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Lordy, lordy, look who’s forty

December 3, 2010 4 comments
Part of this year's twenty. Geez, I'm getting old.

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Shhhh.  Don’t tell anyone, but I am turning 40 this week.

I want to keep this a secret because of the pressure to do something big, or, even better, huge, to mark its passing.  In my circle, the unspoken rule is that you celebrate turning forty in grand style, and every decade marker hereafter.  It’s the middle of road, on the way to the end of the road, so in lieu of the ability to stop time altogether, we throw ourselves big parties.

Perhaps what you decide to do for your fortieth is yet another indicator of success.  I know of people who have done pilgrimages to Machu Picchu, taken their friends to Hawaii, done golf trips to Ireland, gone to Vegas, and many others who have thrown huge shakers with live bands.  In the Maritimes, I remember seeing the occasional lawn bedecked with several (perhaps forty, come to think of it…) pink flamingos and a big sign that read “Lordy, lordy, look who’s forty!”, but perhaps that is just a Maritime thing.  If how you celebrate it is an indication of achievement, I am an abysmal failure, because my deepest desire is to do nothing.

It is all so predictable and foreordained.  Like Valentine’s Day.  Who wouldn’t want roses any other day of the year for half the cost?

In the same vein, there are lots of things I want to do and places I want to see, and I suppose I could use my fortieth as an excuse to embark on my wish list, but I would rather just embark on my own accord, regardless of the calendar date.

I love my friends – there is nothing I like better than a great night out with my peeps.  But I deplore being the center of attention – my wedding, bridal showers and baby showers – any event that centered around me – are memories I cringe at; not my finest moments.  I love to celebrate other people’s birthdays, just not my own.  I’m comfortable with wall flower status, just let me fade to black in peace.

My desire to sweep this birthday under the rug has nothing to do with being melancholy about getting older.  I have no issue with aging.  I continue to feel better than I ever have, I’m fit, healthy, and happy, a wee bit smarter than last year I would wager.  I continue to look forward to the many benefits aging brings, like an empty nest, and wisdom.  I fail to see the significance of entering my 40’s as anything other than another day in my life.  As people start saying at this age, “it’s better than the alternative.”

The concept often bantered around – “it’s all downhill from here” – doesn’t alarm me in the slightest; like Mark Twain said,  “Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”  There are still things that excite me about the future, so what’s the big deal about crow’s feet and gray hair?  Marks of distinction, in my mind.  My looks were never one of my best qualities anyway; losing them can only help to level the playing field.

So I’m not bothered about the number,  I don’t care for the attention, and I feel like I celebrate my life on an ongoing basis.  But ironically I need to explain this to people, and although they nod and murmur something to the effect that they can understand my position, the look in their eyes reads, “you poor thing, no one would throw you a party?”

I’m celebrating in a small way; my way: with a few close friends over a boozy dinner at Chambar, my favorite restaurant, under the strict instructions that no one is to mention my birthday; and absolutely no gifts, although hugs and kisses will be gracefully accepted (and I might make an exception for a diamond tiara).  Hold the speeches and slideshow.

I am asking for one thing actually:  a new bike, just like my tenth birthday, incidentally.  After all, as Chili Davis said, “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”  Nothing says living more than flying down hills on your shiny new ten speed, in my book.

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