I have tens of tens of online acquaintances — what facebook calls “friends” — who have never met me in real life and probably wouldn’t care much for me if that were to change. Several of them were kind enough to throw kind messages at my “wall” on my birthday, because when there’s a birthday, facebook will just not. let. it. drop. And, as I stood there, hunched over the kitchen table at my laptop saying thanks to them all, Dog Number Five anthropomorphically smiled up at me and proceeded to pee on my shoe.
Thanks, I think. Maybe he was toasting the pissing away of my first 43 years.
When my dad turned 40, we surprised him where he worked at the fire station. We gag-gifted him with a black OVER THE HILL hat. It was all ha-ha aren’t you an old fart funny. Now I’m past that apogee by a good margin, moving along at a steady clip, yet I don’t feel any more grown up than I was on that particular day.
At least not like the grownups seemed to me back when I was all of ten years old. They had their proverbial shit together. From rebuilding an engine to macraméing a trippy hanging plant holder thing. Not a thing my folks couldn’t do. Responsible. Prepared, like a boy scout, for anything that might happen.
I don’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I know plenty of children my age or older. Some doing a better job at winging it than others, but all acting like school kids at recess when the teachers have gone off to smoke. A few are even cognizant of this.
The better-off grown up kids sit at the cool lunch tables openly shunning the grown up kids who have less, being total dickholes about it. We teach children not to act in ways for which adults are rewarded. Bullies in their larval state are dealt with, ultimately, by avoidance. Full-grown bullies become C-suite members and other climbers. Share and share alike will get you nowhere. As Vonnegut said, So it goes.
Sure there are some things that make me feel a bit like a grown-ass man. If I’m picking up dog poop, and a firm-enough turd rolls away from my mitt of toilet paper, I might just pick that shit up with my bare fingers. When I was a kid I was deathly afraid of needles and the notion of a hospital stay. Crohn’s helped me to get over that foolishness.
Dog shit and hospital visits. That’s about it.
As my 44th year is beginning (welcome to day #15,710!), I’m just a precocious kid, as old as I’ve ever been. I’m not a morning person. I’m selfish, thin-skinned, and socially maladjusted. I’m lazy and petulant. I will pout if I have to.
I have regrets and longings for the past, doubts and anxiety about the future, and confusion with some fear about the present. I should maybe be more worried at the moment, but I’m not. Could it be the buspirone is working? Maybe. I haven’t run in many weeks, so it can’t be exercise. I suspect it’s a mix between my Rx of better living through chemistry and having become a bit numb to certain anxieties.
I have to keep in mind that in the larger picture, it could always be truckloads worse. But, while that’s true, the future used to be the light of an over-sized moon reflected from the shiny shininess of a swell car. I need to feel that again. Remember that feeling? The future is gonna be fantastic.
Maybe the answer lies in figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. Then maybe I can grow up. I can’t keep thinking I’ll get around to being relevant one of these days. Statistics tell me that more than half of all my days are gone, and there’s not so much time to worry about what any of these other kids might think.
Time is moving scary fast. There’s a claustrophobic feeling of standing in a steadily-moving line for a thrill ride. I woke up somewhere along the way no longer young. There’s no CTRL + ALT + DEL. No do-overs.
(But they can’t eat you.)