I turned 49 this summer and I’m not happy about it.
Forty-nine. Seriously? Forty-nine? That’s grandparent age, not the parent-of-a-second-grader age. Sure, 49 doesn’t seem old to people who are older than I am, but 49 was the average life expectancy of the American male in 1902. That makes me sweat, just a little.
I turned 49 at 2:40 a.m. and, as every anniversary of my birth, I was asleep. I was wide awake 49 years ago on that day, and screaming bloody hell. Birth is unnecessarily cruel. It forces a baby from a warm, familiar place into someplace cold where the baby is wet, disoriented and covered in something sticky.
That happened to me a lot in college.
What am I supposed to do with 49? Sure, I’ve experienced a lot in my life, quite a bit of it really stupid, but I’ve also learned a few things, like the state capitals, the multiplication tables, and enough about electronics that I once repaired a television remote control with a staple and the spring from a biro.
Some of this knowledge I should probably share:
• Read. Read for entertainment, read for knowledge, read the backs of shampoo bottles while sitting on the toilet. It doesn’t matter, just read.
• Luck is more important than education, talent, or the ability to form a coherent sentence. However, luck runs out. Education, talent and proper grammar do not.
• No one thinks their musical taste is bad. Turn down your damn stereo anyway.
• The weak-kneed curse of political correctness was created by two types of people – those with no sense of humor, and those without the cajonés to tell them so.
• Eat something green every day. Jell-O doesn’t count.
• Also, walk every day, aside from trips to the refrigerator.
• Sometimes the classics suck.
• Get a job and take pride in it. I don’t care if you’re shoveling hog manure (which I did plenty), or massaging Swedish supermodels (which I did not), do it right.
• Money itself doesn’t make you happy, but it allows you the breathing room to find out what does. Probably. I’ll let you know if I find out.
• Mary Ann was the hot one.
• Collecting things only makes you dust.
• If a small child waves at you, always wave back. It will help shape their opinion of life.
• Don’t be afraid to laugh at fart jokes.
• Sadly enough, when you are at your most desperate, you can only truly count on yourself.
• The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards actually died in 1978 and was replaced by advanced Disney Animatronics.
• At some point in the day everyone’s an idiot.
• Don’t worry about things you can’t control.
• It’s much easier to be happy if your head’s not filled with silly stuff like details. Look at the Big Picture and cut it into portions you can handle. Details make the Big Picture look impossible.
• No matter what the question, “We’ve always done it that way” is the wrong answer.
• The only question that really matters is “why?”
• And, most importantly, always be nice to your mom.
Some people think I haven’t learned anything.
Jason Offutt writes this column for The Examiner.