So, here's a little more than you need to know, which I'm sharing here because it seemed a little too long for Twitter.
This was the first birthday that's ever hit me emotionally. My 18th birthday was no big deal. It was my first semester in college. My parents actually forgot to wish me a happy birthday until several days later, but I really didn't mind. I've never really cared for my own birthday. When I turned 21, again, it was no big deal because I lived in Louisiana and had been able to drink for years. I was finally allowed in casinos, but I never cared for them so...no big deal.
For the next eighteen years or so, I never had any idea how old I was. It never really mattered, so I never really cared. When people would ask me my age, I'd have to stop and do the math.
My dad was different, though. He made a big deal out of birthdays. Especially 40th birthdays. He was the king of surprise parties. An undertaker by trade, 40th birthdays brought out the devil in him. For one friend, he set up an entire cemetery in the front lawn of his friend's house: tent, chairs, casket, flowers, headstones, hearse...everything. The guy woke to the sound of neighbors standing in front of his home laughing. For another friend, my dad arranged for a group to sneak into the guy's house at 2am on his birthday. They surrounded his bed and lit candles. They began chanting, which turned into "Happy Birthday" as the guy woke up. Another guy woke up in his bed with a prostitute where his wife should have been, another 40th joke by my dad. (That guy got divorced a few years later and jokingly blamed my dad.)
So, when my dad turned 40, payback was necessary.
Dad got a deathcall at a home he'd never been to. It wasn't a friend or family, it was a distant friend of a friend (so he had no idea). He walked into the living room to see a body lying under a blanket on the sofa. The "family" was crying and completely straight-faced. When he went to move the body, though...UP JUMPED a leotard-clad singing-telegram "girl." Above Dad, on the living room balcony, were fifty of his friends, barely able to contain their laughter. There was a song and dance and strip-tease of course...All caught on 1980s video.
When we were kids, this seemed like the most amazing thing ever. That someone had no only tricked our dad, but in such a wild (and documented) way. It set the gold-standard for surprise parties that followed, and some were even more outlandish than that. But forty (40!) always seemed such a far-away age to me as a kid. And such an ADULT age, where you could have strippers and play wild jokes on each other.
I've thrown a few surprise parties in my time. Nothing like what they did for Dad. I can't imagine someone faking a death like that today, but...there ya go.
So, I don't know. This birthday has hit me like a ton of bricks. Forty has become such a mile-marker for me. Even looking at pictures of Dad from that party. I don't think that I'm as old as he is in those pictures. I certainly don't feel like a mature adult. In the past two weeks, I've realized a few painful things: I'm never going to be a cast member or guest host on Saturday Night Live. I'll probably always be out of shape until I eventually die. My novel will likely go unpublished and unwritten. And Edie Brickell will never have sex with me. Good news for her, but a sad realization for me.
I appreciate all the well wishes, here and on Twitter, and the few of you who've texted or called me, but this is just a weird birthday for me. My mortality has suddenly appeared before me, and I can't go on ignoring it. I'm running out of time to create a legacy. If I'm going to make a difference in this world, I need to figure out quickly how to do it.
Which is some heavy shit when all you really should be doing is eating cake.
Don't worry, CC... speaking as someone quickly approaching 50 (I'm 47), it only gets worse. You start looking more closely at what's in the toilet and wondering whether you should see someone about it. Maybe take a picture, or a sample.
My mom's 98, and she says she still feels the same as she always has. Recently, she said, Wow, 98, it must be close to the end... I told her about the 108 year old I saw on TV, and how someone once lived to 114. She frowned at me. It's impossible to think of her gone. I know I'd be lucky to have so many years, but, for her, it doesn't seem enough.
40? Bah. My mom would call you a spring chicken. : )
A very happy birthday to you... I'll do you the favor of NOT sending naked video.
Agree with gaspode. However, I did find 40 to be a wake-up call in that regard; you're used to thinking of your life as unlimited, and you start to realize that for most of us, if we're lucky, that's halfway. The bonus is, you can live a lot more intentionally on the other side. It gets easier to make decisions.
Well, now that it's not your birthday, I'm going to tell you that a lot of that over 40 crap is a load of bollocks. If you really wanted to do any of those things I'm fairly positive you could. The question is if you are going to put the time and effort into them, because those are your only real limitations, unless there are factors we don't know about like some stumpy tail/timebomb that will activate if you get within 50 feet of Lorne Michaels or lower your cholesterol.
The big test is making it through your 50s. It really seems like that determines much of what's left, whether that's a few painful years or another ridiculous chunk of life, but that's when one sees a lot of dropping dead and giving up. Not saying everyone gets much choice in the matter, but what choices you can make do matter. And apparently the drugs they give you for your colonoscopies are so great they killed Michael Jackson.
So write. It's the most accessible thing, obligates only you, the cheapest option, and way less creepy than stalking Edie Brickell. It's also the quickest way to reach those other goals except the getting fit, unless you do the treadmill desk thing or can talk to text it. Just gather up all your bits and bobs all over the 'net, emails, etc. and start editing, arranging and rewriting. If nothing else, it will bore/inspire you to write something to amuse yourself.
Blaming your age is a cop out, but a very popular cop out. People love blame.
Heh, I had my "40" moment when I turned 39, and I've noticed a lot of folks have That Moment around 40 plus or minus 3. So far all but one have said, "fuck this shit, I'm going for it". We've not regretted a bit of it.
My 40th birthday was a turning point for me. It was 3 months after I stopped drinking, and I was dealing with all the feelings and emotions that I'd drowned with booze all my life. 13 years on, I'm now the person I should have been at the age of 30. It's been a tough journey.
ColdChef, you are one of the most awesome people I know.
Also, I went to bed for my entire 40th birthday and refused to acknowledge any of the flowers, letters, phone calls -- I felt totally depressed about turning 40. I will tell you, no kidding, that was the nadir of birthdays and it has all been better since then. You are still quite young and you will accomplish a great deal more. Also, note how many fans you have collected at your tender age.