Personally, I don’t think turning 40 will be so bad.
It’s being 39 that’s a killer.
The worst thing about being 39 is that everybody thinks you’re a liar.
I wrote that in a column 25 years ago, on March 10, 1991. Hard to believe. Now I’m at another awkward age — 64 going on 65 in a few days. That’s the truth.
That yellowed clipping even has a picture of me with black hair, one chin. I still have the striped tie I was wearing.
Back in the day, if you said you were 39, some wisenheimer invariably would break in to a booming Rochester voice: “Thirty-nine? Oh, sure you are, Mr. Benny. Whatever you say boss. Does you want me to warm up the Maxwell for you, Mr. Benny?”
Ol’ Jack ruined it for the rest of us 39ers. He remained stuck on 39 most of his life and got away with it. Now everybody thinks I’m trying to fudge on my age, too — one short of the big 65.
From where I sit, it will be a relief to turn 40.
At 40, people will no longer accuse me of being prematurely gray. I’ll just be gray. Which sounds much better to me than prematurely gray.
What was I thinking? I’d kill for prematurely gray today. Salt-and-pepper? Now there’s not even enough pepper to sneeze at.
After all, 40 is when life is supposed to begin again, everybody told me.
Now they tell me 65 is the new 40. And, life begins at 65.
Do I really want to start life all over again? Think about it. When I started this life, I couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk, couldn’t even hold my head up. I didn’t have any teeth, my head was twice as big as the rest of my body (some say it still is), and a lot of the time, my diaper was ... well ... ocupado.
The wiseguys with all the Depends jokes tell me I’m heading back in that direction on all counts.
Anyway, I figure I’ll start this new life at 65 with a big head start. The very day I’m “reborn,” I’ll be able to walk (with a few aches and pains early in the morning), talk (I know all the old jokes already) and I can hold my head up just fine (unless I’m sitting in a recliner trying to stay awake for the 10 o’clock news).
Of course, I won’t have some of the advantages I had the first time around. Like being cute as a button. Getting away with burping out loud in public. And getting all the attention I crave simply by crying like a banshee.
Maybe being 65 won’t be so bad.