As I write this it is January 23, 2014 which makes today exactly thirteen days before my forty-sixth birthday. I can remember as a child getting very excited in the weeks and days prior to my brthday. There was going to be cake! Presents! A party! The approaching anniversary of my birth meant all kinds of wonderous things and the day, in my mind, was second only to Christmas.
Today, not so much.
I know it doesn’t really matter at all in the great scheme of things, but in recent years (okay, probably about the last twenty years or so), I’ve found that my approaching birthday makes me feel trepedacious at best and downright depressed at worst. The arbitrary number that represents my age increases by an increment of only one year, sure, but, even back when that number started with a 2, I just couldn’t help but feel… old.
It’s probably my own fault, I know. I tend to do all sorts of things that are generally associated with younger people. I play video games, I practically live on various social media, I have an Instagram account (and tend to spend a lot of time talking to women I meet there who are half my age – and that’s depressing in itself: they’re half my age or less but are still technically women as opposed to girls). I read comic books and watch movies about zombies. I refer to myself (even on this very blog) as a “middle-aged teenager.” I’m a big kid and generally proud of it. Then I remind myself that I’m 45 (46 in those aforementioned thirteen days) years old and doing all these things and I get all weird inside and I’m ready to break out the Geritol and the Depends.
I suppose disliking the fact that we are aging is really a part of the human condition. We have a lot of general concepts in our society that deal with our respective ages. We say “age before beauty,” and, “It’s impolite to ask a woman her age.” We’ll refer to people as “X years young” even when the “X” is actually a number as high as 90. We refer to people as “young at heart.” Why do we do these things? I suspect because Man is the only creature on this planet who is consciously aware of his own mortality. We know that we are going to die; we just don’t like to think about it. Barring things like accidents, illnesses, and acts of violence the thing that kills most of us these days is that dreaded old age.
So, that’s why I suppose I don’t like the idea of turning from 45 to 46. I’ll be now one increment closer to dying of old age (if my obesity, my likely inherited poor heart, or my smoking habit don’t kill me first). So, yes, I’ll be 46 on February 5, 2014… if I make it. If I don’t, do me a favor and have some cake and ice cream for me, will ya? Play Birthday from The Beatles’ White Album a time or two and ogle a twenty-something woman on my behalf. I’d have liked that.