Sure, I may have turned thirty last Saturday, but if you subtract all the time I’ve spent sleeping or playing Warcraft III, I’m really only about four years old. Even so, the round birthdays are the most traumatic, a tradition that begins with birthday number zero, when you have to learn how to breathe air and your gills stop working.
Thirty is a sneaky little birthday. It takes forever to turn twenty-one, then you watch a few Seinfeld reruns and BANG! Thirty catches you. Time to buy some sensible shoes.
Some of my buddies are having a tough time getting their heads around the idea of turning thirty. We’ve all felt the weight, real or imagined, of other people’s expectations of us at this point in our lives. In regards to measuring up, though, things should be pretty smooth from here on out. Nobody expects anything more of a thirty-six year-old than they do of a thirty year-old, except maybe longer nose hair.
My wife Kara did her best to put me in the clouds on this daunting birthday. At about 5:45am, a time that previously existed to me only in folk tales, she shook my shoulder and said, “I’m going to take a shower and get dressed now.”
“Mmph. Whatever,” I said, relieved that the news didn’t affect me.
“Then you’re going to get up, take a shower and put on some warm clothes,” she replied.
“That’s a good one,” I mumbled. An hour later, we were taking our first hot air balloon ride. When you’re on the ground watching a balloon, you don’t quite get the same sense of how powerful those burners really are. Man, what I could have done with one of those things when I was twelve.
Floating above the countryside at sunrise is really much more peaceful than it should be, given that your life is depending on the tensile strength of cables thinner than your shoelaces.
“See those big round hay bails down there? Those are illegal now,” our balloonist told us. We’d never met a balloonist before, but if this one was any indication, they are very pleasant people. He had an excellent balloonside manner.
“Why’s that?” Kara asked.
“The cows weren’t getting square meals,” he replied. We’d drifted another mile before we got the joke. Our senses of humor don’t click on until about noon.
So now that I’ve climbed a good deal higher up the Great Pyramid of Geezer, I feel that it’s my duty to share everything that I’ve learned so far in life with our younger readers. Here is the list, in its entirety:
1. “Quart” is short for “quarter of a gallon.”
2. If you walk around the mall wearing a Bluetooth earpiece when you’re not even talking to anyone, there may very well be no hope for you.
So there it is, the accumulated wisdom of thirty years. In case there is any doubt, I’m qualified to share this knowledge by the dozens of gray hairs multiplying just above my ears. Everyone loves to say that gray hair makes a man look distinguished, but I really don’t have a problem with remaining as indistinguished as possible. At least my forehead is still charitable enough to offer me the occasional zit.
As I ponder the finer points of growing older, like the most effective way to shake one’s fist when hollering, “Get off my lawn!”, it makes me feel a little better to know that the milk I put in the fridge when I was in my twenties will still be good on the cereal I eat for dinner tonight.
My thirties have gotten off to a good start, thanks in no small part to support of friends and family. For example, here is a birthday email I just received from my sister-in-law Sarah: “HAPPPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR MIIIIIIIIIIIIKE, I’M SOOOOO MUCH YOUNGER THAN YOU.”
You can chug Metamucil with Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.