Turning 40- Read&Delete Style

September, 2001

Greetings, friends!

It's always a delete (excuse me- a delight) to hear from you.

This newsletter comes with a suggestion:

For those of you aged 40 and older-- please bear with me.... For those 39 and younger -- shut up-- your turn is coming.

      The hardest part of aging is----well....aging. When one turns 65, one is supposed to be entering upon the "golden age" of life- when they begin to relax and enjoy life, dispensing much needed wisdom to the younger generation (that doesn't listen anyway) and giving all their gold to their doctors. Hence the term "golden age."

       At 40 we are not old enough to accept the fact that we are old. For us, it is "plywood age." For a guy, it starts when he powers his way down the basketball court, faking out the other team with a series of slick moves, leaps gracefully into the air with cat-like precision, stuffs the ball through the hoop, and lands like a drunk falling down a flight of stairs. Next morning he is so stiff that you can pound nails into him. For a woman the "plywood age" comes when she looks into the mirror and sees her youthful glow turning into a coat of varnish.

       At age 35 the human body starts to decay. At 40 we start to notice it. (At 50 we admit it!) Our skeletal systems slowly turn into chalk, our joints begin to make noises like pieces of styrofoam being rubbed together, and become about as flexible as the Mosaic Law. Soon, polite teenagers (when we can find them) start calling us "sir", and "ma'am" to our faces. 
     At 40, men buy motorcycles, sports cars and monster trucks, and wear leather jackets, Dockers and Hush Puppies when driving them. Women start  making their great makeup pilgrimage from Clinique' and Estee' Lauder to Merle Norman and Dutch Boy. Our hair that isn't getting caught in the bathroom drain is turning shades of pewter, and romance moves into the bedroom-- because it isn't as much fun waking up on the kitchen floor nowadays. I won't talk about our diets-- except that we aren't allowed to even THINK about eating what we used to 'pig out' on as teenagers.
      Am I getting older? Yes. Am I depressed about it? No. If you make it to 40, you are doing better than Cleopatra, Mozart, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, JFK jr or Princess Diana. Even Jesus on earth never hit the big four - oh.
     Forty is a formality. Moses lived 120 years. Methuselah aged 40 years-- 24 times. Rose Kennedy made it to 104 -out of pure vindictiveness. George Burns died at 100, smoking a cigar, probably. Senator Strom Thurmond is still alive at ninetysomething, and still in congress-even though he might not realize it. Bob Hope is still around at 98, telling stale jokes to his nurses. In England, the Queen Mother is in her second century too.
Forty is a threshold year. At 40, (if we are honest) we realize that we are not kids anymore, and that we are in it for the long haul. All the garbage about a "mid-life crisis" is for middle-aged adolescents who fear not being able to extend puberty into another decade, and need to pile up toys and playmates just for their ego's sake. Just look at Hugh Hefner, who with the aid of Viagra is tottering around with 18 and 20 year old girls-
proving that in 76 years he still hasn't figured it out. Those who haven't grown up by the time they reach their fourth decade are not likely to do so soon.

     Did I just write this? It sounds like an editorial for Modern Maturity! Let me explain:

For those of you like me, who are totally dense, this month I turned 40. Of course it had to happen on the worst day of this year, September 11th. But so it is as so it is-- be that as it may, que sera, sera. On that Tuesday I was pretty depressed, and stayed that way until the week-end, when I was ambushed by Wendy and some good friends. Tuesday night I sent an e-mail to everyone telling them to forget my birthday and instead pray for the victims of the WTC attack. I made a decision to drive a stake through the heart of the whole birthday thing and just get it over with-- by going out to dinner on Saturday night with a few friends. It was a fun evening for me, actually being able to forget some of the stress brought on by Osama bin Laden. I
went home that night tired but relaxed. The next night, Sunday, Wendy, the boys and I went to our regular fellowship meeting (or so I thought) at the home of one of the couples we had dinner with the night before. When I walked in the door, all conversation stopped and the hosts just stared at me. So I said something really witty like, "All right, why is everybody staring at me?" (On these occasions my brain moves at the speed of light -passing through rock.) Then about 30 people yelled, "Surprise!" And so I aged about 20 years right there. 

     As it turned out, my wife, Mata Hari, had been planing this shindig for a couple of months, while her husband, Professor Befuddle, was toddling about out in the ether. The truth is, by accident I almost destroyed the party with Tuesday's e-mail. When Wendy saw it, she had to call everybody up and explain to them that I was totally clueless (About the party, I mean), and that the show was still on. On top of that, I show up unannounced at the hosts' house the day before the party - whilst they are stowing the party grub, and I invite them out for dinner that evening. And they came! Talk about endurance and dedication! They put up with me for two full evenings, let alone filling up their house with some of my friends.

(A quick thank you to all of you took part in this evening of deceit. I want to let you know that I really appreciate it, and that I am using your gifts, including the cane and "day-minder" pill box. I also want to let you know that I'll get even with all of you someday, somehow.)


Gotta go... The screen is getting blurry--- Oops! My bifocals are on
upside down!

Neil