Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Birthday Eve"

Deep breath.  Don’t expect great wisdom.  (I like to keep the bar low, just in case.)

Tomorrow is Wednesday.  It is also my seventieth birthday.

No applause, please.  I never understood – and am uncomfortable with the idea – of receiving applause just for still being alive.  I mean, what do they do when you die?  Boo you?

“Loser!  The guy couldn’t hold on.”

What is interesting to me is that on the same day when I attain this monumental milestone, the rest of the world will be walking around without the slightest idea that it’s happening.  And they are not pretending – they really don’t know. 

Tomorrow is a Pomerantzian celebration.  But for others, it’s just “Half way to the weekend.”

I am aging here, people!  Attention must be paid!

No, it actually doesn’t.  Though some commemorative skywriting would not entirely inappropriate.

“The whole last name?  I’ll run out of ‘Writing Smoke’!”

Forget it. 

Turning seventy is a personal transition.  And not that remarkable.  All you have to do is get past sixty-nine. 

Still, as I feel obligated to mention every birthday,

This is the oldest I have ever been.

And it’s beginning to feel uncomfortable.

Forgive me, but as an inveterate pessimist, one does not reach their seventieth birthday without considerable trepidation.


What exactly does that mean?

I know what it doesn’t mean.  It is not like you walk into another room –

“Hello, I’m seventy now.  Am I in the right place?”

“Seventy” is not something startling abrupt.  Nor is it a kit they send you in the mail, with instructions on how you do it, and a money-back guarantee.

“If you are not totally satisfied, just return the unused portion and we will send you a different year.”

The process is demonstrably subtler.  Other than its calendarial designation, there is no identifiable “Seventy ‘Starting Line’”, where a gun goes off and you immediately stoop and shuffle.

Truth be told, I have always shuffled (partly, I believe, to protect myself from the shock when the real shuffling actually begins.)  And with the help of a pilates trainer and “The Horse Doctor” – who works three days on people and three days a week on horses – I am actually stooping less.

It is no “Celestial Insight” – with an accompanying “Ooh-Ah Chorus” – to assert that everyone experiences seventy in their own manner.  The significant question is,

What will my ‘Seventy’ feel like?

And, if I make it, beyond?

That’s a staggering question.  If I weren’t sitting down, I’d have actually staggered.

I cannot imagine being untroubled by such concerns.  When exactly does stuff go?  How quickly?  And in what order?  Shakespeare said, “Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” 

Sans teeth?  Come on!  I floss twice a day!  Even my hygienist is impressed!

The Bible only gives us seventy years.  According to those guys, I’m finished!  (There is some mention of “eighty”, but I believe that’s for people who actually read the Bible.  It would feel like cheating if I started now.)

I am in alien territory here.   Given the unspecified parameters, what exactly am I supposed to do?  And more importantly – and here come the staggering again – what specifically should I be ready to expect?

The same thing, only slower?  And then less of it?  And then none of it?

Ooh, sorry about that.  I shall now retreat to cheerier terrain.

I enjoy writing this blog.  But I recall once, when I told her I wrote a blog entitled Just Thinking, a woman not of my acquaintance opining, “Why would anyone care what you have to say?”  That question is currently compounded by “Why would anyone care what you – who are now seventy – have to say?” 

I do not know the answer to that.  Perhaps you can help me out.  Consider it a solicited birthday present – some feedback as to my relevance.

Anticipating this posting, I scribbled down some preparatory notes.  I speculated if, based on my anticipated upcoming experiences, I might through my subsequent writings become the blogosphere’s preeminent “Chronicler of Decline”, and if that would inevitably drive readers away from my blog or, ironically, make it suddenly popular – among a circumscribed demographic at least – I almost wrote circumcised demographic – as a consequence of its now reliable focus.

I also considered ending with…

“Seventy is unquestionably downhill.  But I can go downhill without thinking about it.  So I may as well think about something else.”

As I think about it, however, taking stock of things the day before “The Big Day”, to be honest, I do not…you know, feel all that different than I did yesterday. 

So why should I feel that much more different tomorrow?

“Seventy” is a significant milestone.  But in many ways, except for the greatly appreciated attention of my loved ones,

Tomorrow’s going to feel a whole lot like a Wednesday. 

But with presents.

Thank you for dropping by.

And I’ll see you when my age ends with a zero.


Leo Metz said...

Best wishes. As I'm right behind you, calendarily, I look forward to your observations. Cheers!

Mike T. said...

Happy birthday, Earl! Your posts may not always be "relevant," but they're usually enjoyable. And if anyone can make getting old funny, it's you. Please keep blogging.

Brian Fies said...

Happy Birthday! You're relevant to me because you write things nobody else could write, then I read them and you make me think things nobody else could make me think. That's a lot better than most of the ways people spend their time.