It's my birthday this weekend.
And as much as I tried to avoid it, I am getting to be of that certain age.
You know, that age when everything hurts at some point? The age when the kids on the street, who you used to be, have become a threat and an annoyance. The age when you scour the coupons for 15 cents off a can of peas? I am there.
The first time I saw my Dad complain about the cost of a dozen eggs, I saw he had reached that certain age, and he was dead just a few years later. So being at that certain age, does make me a little scared.
I'm 46, older than my Grandfather ever was, and past the halfway mark to where both my parents ended their race. My only saving grace, or so I tell myself, is exercising daily, and I quit smoking more than five years ago. According to what they told my Mom when she tried to quit, after five years free of nicotine, my lungs should be back to normal for a 46-year-old man who grew up in a town lined with asbestos.
I guess it is all these factors that make me a little less understanding and a bit more quick to anger these days because after all, I am a man of a certain age.
The thing is, at this certain age, I am also looking at my friends. The ones I stayed up too late with in my formative years and drank too much with in my post adolescent years. The ones I shared heart aches with, and victories with. The ones I laughed with when we thought about our days when we would be of that certain age.
We are there now.
But while we shared the experience of youth as friends, as adults, we are now of that certain age and no longer need friends. We are too busy with our lives for friends and too important to the world to say we need friends. We are men after all, we need nothing but our keen wits, our strong backs and our above average intellect.
We are mountains, standing alone in the winds of the world, and we will stand there long after the winds cease blowing. But the winds don't blow like they used to anymore, and I feel that soon, we all might start to crumble.
The first to fall will probably spawn shock and sorrow, with words like, "He was only 48. He was so young."
The next will be more circumspect, "You know, he was 50, he should have gotten that colonoscopy."
If we reach our 60s they'll say with pride, "He had a good life".
Mind you, through all these decades, the men won't talk to each other and won't rely on each other for anything more than an occasional beer. They are men, after all, and they need no one.
But on my birthday this year, I see my humanity and my human frailty. I see that life is short and often lonely. I see that I am getting older and my patience is growing shorter. I see I am becoming antisocial and tired. I guess so are my friends.
One friend in particular will be missed this year. He and I have grown too old to tolerate the abuse we once heaped on each other, and we closed the door on a forty plus year friendship earlier this year.
I am sure I am to blame as much as he is for the end, but I do believe by saying goodbye to that friendship, I grew in some way. I am a grown up now, and I have learned to expect more of those around me, and I expected more of him. He failed to live up to my expectations, and so we are done.
The thing is, both of us will crumble eventually. And time will seem too short when it does. The time we waisted being angry. The time we wasted being right. The time we wasted being mountains.
That’s how it is for men of a certain age, though, and that's how it will be. For my part, I'd like to say I'm sorry, but maybe I'm just too old and set in my ways to say it.
Dan and Me. 40 years went too fast