When I was a kid, I went to a birthday party for a guy who was turning 40. His cake said something like, “Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40.” I remember thinking two things about that. My first thought was, “Hey, that rhymes. I see what you did there.” My second thought was, “Man, 40 is old.”
So by my own childish standards, I’ll be old by the time you’re reading this. But as I write, I am 39. For real 39. Not the 39 that people say they are turning for 15 years because they don’t want to admit being old. But I say, if you’re old, wear it proud. That’s what I plan to do starting tomorrow morning when I wake up in my 40s.
No, I don’t plan on buying any pleated mom jeans for myself. I just don’t think that there’s anything to be ashamed of when it comes to turning 40. Think about. I grew up in Clayton County with a single mother. I beat the odds. I should be in a gang right now. Technically, I tried to start a gang about 30 years ago. It was a break dancing gang. I came up with the idea after watching the movie Breaking Two, Electric Bugaloo. Apparently no one else on my street saw that movie because they weren’t too interested in joining. One kid wanted to start a four leaf clover gang. It mostly involved sitting out in the front yard looking for four leaf clovers. There wasn’t a movie for that so I decided to pass. The gang life wasn’t for me.
But don’t think that I wasn’t living on the edge in some cushy suburban sanctuary. Oh no. I had a set of lawn darts. Maybe you forgot about lawn darts. Please allow me to refresh your memory. Lawn darts were javelins that you threw in your front yard in hopes of making them land in a plastic circle on the grass and not the cornea of your friend standing right next to said plastic circle. We survived.
I also had a Slip-N-Slide. I had one shortly before they were taken off the market because some kid dislocated his mulvia. My mulvia is still fully operational, thank you. That’s because I’m a survivor.
I also drank from the water hose. I have no idea how that can kill a man. I just know that it didn’t kill this man. Yet. Here’s to hoping that water hoses in the 80s weren’t constructed with some form of time released asbestos that finally kicks in when you turn 40. But for now, I’m still a survivor.
I played tackle football without pads in the street. Survivor!
I played baseball with an aluminum bat and a tennis ball because it was the only way that any of us could experience the joy of hitting a home run. Once my friend Eric experienced the joy of hitting me in the head with one of those aluminum bats. It hurt like crazy. But I’m still here. I’m a survivor.
Form the fifth grade until high school, I went to school with a key in my pocket and came home to an empty house. Today, that’s called child abuse. Back then I called it sitting at home eating spaghetti from a can and watching Red Dawn on HBO. Somehow, I survived. Wolverines!
I also listened to music that, when played backwards, told you to put your feet on the coffee table and talk back to your mother. My mom didn’t allow either. Mom 1, Def Leppard 0. I survived. Thanks, mom.
Finally, for most of the second part of my life, I’ve worked in churches. This can be more dangerous than any break dancing gang. In fact, if there was a street fight between break dancers from the wrong side of the tracks and disgruntled church members who want you dead for bringing their kids back 15 minutes late from Six Flags, my money is on the church folks.
Even the church folks who really like you can be a huge obstacle to you ever living to see 40. Their weapon of choice is fried chicken.
On Sunday night, one of those church folks gave me a gag gift. That’s what happens when you turn 40. The presents are making fun of you being old. This particular present had an aerosol can in it with the words Anti Aging Spray written on it. Now I’m no expert but technically, if you’re not aging, you’re dead. Keith Richards might not look so good but at least he’s still aging. Elvis on the other hand, probably got a can of Anti Aging Spray on the day that he died.
Hooray for aging.
And Lord, I’m not too good at rhymes so I’ll just say it plain.
Thanks for a good 40 years.
40 more would be alright by me.