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Forty-One

July 27th, 2005

Today is my 41st birthday. Forty-one isn’t any sort of milestone, it’s just another year gone by. I haven’t looked forward to it at all; I didn’t take the day off. My coworkers took me to lunch today, and Vic and I will go to Red Lobster tonight, but that’s the extent of the festivities. I didn’t even ask for any fun gifts; for the first time in my life, I found myself saying “I really need clothes.” (I truly do.)

It’s funny how my attitude about birthdays has changed as I’ve become older. As a kid, I thought about them for months in advance, looking forward to parties and presents. Then came the milestones: old enough to drive, old enough to vote, old enough to drink. Still later, they were opportunities for friends to fuss over me–and perhaps still get a few presents or a little extra nookie. But at 41, there really doesn’t seem to be much of a point.

Oh, people still wish me a happy birthday, and they always ask if I’m planning anything fun. But people of my age have jobs, families and responsibilities, with little time for the kind of parties for which children wait with great longing. No one is planning anything special for me, and it seems egocentric and perhaps a bit pathetic to throw my own bash.

I’ve also found that the majority of birthday cards for older people have one universal theme: you’re old, and you’re going to die soon, ha, ha. Honestly, it’s not that funny. I don’t need to be reminded that I’ve got maybe twenty-five good years left in me.

I celebrated today by spending an hour-and-a-half this morning at the Champaign DMV trying to get my expiring driver’s license renewed, only to give up in frustration shortly before my number would’ve come up because I had to get to a meeting. It was maddening watching the staff dawdle and procrastinate, calling numbers only when it seemed they could find nothing else to do. Finally, I lost it and started chewing out one of them, which solved absolutely nothing and probably would’ve got me arrested if I hadn’t beat a hasty retreat. This afternoon, feeling that I’d probably burned my bridges at the local office, wound up driving to Tuscola (about a half-hour away), where the staff were friendly and efficient and I got in and out in about 20 minutes. Ultimately, things turned out okay and I even like my new ID photo, but I’m still bugged about the wasted time and my lack of self-control.

Maybe 42 will be better. Or maybe I’ll just be older.

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