Facing Forty

Please card me…. Please card me…. Please card me….
The sign clearly says, ‘All customers appearing to be under the age of 40 will be asked to show ID.’
Sure, I can’t pass for under 21. But come on, do I look over 40?
She looks up and reaches towards the screen, I try not to smile. That would expose the multitude of wrinkles surrounding my eyes, lending further doubt as to my sub-forty status. Without even pausing, she taps the spot on the screen that I can only imagine says, ‘Old enough not to question’ and relays the total.
Letting loose a feigned smile, I try not to show that I just died a little on the inside. My fortieth birthday is only three months away, so agreeably I am close, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wanted her to ask. My wife, who is anywhere from a few years – to a decade younger than me depending on her mood, revels in being asked for her ID. I think she might keep a diary.
It never really crossed my mind before, that is until this year. Now that milestone is staring me in the face and the little things are starting to get to me. It’s not that I want people to think I am in my twenties, it is more so that I fear the slippery slope that lies before me. With most of the plot already developed the second half of a book is always a quicker read.
Lately I also find myself thinking of the decades that have passed me by. In my teens the world was full of opportunity, the freedom, the experiences, all lay before me. Then in my twenties we began to build a family, life was still full of possibilities and the kids kept me young. The thirties brought a certain sense of security, relationships grew stronger and I began to figure out who I was. The impending decade is uncharted, I am not sure what now lies ahead, but some dreams will stay in the past.
Like becoming a professional athlete. OK, maybe I never really had a shot, but at least while I was watching my favorite teams I was able to say, ‘That guy is my age.’ Now more and more it is, ‘That guy is young enough to be my kid.’
When I was younger I knew that at some point I was going to be a big deal. Now I can only think of a couple of high profile jobs that are left: acting and politics. Unfortunately I have the face for radio and far to many skeletons in my closet to survive a run in the muck that has become our political cycle.
To top it off, just when I could use their dependence, the kids seem to becoming quite the opposite. When they were younger I fancied myself the wizard of the house, I could come up with an answer for just about any question they had and generally they believed it. Now they are teenagers and I think they have started peeking behind the curtain, even going as far as to question me.
These thoughts race through my head as I get out of bed and trudge down the steps to the basement to let the dogs out. They greet me with the anticipation of a five year olds on Christmas morning. Maggie, our lab,hops around by the door wagging her tail. She knows that I am the gate keeper to the outside world and much needed relief. Come to think of it they greet me the same when I get home from work.
Maybe the cashier pegs me over 40. Maybe the chances of me becoming famous have passed. Maybe the kids aren’t as dependent as they used to be. But the dogs need me and barring one of them developing an opposing thumb, they will for many years to come, so I guess there is reason to push on.


2 thoughts on “Facing Forty

  1. There’s nothing more depressing than being older than all the bands on the radio. Or, for me, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and realizing I’m now older than Harrison Ford was when he starred in it.


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