40th Birthday Successfully Celebrated Without Alcohol, Adultery, or ’80s Pop Nostalgia

My 40th birthday, the impending milestone that inspired me to begin chronicling the effects of the aging process on my perceptions of the world around me, has come to pass. The prophecy bespoken by no one in particular has been fulfilled!

With this brand new decade, I expect my body and mind to fall apart a little more quickly. I’ll question my life’s purpose and usefulness a little more stubbornly. I’ll gripe a little more loudly about the entertainment industry and how they cater to everyone’s whims except mine. I’ll be slightly less tolerant of those pesky kids on my lawn, though not quite perturbed enough to chase them myself. All of this assumes it the Lord’s will for me not to drive headlong into a concrete wall tomorrow morning, of course.

So far, no sign of any amplified angst.

It’s my understanding I should be depressed about aging, fussing about my hairline, and wishing I looked hot even though I’m blissfully married. None of that happened today. Admittedly, I already survived the hairline phase last year. I’m glad it hasn’t lingered. I don’t look forward to its resurgence in the future. When it comes to prices we have to pay, though, the hairline is a bargain.

Truth is, I don’t miss my mandatory young-stupid-male years. I’m much more content as a non-young man than I ever was in any given school year. I didn’t spend today moping or waxing nostalgic or listening to ’80s hits over and over again like some of my peers do, as if old Madonna singles were like some kind of aural Fountain of Youth.

My last day at 39 was spent working and playing Final Fantasy VI with my son. My first day at 40 was spent working and dining with family at Bazbeaux Pizza. The two days weren’t radically dissimilar. Yesterday I earned virtual treasures; today, I was blessed with intangible presents and also happened to receive a few tangible ones. I stayed up late last night to confirm I didn’t turn wrinkly or crotchety upon the twelfth peal of the nearest ominous church bell.

Maybe I’m more mellow than I should be because NBC spoiled me with three solid new episodes of Community in a single night. Those alone made today the complete polar opposite of my twelfth birthday, the evening of which I spent wracked with stomach pains while on TV Bobby Ewing was killed in an accident on a show I didn’t want to watch. Fortunately my pain and his death were each temporary. I had thought the show was, too. How generous of Hollywood to knock a perfect score down to two-out-of-three some 28 years after the fact.

This song, I think, sums up my current state of complacency, however misplaced or fleeting:

Just the same, I’ll be steering clear of any and all concrete walls tomorrow. You never know which one has your name on it.

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