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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.

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