It Finally Happened: I Forgot How Old I Am

Today is my birthday. And I have no idea how old I am. Well, not no idea. I know I’m not twelve, since I no longer marvel at my own body hair. (Well, I do, actually—but when I do now it’s for radically different reasons.) But I’m honestly not sure if I’m 52 or 53.

It seemed like somewhere around 43 I sometimes started pausing before being able to say for sure how old I was. If you have ten jelly beans, one is a lot. If you have 40, one’s not that much.

Now I’m not even sure how many jelly beans I have. I just know I’m not supposed to eat so many jelly beans anymore, because when you get older you have to start worrying about your tricycles, or something. I dunno.

As I write this, it’s 3:30 a.m. So technically it’s been my birthday for three hours. And literally, too: I was born at midnight, exactly; the doctor called the time at 12:02 a.m., so I’d actually have a date I was born on: March 21. How weird is that? If you’re born right at midnight, it’s like … you weren’t really born. 11:59 p.m? No worries. 12:01 a.m.? Early riser!

Stroke of midnight, exactly? Vampire. No reflection when you look in the mirror. Lost forever in a wrinkle of time. Vacuumed into a black hole.

My mom said the doctor who delivered me went, “Well, we can’t put midnight. Let’s put twelve o’ one. No, wait. Let’s be creative. Twelve o’ two.” And that’s why it says 12:02 a.m. on my birth certificate. And that’s when, even at so young an age, I learned an important life lesson I’ve never yet forgotten: Doctors are liars.

The reason I’m up so late is that for the past three weeks my wife Catherine and I have been so furiously busy that neither of us have had any time to do just about any housework at all. And Cat’s hugely keen on celebrating birthdays, and she really wanted today to be clear of Actual Labor: laundry, dishes, Wal-Mart run, etc. So we did all that stuff today. Which became tonight. Which became this morning.

I think that at the stroke of midnight—at the very moment I turned whatever age I am now—I was scrubbing the toilet in my bathroom. Seriously. I think that’s what I was doing at midnight.

And people think God has no sense of humor.

I can only assume that such people aren’t, at all, paying attention.


Wanna get me something for my birthday? If you’ve watched and like The Smith Family Chronicles, then join/”Like” the show’s Facebook page. For reasons I explain on that page, that would be a great gift to me. Thanks!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • sdgalloway

    Happy birthday John. Get some rest, THEN celebrate.

  • Tammy Lubbers

    Happy Birthday to a sexy (almost) senior citizen! JK. Happy Birthday John. You make all of our lives so much brighter!

  • melissa

    Hopefully you celebrated all night long, and now you are sleeping soundly. Happy Birthday, and you are right, Drs are liars…or they are just clueless, haven’t decided yet.

  • Diana A.

    Happy Birthday!

  • Amanda

    Happy birthday, John! Maybe you’ll get that age thing ironed out… although I suspect it just doesn’t matter after a point.

  • Mindy

    Have a wonderful day, all about you, however old you are. And really, as one who is either one or two years younger than you, depending on how old you are, it stops mattering much at this point. “In my fifties” is enough. I don’t need any further details. Celebrate!! As my mom says, “be grateful for the honor of growing old – not everyone gets the chance.”

  • A’isha

    Happy Birthday, John, however old you are! :) I, too, forget how old I am. I was telling someone the other day that I’m 41. Later I realized that can’t possibly be right since I was born in 68. 2011-1968 must equal something but I’m at a loss. I’m in my forties, which is good enough, and since you’re in your fifties, I’m still younger than you are! hahaha But with our math skills next year I may be the same age as you are. :)

    Love you, man, and hope you have a great day celebrating you!

  • Lisbeth

    Happy birthday John! I saw the title of your post today and I thought to myself, “Hey, I can help him with that… we’re the same age!” I’ve always gotten a kick out of the little tag line you have at the top of the page, under, “Trying God’s patience since 1958.” :-) I do know what you mean about forgetting your age though. On top of that I find myself wanting to ADD a year to my age all the time. That was fine when I was 19, not so much at 53. Anyway, hope you have a wonderful day! You’re such a blessing to so many people.

  • slick

    “Trying God’s patience since 1958.”

    Yes it was that line that attracted me to the site. I have personally been trying Father’s patience since 1955 and can only be very thankful that our Father has so much patience and forgiveness for us. Of course, as a man, birthdays only measure my chronological age. As to my mental age, I’m hoping to bust out of my teens within the next few years, or within the next decade, at least.

    Happy birthday John and thanks for all the gifts you’ve given all of us with your writing. Perhaps the best thing I can say about your blog is that it is the ONLY blog I read.

  • JAy.

    Happy Birthday, John.

    And don’t worry that you can’t easily remember your age. I spent about a month and half over the end of last year and the beginning of this year where I was convinced I was 36. But, it turns out that I was a year off.

    So, really, don’t feel bad. I’m 17 years your junior (I think) and in no better mental capacity.

    Hey, you have the mind of a 35 year old! Congrats!

  • Tim

    Once in my early fifties I forgot my age. I asked my seven year-old daughter if she knew how old I was. She said, “I dunno…ninety?” Maybe good you don’t have kids. Sometimes it’s like adding insult to injury.

    Once you hit the half cent mark, who gives a crap, anyways? And whatever you do, age with dignity. Nothing more ridonkulous than a dude with a baked apple face that says 65+, and hair color that says “Emo Teenage Boy”.

  • Don Rappe

    I can still remember the first time I couldn’t remember my age. Fortunately I could find a document showing my date of birth. That, together with my math skills should get me by, as long as I can remember my name. Feliz cinquenta tres cumpleanyos!

  • Don Rappe

    ps: Everybody should scrub their toilet once a year. More, if you use it.

  • yeu@nn

    Happy birthday, John! Thanks for bringing tears (of laughter) to us all! God bless you…

  • John Shore

    Thanks, Yeuann!