going to.

    Sherri B - Thanks, Sherri :) Maybe we are all that way, always 25 in our minds?

    MarkD - See, this is what I was fishing for. Someone slightly older than me to tell me it's going to be OK. Thanks!

  8. Happy Birthday! The milestone birthdays are the only ones that make me glad mine is a week before Christmas. Those were the ones that I didn't mind being kind of lost among everything else happening.

  9. I guess I should wish you a Happy Birthday here as I learned you never read your really should as there are a lot of birthday wishes there for you. ;o)

    We kept things nice and simple for hubby's 50th that also happened to take place on Tuesday. He never told us what he wanted for his Bday so we got him some nice shirts that were on sale...I'm hoping to finally get rid of shirts he is still wearing that are ones his mom bought him in high school...who knows, they could be from grade school knowing him. Hey, he's got the body of a.. taught, pre-teen, Swedish boy.

  10. I think you should post this essay. :-) I still have a 'WTF?' moment when I say my age. Unlike you (except for Fridays), I would peg my age at 16 so to say how old I am is really a shocker. On the happy side, it's nice to see the listener's respond with a heartfelt "Really?" accompanied by a furrowed brow as if they too can't believe it.

  11. Happy birthday, Bone, and written on Ash Wednesday, a day we're suppose to reflect on our mortality. I still remember my 40th birthday and I was glad some friends made it a great night.

  12. Happy Birthday, and you were adorable.

    I suppose I will one day regret lying about my age, making myself a year or two older in order to be taken more seriously.

    I often feel something following me. I thought it was an old stalker boyfriend, but now, thanks to you I am considering the possibly that it is merely time, not yet catching up, but soon I fear..

    I think forty is survivable, I hear people do their best blogging at forty. You are well on your way I think. You have been on fire recently.

  13. In my head, I'm definitely in my 30s, but yeah, I too am the big 4-0.

    Happy belated birthday!!

  14. "And I suppose I have always tended to yearn for the larger of those" - I've never thought of it that way, the reasoning behind the longing for an age we're not, but I like this way of looking at it. It makes sense.

    Happy birthday!

  15. Bone, This made me smile. Thanks for sharing your birthday celebration.
    You are loved.

  16. Susan - Makes perfect sense. For better or worse, Valentine's Day never provided enough of a hubbub to drown out my birthday.

    Renee - Hey, when we guys find a shirt we like, we stick with it! We're loyal. I'm like the worst Facebooker ever. I don't know why I even have an account. I suppose just to allow people to find me for Words With Friends, SongPop, etc.

    Murf - I probably should. I guarantee it would be the funniest thing I've ever posted here, hands down.

    When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I used to clean up at those booths at Six Flags where they try and guess your age. They always guessed me to be younger than I was.

    Sage - Thanks. Oh, I've definitely been reflecting lately. Like an over-cautious crossing guard.

    Cooper - Thank you, Miss Cooper. May you always be two steps ahead of time. And a thousand miles ahead of any stalker exes.

    Xinh - Thanks. It's nice to have similarly-aged friends to commiserate with :)

    Jenny - Thanks, Jenny.

    Daily Panic - Aww, thanks DP. Always good to see you here. Or anywhere. But as I really only see you here...

  17. Aw bone,this was so sweet,so moving. I knew from our little chats in wwf that you were feeling the affects of this milestone b.d. I won't try to give you any advice or quotes you've already heard, just a compliment... Your expressive,humorous, poignant writing gets better and better as you age! Like u! ;)