Photo via Zazzle
Some birthdays you celebrate, some birthdays you dread, as the “Guy Code” gang explained in this week’s episode. The celebratory ones come before 27, ’cause that’s when you realize: Holy s**t, I’m in my late twenties. For the next few years, all you can think about is the big three-oh (as in, “three-oh-God-why?“), which arrived for me today.
At the stroke of midnight I drank a glass of scotch to numb the fear. Probably the same thing I’d do if an asteroid were about to hit the earth, which I hoped it would so I’d never have to turn 30.
See, 30 isn’t just a birthday; it’s the passing of an era. You’re a full adult now in society’s eyes. Sure, you’ve been able to vote and drink (legally) for a decade or so, but your incorrigible screw-ups now have consequences. Your peers might take pity on you for a wild night of public intoxication/nudity/arson, but a jury of them certainly won’t.
For previous generations of Americans, 18 represented this age of responsibility–especially if you were drafted into the military–but the twenties have become a protracted adolescence for us. Maybe it’s because people live longer now, so there’s not such a rush to grow up. Or maybe it’s because, thanks to the recession, fewer can get a job or mortgage or afford a wedding, the typical markers of maturity. Either way, when you hit 30, the party’s over.
“Happy birthday to you, happy birthd–” my wife began to sing earlier.
“No no no no no no no no no no no no,” I sobbed, actually sobbed.
I knew I was breaking Guy Code, but I couldn’t stop myself. Nobody wants to hear a man complain about his age. (Nobody wants to hear a woman complain about her age either, but at least it’s socially acceptable and can get you laid with a quick “you still look beautiful.”) The whining only makes you seem older than you are. Hit the gym, apply the hair dye–if you must–and stop bitching.
Even though I knew all that, for years I’ve complained about my upcoming milestone on a pathological basis to anyone who’d listen. Because your thirties are when nature commences biologically destroying you; when your social life begins and ends with your couch; when you annoy your friends with tiresome Facebook photos of your damn babies and spend the majority of your time cleaning human feces, sometimes off your precious belongings and your face.
I reminded myself to be careful what I wished for every time I said “I don’t want to turn 30,” but I’ve made it here–the Johnnie Walker hasn’t killed me yet–so how does it feel?
Well, I’m not lovin’ it, but I’m beginning to accept it, and here’s why: If you talk to guys in their fifties and sixties and seventies, they universally pinpoint their thirties as the best decade of life. You still (temporarily) have your looks and strength, but you also have a decent income and a modicum of respect since you’re no longer at the bottom of the s**tpile. So that’s pretty nice.
Plus, now that I think about it, I was horrified to turn 20 because I’d so defined myself as a teenager, just as I’ve so defined myself as a 20-something in recent years. And I’d never want to be a teenager again, struggling with virginity and zits and virginity and SAT prep and virginity. So maybe I can live with 30. Maybe this will be OK after all. Maybe I can finally relax and be happy…
Jesus Christ, I don’t want to turn 40.
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