“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “You Say It’s Your Birthday” Chapter 38
By Bruce Williams
I had another birthday this week. After 50 there doesn’t really seem to be too many significant ones anymore. 60, 75, 80, I guess. This one was 54–one year away from being eligible for one of those “adult living” facilities I see advertised on billboards. You know, the ones with the tanned, fit older couple enjoying their golden years amidst a breathtaking backdrop, when in reality we all know there’d be a peach-colored lobby full of artificial plants, smelling like Pine-Sol and gravy, complete with two impossibly slow elevators where a hard-of-hearing older gentleman awaits nearby to shout questions to everybody about the weather.
For my birthday itself I’ve got a furnace guy coming to clean the blower and another repairman later to change the belt on the dryer. I’d do the dryer myself, but I get the sneaking suspicion that it might involve some loose ball bearings as well as some extensive swearing, so I’m going to farm that one out. Oh, and I need to get another screw for my glasses—Michelle, Olivia and I spent some time last night searching the bathroom floor for the one that popped out to no avail. If my 18-year old self had read this last birthday paragraph he would’ve been sorely disappointed. Angry, probably even…back when I thought all people over 40 were kind of gross and boring—turns out I was mostly right.
After I read the paper and had coffee, I knew I should probably get on the treadmill and run for a ½ hour or so, but instead I procrastinate—putting on my headphones and vacuuming the near acre of plush carpeting upstairs, marveling at how the nap changes after a good Dysoning. I listen to Black Sabbath, grooving with the vacuum cleaner to “Fairies Wear Boots” when I start to realize how politically incorrect that song now is—that is until I sit down on the bed and look up the lyrics (more procrastination) and realize that they’re talking about real dwarves and actual fairies, so it’s okay after all.
I still don’t want to get on the treadmill, and I’m becoming increasingly more comfortable with the extra ten pounds I’m packing around. To stall further, I get the hair clippers out and buzz them around my dome, triangulating a hand mirror so I can see the back of my head. I take off my t-shirt and shake the clipping to the ground for the hand vac, but then I notice my shoulders are a little fuzzy, so I mow them with the clippers, too. I grab the hand mirror again and go after the tuft between my shoulder blades. I don’t have the moxie to be a true chest shaver, so I leave that well enough alone. My manscaping concludes at the waistband of my shorts as I clear the Road to Paradise a bit with a roguish swoosh and a devilish chuckle.
After I shower, I get a call from the guy we sold our last house to…he just got a $2,000 water bill so he was wondering where the sprinkler box was located. I told him there wasn’t one in the house (it’s probably up the street as it’s run through the neighborhood front yards and operated remotely), offered him my sympathies and directed him to either the HOA or Bonney Lake Utilities, hanging up afterward thinking that the best birthday present I could’ve ever received was not having to deal with that gigantic bullshit nightmare.
As I age I’m beginning to notice some changes. I can’t tell my navy from my black dress socks anymore—except under a bright light. Often, I’ll just call Olivia in to help me tell them apart. I seem to be cold all the time now, too (I know—masculine, huh?) which is a newer development. I’m starting to not recognize or have heard of some of the guests and musical performers on Saturday Night Live (“Who’s that, exactly…?”) And it seems like I’m always looking for a restroom. Most of the clothes I buy now are dark solids—blue, black or grey—so I don’t have to think about it too much. Gone are they days of three-piece plaid suits, of obnoxiously bright shirts and aggressive ties…I’ve lost interest in the flash and sizzle, preferring the sobriety of fresh white linens and dark, simple wools. After the dryer guy leaves, we’re taking Olivia’s phone to the Apple Store to get fixed—it’s stuck on the Apple screen and she had a near meltdown about it last night, so that bit of nonsense needs handling. There’ll be a burger and some carrot cake in there somewhere, a few gifts and lots of hugs and kisses. At this point in life, what else could you want?