Sunday, February 11th, is my birthday.
My THIRTIETH birthday.
I will be 30 years old.
My car was assembled by a team of 113 machinists, 4 large robots, and a big-ass conveyor belt in a state-of-the-art factory in Detroit. I was assembled by my parents. In a lumpy bed with a brass frame in a tiny, drafty house with holes in the roof and poor heating in Darien, New York. No engineering was involved. I’m pretty sure there was some vodka involved, but that’s another story…
My car’s transmission exploded four years after I brought it home.
On Sunday, I will have outlived my car by 26 years, with no major repairs or rebuilds.
The way I see it, the alarm clock will go off, I’ll roll over, look at the time, and my legs will fall off. If I’m lucky, it will just be my legs…
Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t think I’m getting old. I think that I’m getting grown up. When you’re thirty years old, you can’t just fall down on the floor and start crying when the clerk won’t give you another lollipop. Well, I mean, you can, but you tend to get taken away by nice young men in their clean white suits… Anyway, it’s not an option, trust me. When you’re 29, you can do that shit all day long, and then just blame it on a wild drinking binge and your friends will laugh about it for weeks…
When you’re 30 years old, you’re supposed to be responsible. You’re supposed to know what to do. I don’t know what the hell to do. Never. I once set my shirt on fire when trying to light a candle (long story). I was at a dinner table – there was a pitcher of water in front of me, a vase with flowers and water in the center of the table, a large, heavy cloth napkin in my lap, and a fire extinguisher on the wall behind me. What would you do? Well, any 30 year old can probably tell you how the quickly decided to attempt to douse the fire with the vase or the pitcher, or smother it with the napkin, or, in the worse case, use the fire extinguisher.
Wanna guess what I did?
Well, first thing I did was laugh and go “Hey, my shirts on fire!” just in case the large flames licking up the front of it didn’t clue people in. Then, in an amazing feat of dexterity, I leapt up from the table, ran around it three times (yes, exactly three times), and then I grabbed a knife from off the table – because I was going to cut the burning part off of my shirt.
Luckily for me (and the rest of the building, I imagine), Kwipette was present. She grabbed me by my belt buckle, threw me down onto the floor, and dumped the pitcher of water over me. Now, Kwipette is not thirty. She is several years younger than me, in fact. But she’s one of those people that just know what to do. I think it has something to do with being a woman. Not being a woman, I can only speculate. But she is perfect for me – she’s mature, responsible, sexy as a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and more fun than heavy machine guns in a suburb.
And what’s more, she’s grown up. Balance a checkbook? No problem. Remember a birthday? Got it. File your taxes? Done by February first.
This is the sort of stuff that leaves me wandering aimlessly through the streets, usually having forgotten my pants and frightening the small children. I don’t know how to be grown up. I always assumed growing up that there’d be some point, around mid- to late-twenties, where I’d get married, have a successful career, and just be happy and all-knowing. Like dad’s are supposed to be. I’d make terrible jokes at the dinner table, tell long, meandering stories to my children about what it was like when I was there age, embarrass them in front of all their friends, start projects in the basement that never got finished – well, you know, basically be like Homer Simpson, the great 20th Century role model for fathers everywhere.
But now 30 is staring me right in the face, and I am as clueless as ever. I think, if lives depended upon it and I was ordered by the President with promises of prestige and power, that I could change a diaper. I mean, hell, I’ve seen the commercials, I know the “special re-sealing tape” goes on the outside; how hard can it be? (Five years from now, when my children are walking around with napkins duct-taped to their bottoms, we’ll remember that foolish comment and laugh…)
Can I still play games as a thirty year old? Can I go out hunting the mean nasty PKs with the boys? I don’t think so. I think that I have to put the bow up. I think that if I try and go out and raid someplace, I’ll just fall down, shoot myself, and some little smart-ass kid will be standing over me going, “Let me help you up, grandpa. It’s really too late for you to be out here, you know.”
Come to think of it, that’s not very different from what hunting is like nowadays for me…hrmm….
I think this is what Peter Pan would’ve felt like if Captain Hook had killed and gutted all the Lost Boys, fired Tinkerbell out of a cannon, and then used his hook to give Peter a prostate exam…
I don’t wanna grow up. No, I’m not a Toys-R-Us kid… but I’m sure as hell not an ‘adult’. I don’t want people calling me ‘sir’ or little upstart bastards holding the door for me! I don’t want to carpool with Jerry and Tim and Susan and talk about how much my back hurts this morning or if I’ve noticed any new grey hairs in my head or stocks or politics or any of that grown-up crap! I want to be able to eat with my hands when I go out in public! I want to loose myself completely in movies, not think about ‘Oh, sure, I bet he could afford the insurance on THAT sports car! Hell, the mortgage payment alone would be killing him! And that’s SO not his hair!’ I don’t want my old friends I haven’t seen in a long time ask me if I’ve got any freakin’ children yet! I’m not old enough to have kids! I want to get carded when I go to bars! I want to ride in the cart when we go grocery shopping! I want to believe in magic! I want to believe that fairy tales DO come true and that it’s still possible for the good guy to win no matter what the odds are! I want my mommy to come tuck me in at night! I want her to tell me everything is ok! Dammit! I DON’T WANT TO GROW UP!!!!
Kwipette says, “Let’s eat Ben & Jerry’s BEFORE dinner! Woot! And after dinner we’ll light a fire in the fireplace and play X-files alien probe!”
You say, “Whoo-hoo! Slap my butt and call me Mulder!”
Okay… maybe being a grown up has SOME advantages…