123rf.com Stock Photo

123rf.com Stock Photo

A slacker looks at 42

  • By Geoff Kirsch
  • Thursday, February 22, 2018 1:56pm
  • Neighbors

Today, I turn 42, and as far as birthdays go, it’s not much of a milestone.

For instance, I don’t become a man (and then return, the next day, to seventh grade). My 42nd birthday isn’t “sweet;” nor is it my Quincean-anything. I don’t reach the threshold for obtaining age-dependent items, like, say, a driver’s license or medically indicated colonoscopy. When I turned 21, Zima was still available. I’ve been voting since before Jared Kushner was Bar Mitzvahed (and then returned, the next day, to seventh grade).

Speaking of which, I’ve been eligible to run for president of the United States for seven years, now. You know, I really should get cracking on my campaign. Anyone have a few Russian bots I can borrow?

But wait, there’s more. I’ve still got 20 years before I can start receiving Social Security benefits, but only eight until I can join AARP, at which point I officially become a grumpy old crank. Perfect. I’ve already started practicing.

As of today, I draw within 34.4 years of achieving average life expectancy for an American male. Silver lining there. That extra .4 of a year means I can catch one last tourist season, you know, stock up on all the T-shirts, tanzanite and bear claw salad tongs I’ll need in the afterlife.

Of course, while 42 may not be a landmark birthday, it’s still an auspicious number. Forty-two happens to be the atomic number of molybdenum; the jersey number worn by Jackie Robinson; the title of a song by Coldplay; the number of triangulations of a heptagon; the number of U.S. gallons in a barrel of oil and the age of James Bond evildoer Auric Goldfinger. Man, that’s pretty impressive… to reach that level of super-villainy, by 42? It takes some people well into their 70s.

And, last but not least, according to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” 42 is the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.” So I’ve got that going for me.

Anyway, exactly half my life ago, I turned 21. And I’ll tell you, I really don’t feel much older today than I did in 1997. Well, that’s not entirely true. I mean, I eat a lot more Tums, now. I carry life insurance. And launder my sheets. But basically, I’m just a more dyspeptic, hygienic, fiscally responsible version of my 21-year-old self.

Or at least that’s how I like to think of myself. But when I take a closer look at my life — and I mean not just scrolling through selfies, but actual introspection (or at least scrolling through selfies of me striking an introspective pose) — I can’t help but notice some differences.

For instance:

When I was 21, it was wine, women and song. At 42, it’s kombucha, kids and National Public Radio.

When I was 21, I wore Birkenstock sandals to be “counter-cultural.” At 42, I wear Birkenstock sandals to battle chronic plantar fasciitis.

When I was 21, I celebrated my birthday with a “magic” cheesecake and my first night out with a legal ID. At 42, I’m sure I’ll be celebrating it with some ibuprofen and yet another night in, streaming old episodes of “Forensic Files.”

When I was 21, I thought nothing of driving 700 miles for a concert by a band I’d already seen more than 100 times. At 42, I’ll eat my cereal with a mixture of Coffeemate and water if it means not having to go down to the corner for milk.

When I was 21, I thought I was talented and important, and that the world revolved around my talent and importance. At 42, well, actually, I still kind of think that.

When I was 21, I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a ladies man. At 42, I get phone numbers left and right. Granted, they’re strictly for my babysitting and carpool driving services — or my wife’s contact info — but still, it’s nice to be in demand.

When I was 21, I had a mess of flame-red hair that would’ve made Shaun White McTwist 1260 in his pants. At 42, I still have a mess of flame-red hair; it just appears to have relocated to my back.

When I was 21, I used to rock and roll all night, and party every day. At 42, the funk stops at 8 p.m. sharp, 9 on weekends and holidays (assuming we can find a babysitter).

When I was 21, I could easily fit all my worldly possessions into a hatchback. At 42, I could easily park a hatchback amidst all my worldly possessions and not even realize it was there until I started spring cleaning.

Last but not least, when I was 21, life was fun. At 42, I can only assume it’s going to be twice as fun. After all, I’m as old as two 21-year-olds put together. And these days, I probably weigh as much, too. Man, I need to lay off the cheese fries.


• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.


More in Neighbors

The Pinkas Synagogue, the second-oldest building in Prague. (World Monuments Fund photo)
Living and Growing: Connecting to family ancestors through names of strangers on a wall in Prague

“Prague never lets you go…this dear little mother has sharp claws.” —… Continue reading

Individual eggplant parmesan rounds ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Individual eggplant parmesan rounds

These flavorful eggplant parmesans are a great side dish, especially served with… Continue reading

An aspiring knight relies on duct tape for his medieval battle gear during the Master’s Faire on July 16, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Gimme A Smile: Duct tape — an Alaskan’s best friend

Duct tape is an Alaskan tradition. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix… Continue reading

Fred LaPlante is the pastor at the Juneau Church of the Nazarene. (Photo courtesy of Fred LaPlante)
Living and Growing: Be a blessing

Years ago, I learned a great acronym, B.L.E.S.S. “B” stands for “Begin… Continue reading

Salad ingredients ready to assemble. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Mexican corn and bean salad

Several years ago, I ate at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Los… Continue reading

A new online dictionary features Lingít, X̱aad Kíl, Shm’algyack and English. (Mircea Brown / Courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)
Neighbors: Sealaska Heritage Institute debuts multilingual online Alaska Native dictionary with audio

Platform includes resources for Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages.

Brent Merten is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Juneau, a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. (Photo courtesy of Brent Merten)
Living and Growing: Your room is waiting

Thursday, May 9, is a very special day. Although most calendars don’t… Continue reading

The interior of the Pipeline Skate Park on Dec. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Join interactive design meeting for Jackie Renninger Park on May 21 CBJ… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Living and Growing: Twisting Scripture to suit themselves

Ever wonder why so many different people say so many different things… Continue reading

The Ward Lake Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Neighbors: Public input sought as Tongass begins revising 25-year-old forest plan

Initial phase focuses on listening, informing, and gathering feedback.

Sister Sadria Akina, Elder Tanner Christensen and Elder Bronson Forsberg, all missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, collect litter on April 22, 2023, in the Lemon Creek area. It was their first time partaking in Juneau’s communitywide cleanup. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Annual Litter Free citywide cleanup on Saturday Saturday is set for Litter… Continue reading

Tortilla beef casserole ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Tortilla beef casserole for Cinco de Maya

When my kids were growing up their appetites were insatiable. Every night… Continue reading