In The Final Moments of My 51st Year

As I write this, I will be fifty-two years old in exactly one half-hour. That means that by the time I actually finish this I’ll have been fifty-two for about two hours, because these days I have trouble seeing the keyboard, and oftentimes forget what I’m saying right in the middle of … something. Plus, I’m emotionally shaken. It’s not easy going from fifty-one to fifty-two even though it’s unavoidable without actually dying, and let’s not get carried away.

Ah, fifty-one. I remember it like it was today. How naive I was then; how carefree; how prone to skipping when no one was looking, though people tended to because for me skipping and moaning go together like jumping jacks and one of my kneecaps flying off and hitting a small dog. I was like a boy then—a werewolf boy, because of the body hair. But I had that same wild abandon, that zest for life, that predilection for leaping on people from trees and chewing on the backs of their head. My heart was light, my cares few, my worries pretty much none because who worries about what they can’t remember? And, let’s face it, how many cares does a werewolf really have beyond making sure never to run out of hair mousse and flea collars? So my life was a breeze.

Fifty-one. The very sound of it is now anathema to me, as is having to take the time to make sure I’ve used that stupid word right. Because unlike my life when I was fifty-one, I must now take responsibility for who I am, who I want to be, who I used to be, who I don’t have to be anymore because the police have finally quit looking for that person, and who I might yet become if my wigs and shoe lifts ever show up from Cleveland. Plus, I think it’s high time I learned the difference between who and whom. Then again, I’m still too young to croak of boredom. Maybe next year.

And now, at 11:59 p.m. on March 20, 2010, I’m going to wait exactly one minute before hitting the “Publish” button, if I don’t miss and accidentally hit the “Delete” button, which would be probably be the last straw for me. For the entirety of that minute, I shall, in remembrance of the man I used to be, remain silent. If in that time I do not doze off, rest assured that I will publish this post, and thereby shall you learn that, yes, I made it to fifty-two.


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  • HK

    Hee. Moment of silence to commemorate vanishing youth? I like it. I will have to advise my husband to do the same, as he turns the big 4-0 on Tuesday. That is… if we can stay awake that long Monday night 😉

  • Phil

    Happy Birthday

  • Karen

    Happy Birthday John!

  • Linda Chimienti

    When you started to write your post you were in the final moments of your 52nd year. Now, you are beginning your 53rd. Seems to me that if you want to lie about your age you should pick one of those cute, perky little numbers like, say, 36 or 42. Or, go for 55 and get your discount at Ross on Tuesdays. But whatever… birthdays are all about "me, me, me" and presents and cake. And so I wish you a heapin' helpin' of all that. (And keep up the wonderful writing. Love you, John.)

  • Wait, so how old are you now?

  • Oh, my goodness. Thank you!!!

    (Linda: When I began to write the post, I was in the final half-hour of my 51st year. I'm now 52. No lying, promise. Perhaps I failed to be as clear as I certainly intended to be.)

  • Linda Chimienti

    When a child is in his first year of life, he can be 3 mos., 6 mos, or eleven mos. But the moment he turns one, he starts his second year of life. He's one year old, but he's in his second year. You are fifty-two but you're in your fifty-third year. You know, like this is the twenty-first century, and so on. I know how old you are and I was just kidding about your lying. Did you get a good cake?

  • Diana

    It's your birthday. Eat the cake! (Oh, and Happy Birthday!)

  • I KNEW you were joking; I also knew I wasn’t smart enough to figure out exactly how. But you’re right!

    I DO remember you as being smart. And so you are!!

    And you’ve been a great friend to me lately. Thank you for that.

    Mmmmmmm. Cake. Now I want some.


    I’m sorry, but I’m now forced to blame you for what’s about to happen to my cholesterol levels.

  • LOL. Almost as funny as the post.

  • Greta Sheppard

    Happy birthday, John. Take heart…you’re at a good age!

    They say the older you get the wiser you get.

    Incidentally, the day before your birthday, a robust 9 lb -1 oz . great-grandson arrived at the local hospital . . . they named him Jackson… his grandpa would have been proud!

  • Tim

    I hear 50 is the new 30. Who said that? Someone uncomfortable with their fifties, IMO.

    Why 50 is better than 30:

    • I’ve come to value a gentle woman over a hot girl.

    • It’s no longer all about me.

    • I’ve come to prefer authenticity over sizzle.

    • I’m way comfortable with myself.

    • I appreciate time spent with my parents.

    • I’ve come to value meaning over money.

    • I’m in touch with the fact that I’m not going to live forever.

    • I no longer care about what people think.

    • I think about how much I am blessed.

    • I’ve experienced some painful, challenging times and have come out stronger.

    • I’ve learned to trust myself.

    • I’ve taken some big risks and survived.

    • I’ve learned that being true to myself is more important than security.

    (Adapted list courtesy of blogger susanhanshaw,wordpress,com/2009/02/15/is-50-the-new-30/)

  • Tim

    BTW, Happy Birthday, John—and many happy returns