OK, so let’s get this over with, shall we?
Or, as the balloon says, “Oh NO … the Big Four OH!” (because this balloon apparently was designed by someone who thinks turning 40 is so universally awful that people will actually pay money to decorate their celebration with an enormous Mylar blimp that basically says “Embrace the dread, you ancient fuck!” … which would be funnier if not for the fact that we bought one).
That show “Thirty Something” that I never watched when it was on, because it was about old people? Yeah, well, it’s about young people now.
The good news is that I spent so much time during the past few months (years?) dreading my 40th birthday that I was sort of over it by the time the day actually arrived. OK, so maybe I’ve since gone back to lamenting my decrepitude and mortality, but on the actual date of my birth, I was feeling rather upbeat.
Now, as those of you who were here last year know, the Surprise 39th Birthday Celebration Gone Awry left me, shall we say, underwhelmed … and, sure, that mostly was because I’m a grumpy asshole, true … but it also was because it actually was planned by, and for, my children, and didn’t much take into account what the birthday
dickhead boy himself would really want to do.
In retrospect, it was a good call for everyone to learn that lesson on my 39th birthday rather than on my 40th … because I really needed this one to keep me from crumbling into a weeping, geriatric, broken-hipped heap on the floor … and so it is with great joy that I tell you that, on Jan. 17, 2010, Wonder Woman hit one right out of the park.
This year, my wife and kiddos threw me a “Guitar Hero”-themed birthday party, which was beyond perfect, because, since I’m way too much of a
pussy stand-up guy to have a proper midlife crisis marked by purchasing a convertible and running off to Mexico with a younger woman, I have instead taken to soothing my inner adolescent by playing a video game that showers me with canned applause and assures me that I “ROCK!” Yeah, baby!
But it wasn’t just the new copy of “Guitar Hero: Metallica” that made the day a success; it was the copious amount of tequila I drank:
I kid … sorta. I really did drink lots of tequila … but, actually, the thing that made the day so memorable was the fact that my nearest and dearest family members all went out of their way to be with me … and gifted me tons and tons of alcohol.
I kid some more … sorta. They really did give me tons and tons of alcohol … but they also treated me to the most touching tribute I’ve ever received.
My parents busted out the baby photos …
Here, take a closer look:
You see, back when I was an infant, baby formula was made with whale blubber and cream cheese. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s history lesson.
Wonder Woman then unveiled a trunk she got for me as a kind of 40th-birthday time capsule, and my family took turns filling it with various photos and memorabilia, to include tributes many of them had written and read aloud, and, like, wow.
My late grandfather once said to me something along the lines of, “You know, you go to a guy’s funeral, and everybody says all these amazing things about him, and all I can think to myself is, ‘Well, you shoulda told him all of that while he was still here!’” Well, I am happy to say that I have now been fortunate enough to experience my own funeral. Wait, that didn’t sound right. But you get the idea: my family told me how they truly feel about me — and I didn’t even have to die for it! Thanks, family!
First up was my Dad.
And I quote: “As a young baby, you were very precocious, talking at 9 months old … and you haven’t stopped since. Although, blogging has taken the place of the spoken word.”
Then came my Mom, who not only exumed a shadow box containing some delicious 40-year-old Froot Loops, but also one of my first baby outfits.
Hearing your parents talk about you being a baby when you yourself are a parent of two young children is a perspective you can’t even begin to appreciate until you actually get there. It’s almost worth turning, you know, FORTY.
My siblings then took turns feting me, with my sister reading from a book she made that contained some of her memories about my childhood (let’s just say that the word “breakdancing” was invoked), as well as some remarks she had secretly gathered via email from a number of my childhood friends.
My brother and closest cousin each also said some incredibly flattering things about how much they looked up to me when we were younger, and since we usually show our love by simply busting each others balls, it was very touching to hear their words. (My brother also reminisced about as an ass-whupping I once bestowed upon him, of which I’ve no recollection whatsoever, and by which he was greatly traumatized, so to him, I say: thank you for your touching words, and sorry for beating the shit out of you.)
My favorite uncle gave me quite a tribute, during which he read from a list he had made of all things 1970, to include:
- Nixon was President
- Bread = 25¢ a loaf
- Milk = $1.25 a gallon
- Gas = 35¢ a gallon
- Stamp = 6¢
- Minimum wage = $1.60
- No microwaves, cell phones, computers or cable television
I think the only thing he forgot was the part about dinosaurs roaming the earth. (Meanwhile, he also gets line of the night for the following tribute-list item: “There was no Jeter, no Tweeter … and no Peter.” Peter is my sister’s husband, who wasn’t yet born in 1970, you see, so … oh, nevermind. Sometimes I have to include stuff that’s just for me, OK?)
My Dad’s wife bestowed upon me a poem (which I believe was written by the late James A. Michener):
The master in the art of living
makes little distinction between his work and his play,
his labor and his leisure,
his mind and his body,
his information and his recreation,
his love and his religion.
He hardly knows which is which.
He simply pursues his vision of excellence
at whatever he does, leaving others to decide
whether he is working or playing.
To him he’s always doing both.
Surely words to live by … and I like to think I have been.
Meanwhile, Zan and Jayna, who live for bithday parties, had a ball, and their excitement for me was very sweet … especially because it didn’t involve freezing my choochas off at an indoor waterpark. (Yes, folks, if you have a deceased horse that needs some pulverizing, let me know, for not a person on this earth can beat one quite like yours truly.)
Of course, my deepest thanks and appreciation for what turned out to be the most meaningful birthday I’ve ever had goes to Wonder Woman, whose Facebook status message on that day read:
Happy birthday to the most passionate, dedicated, hard-working and loving man I know. Looking forward to the next 40, and then some! XOXOX
Me too, babe. Thanks for my amazing birthday.
PS: Turns out I actually am running off to Mexico with a younger woman in honor of my 40th … but more on that later …
(See what I did there? It’s my job to suck you in … and boy, am I ever good at sucking, right? Wait, I mean … oh, nevermind.)