Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Turning 40

I went to another Human Powertrain Warranty Expiration gathering this weekend. You might know them by the more common term – 40th birthday party.

I’m not sure when the trend began, but the 40th birthday seems to be the really big celebration these days. The spouse of the warranty expiree usually throws a huge party. My wife took me on a surprise three-day weekend getaway with friends. I threw my wife a surprise party at our house with about a million people. We had friends who rented out an entire restaurant. It’s crazy!

The parties are fun, but they are a conflicted celebration at best. What are we really celebrating? No one wanted to turn 40. There has never been a 20- or 30-something on earth who has thought, “Can’t wait to turn 40! That will be amazing!”

Every human approaches “The Big 4-0” with the same thought: “Holy %&*#! I’m about to turn 40! How the hell did that happen!?” Every person under 40 at the party is thinking, “better them than me,” and every guest over 40 is thinking, “that poor bastard has no idea what they’re in for.”

That’s because 40 is the year that your entire body stops working like it used to. Your vision blurs. Your hearing degrades. Your feet and knees hurt. Your tendons and ligaments become brittle and weak, as if your muscles are now attached to your bones with those wooden coffee stir sticks. Your hips ache if you sit for too long. You can cripple your lower back for weeks by stepping off the bottom stair a little weird. You can actually hurt yourself by sleeping.

The 40th birthday is the turning point from “Hey, I’m another year older!” to “Hey, I survived another year!”

Our recent 40-year-old club inductee was treated by her husband to a Mexican cruise to celebrate with friends. We couldn’t make the boat ride, but we were able to attend the follow-up celebration back here, where we all went out bar-hopping. A common theme of 40th birthday parties is to pretend to be able to drink and dance like you’re still 25. This is called the denial phase.

(Although, no matter how deep you are into the denial phase, or how much you want to be young again, if you’re over 40, you’re still thinking, “Why is it so loud in here? I don’t understand why we need all these flashing strobe lights and that fog machine, and I would really appreciate it if we could turn on a few more overhead lights so I don’t kill myself on those steps.”)

The denial phase is fun, but invariably, the reality phase sets in the next day. Case in point: our bar-hopping adventure ended up at a country dance joint called the Crazy Horse, and they had a mechanical bull.

Do you know why there are no mechanical bulls in places like Starbucks, or McDonald’s, where they don’t sell alcohol?

I do.

Do you know why there are no professional rodeo bull riders over the age of 22?

I do.  

Do you know how sore you are the next day after attempting to ride a mechanical bull at one o’clock in the morning?

I have no idea.

You thought I rode it? Ha! Are you crazy? I’m 46. I know better by now!

The birthday girl woke up complaining that her arm was awfully sore, though. And her butt. And legs. And back… Happy birthday! Welcome to the Over-40 club. It was a fun party.

I’d say I can’t wait for your 41st birthday party next year, but let’s be serious… nobody celebrates turning 41.

See you soon,


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