A couple of weeks ago Kristen and I returned home after our second full day at the Shaky Knees music festival. I was dusty, sweaty and my feet hurt but I was invigorated at the same time. It was exciting to see live music again and the crowd had such a good vibe that I felt young and energized. Until, well, until I saw an envelope on the counter that may as well have been a 2-by-4 to the side of my head. In front of my kids and my mother-in-law, I let out a loud and pointed “Fudge”, only I didn’t really say fudge. An invitation to join AARP can do that to a fellow.
So yeah, in between the time I write this and the time you read it, I will turn 50 years old and I’m not entirely sure how to feel about that. In the rug business I’d be classified as semi-antique and my flaws could be referred to lovingly as ‘character’ or ‘patina’. I’d be a curiosity simply for having lasted this long. Unsurprisingly, these waning weeks of my forties have brought upon some reflection and introspection but as the big date approaches it’s starting to feel like a dramatic prologue to a non-event. And maybe that’s a good thing.
It seems there are two common approaches to turning 50. Should I channel Sally O’Malley and kick a leg over my head and proudly proclaim “I’m 50! 50 years old!!”? Or do I slink off to a corner and resign myself to filling out the AARP form muttering something pathetic about discounts? The new thing is to take a birthday picture when you think you look pretty cute and post it to social media claiming “This is 50!” But now that I’m here it feels a little more like This is 50?
I’m don’t know what I expected, maturity perhaps? Like maybe I’d be talking about mutual funds a little more and eating Lucky Charms straight from the box a little less, but here we are. Do people ever really feel mature themselves or is that just a judgment others make about you? It’s not entirely without surprises though. I mean, no one ever warned me about lower leg baldness. A lifetime of sock-wearing and the hair on that part of your leg just sort of gives up, huh? Are there manscaping tips for patchy male-pattern shin baldness?
I used to think the other side of 50 must be no fun at all. But as I look at my friends and family members who have already crossed that bridge it doesn’t seem that bad. For my 50th I’ll be in the mountains with a bunch of these folks, so I plan to examine them closely. Are they only pretending to like hiking or is this keen appreciation of nature genuine? When they talk about how fun Pickle Ball is, do they secretly wish they could still play actual tennis?
To my kids, me turning 50 is comical if anything at all. It reminds me of the time when Margo was about 6 and the two of us were on a walk and having a little esoteric chat. I asked if she would take care of me when I got old and started to lose my mind. In typical fashion she deadpanned, “No! I’ll find your mind and stick it back in your ear!” It’s added incentive to keep sharp because tough love may be the only love I can count on down the road.
Hopefully, I’m a good stretch away from losing my mind but I think Margo’s take on the situation might still be applicable here. Stewing on the milestone doesn’t serve much of a purpose so time to find my mind, stick it back in my ear and carry on. I suppose this is 50, and I suppose that’s fine. Oh, and mutual funds – amiright?