Yesterday was my birthday. And I have to admit that I was not really looking forward to it. This was weird, because I always look forward to my birthdays. A whole day to celebrate the wonder and majesty that is me? What’s not to love, right? Except now, instead of counting down to exciting things, the years are counting down to, well, death I suppose. So you will forgive my lack of enthusiasm.
You see, when you are a kid, every year means something exciting. Each age is a new grade, new developments, more privileges and responsibilities, and also lots of cake and new toys. And you get bonuses along the way. Do you remember being 9, and realizing that your age was going to get a whole new digit? How awesome was that?! For most of us, that will not happen again.
Of course the big one was driving. I know it’s different in different states, but in Vermont, where I grew up, age 15 meant a learner’s permit. It meant that we would be getting behind the wheel of a vehicle of some sort, and then operating it. Even if our lame parents or driving teachers had to be in the car with us, it was a huge milestone. We drove, practiced, and looked forward to 16.
Sixteen! Now we we able to drive for real. An honest to goodness driver’s license. But even though these blessings had been bestowed up on us, we knew that that the best was yet to come. Could anybody wait to turn 18? Of course not.
Man. Eighteen. A full blown adult (Ha! Or so we thought…). We could smoke (don’t smoke; it’s the worst thing ever). We could buy lottery tickets. We could join the military. We could do pretty much whatever we wanted. On my eighteenth birthday, I went down to the grocery store and bought a scratcher, just because I could. And I lost. And it was awesome. But even as a legal adult, there were still goodies to come.
Turning 21 was not a huge deal to me, because I don’t drink. I didn’t then, and I don’t now. By the time my twenty-first birthday rolled around, I already knew that alcohol was not for me. But I can recognize and appreciate what a big milestone it is for everyone else. And you might think it stops there, but in fact it does not. There is one more thing you can look forward to.
The day you turn 25, you can rent a car. At a reasonable price. As someone who often did not have a car, or who often had recently destroyed his car, renting a car was important to me. And many places would not rent a car to you if you were younger than 25. And the ones that would, charged approximately a 900% bonus fee to the under-25 set that was interested in their services.
Now, I won’t say that there are no more ages to look forward to after 25, but what you get is not nearly as cool. For instance, when you turn 33, that is your “Jesus Year.” You spend the whole year trying not to be crucified and if you survive, you breathe a sigh of relief and move on to 34. But somehow this is not as cool and exciting as driving a car for the first time. And when you hit 35, like some of us have recently, you are able to run for president. Unfortunately, unless you are in possession of millions upon millions of dollars, this does not apply to you. And honestly, being president sounds like it sucks, and is certainly not as great as being able to go into any bar you want.
So here I am, having already passed any birthday milestone that I would be interested in celebrating, and where does that leave me? Starting to become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? Or are there still things to look forward to? I mean, retirement sounds pretty cool, but aside from being over 30 years away, I think you need to have a job to really appreciate that.
Oh wait, I know! My AARP discount card! Can’t you start getting discounts at, like, 55 or something? That’s only twenty years from now! Ok, that does sound pretty cool. Getting to order off the senior menu and everything is 10% off (or more!). Yeah, that’s worth looking forward to. I’m feeling better now. Let the countdown begin! Only nineteen sad birthdays to go.