In two days, I turn 44. No, please, hold your applause.
As birthdays go, it’s not exactly a milestone. Forty-four will not be “sweet,” nor is it my Quincean-anything. I will not reach a threshold for obtaining age-dependent items, like admission to R-rated movies or a medically indicated prostate exam. When I started drinking legally, Mark Wahlberg was still Marky Mark (though the Funky Bunch had disbanded by then). I’ve been voting since before Pete Buttigieg graduated middle school.
Speaking of which, I’ve been eligible to run for president for nearly a decade now. I really should file that paperwork … As soon as my son steps down from the board of directors of that Ukrainian energy conglomerate.
I’ve still got 21 years before I can collect social security — but only six until I can join AARP — and another two decades to teach myself that Beatles song on guitar. You know, the one about whether someone will still need (and feed) Paul McCartney when he’s 64? I think it’s called “I am the Walrus.”
Anyway, as of Feb. 25 — a birthday I share with Zeppo Marx, George Harrison, and the guy who played Thurston Howell III on “Gilligan’s Island” — I draw within 34.7 years of average life expectancy for an American male. Silver lining: that extra .7 of a year means I can catch one last PFD sale, so I can be buried with a gigantic plasma TV. What’s the afterlife without ultra-HD?
Of course, 44, itself, is an auspicious number. Forty-four happens to be the atomic number of ruthenium; Reggie Jackson’s jersey number; a variety of poker game; a gun caliber; the number of candles in a box of Hanukkah candles and, according to Wikipedia, an unincorporated community in Izard County, Arkansas, where you probably won’t find Hanukkah candles in any amount.
Now, 20 years ago, I turned 24. And I’ll tell you, I really don’t feel much older today than back at the turn of the century. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I mean, I take an ACE inhibitor, now. I contribute to an IRA. I bathe. But basically, I’m a cleaner, hypertensive, fiscally responsible version of my 24-year-old self.
Or at least that’s how I like to think of myself.
You see, as a wise man once said, “time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping … into the future.” And slipped, it has. These days, I don’t “fly like an eagle” as much I “groan when I stand up.” This ski season alone I’ve blown through a whole bottle of ibuprofen, and I mean the Costco ibuprofen — the “tallboy.”
Whenever I take a closer look at my life — and I mean actual introspection, not just scrolling through selfies of me looking introspective — I notice further differences.
At 24, it was wine, women and song. At 44, it’s club soda, kids and closed-captioning.
At 24, I’d drive hundreds of miles for a concert by a band I’d already seen hundreds of times. At 44, I’ll put Coffeemate in my cereal if it means not having to go to the corner for milk.
At 24, I wanted to rock and roll all night and party every day. At 44, I’m done by 9 — and only on weekends and holidays.
At 24, I could fit all my worldly possessions into a hatchback. At 44, my garage alone would need its own U-Haul. I’ll tell you this, Marie Kondo never lived in Southeast Alaska.
At 24, I thought I was the center of the universe. At 44, well, actually, I still kind of think that.
At 24, I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly a magnet for the opposite sex. At 44, all kinds of women call and text. Granted, they’re strictly looking for carpool drivers or childcare, but still, nice to feel desired.
One last thing … turning 44 does, however, mark one signpost. On Feb. 25, 2020, my driver’s license expires.
And so while I celebrated my 24th birthday watching the sun rise after a night bar-hopping in the East Village, I guess I’ll be ringing in 44 at the DMV. Maybe after, I can file my taxes. And then cap it off with a nap. Wicked.
• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday in Neighbors.