40 at 40

I turn 40 this weekend.  Someone gave me the idea to sit down and come up with 40 things I’ve learned over the past 40 years.  So, with no grand fanfare, I present that list.

  1. Marry the person you want to sit on the sofa with while you’re reading.
  2. At 20, you get drunk and laugh.  At 30, you get drunk and you cry.  At 40, you have a drink and listen to Sinatra.
  3. I’d be lying if I said I still don’t hold the occasional grudge.
  4.  Anger isn’t nearly as impressive as patience.  Nor is it as effective.
  5. My parents were wrong a lot, but at least they were consistent.
  6. Everyone who teased me for what I wanted to be when I grew up now emails me and tells me they’re impressed I actually did it.
  7. Those people who teased you when you were 10 will be your biggest cheerleaders when you are 40.
  8. People think it is difficult to be an entertainer.  It’s more difficult to be married to one.
  9. All the times I begged and pleaded and cried and beat my fists never got me my way.  But it did make a lot of my girlfriends lose respect for me.

10. People told me that, as I got older, I’d become less liberal.  Hasn’t happened yet.  Stay tuned.

11. People care way too much about appearing smarter than they are.  You’ll enjoy life more if you let people see you as silly.  And you’ll wind up looking smarter after all.

12. My friends say I have bad taste in music, but I bet I have more fun singing in the shower than they do.

13. I don’t care what you think, “Call Me Maybe” is a great song.

14.  At 20, you long to be rich and famous.  At 30, you long to be famous and make good money.  At 40, you long for a decent living and selective anonymity.

15. Of all the drugs I ever tried, sugar is the most addictive.

16. It’s a good thing my brothers both went into computers and give me free advice when I need it.  Otherwise, I’d probably have written this in crayon.

17. I rarely think about ex-girlfriends, but I constantly miss every dog I ever had.

18. We really make too big a deal over language.

19. That said, I hope I don’t have those kids who say “Fuck this” in front of my in-laws.

20. I probably wouldn’t have liked the 20 year-old me.

21. I’ve been called “cocky”, “arrogant”, and full of myself…but never by anyone more successful than me.

22. That last point was arrogant as hell.

23. Over the years, my belief in religion has waned, but I still find myself talking to God.

24. Just the right song or TV commercial can make me cry.  That and a very old couple holding hands.

25. At 20, people ask you to name your heroes and you have a huge list of celebrities and historical figures. At 30, the list becomes shorter.  At 40, you just say “my parents”.

26. Don’t ever tell a teenager that a break-up doesn’t matter because he is just a kid.  Heartbreak feels ten times worse when you’re 15 than any other time in your life.

27. People rarely notice when you’re having a bad hair day.  You look the same as you did yesterday to almost everyone at the office.

28. Most knots aren’t important. Just learn to tie a four-in-hand and you’ll be fine.

29. If had become rich and famous like I wanted when I was 20, I’d probably be dead now.

30. Money doesn’t give you character.  Failure does.

31. People should probably remember Ebeneezer Scrooge was the bad guy in that story, and act less like him the other eleven months before December.

32. My father busted his ass  for decades, raised a family, paid mortgages and did yard work and fixed things and taught us math and owned businesses and spent every day being a husband and father and role model.  I talk about my penis to strangers.  Somehow, we’re both impressed with one another.

33. My wife sometimes looks like her father, and that scares the hell out of me.

34. People say we don’t appreciate teachers and firefighters enough.  That’s true, but we really don’t appreciate garbage collectors.

35. Call me a momma’s boy and I swear to God my mother will beat the shit out of you.

36. My wife is gorgeous when she dresses to the nines and is all dolled up.  But, to me, she’s always the most beautiful when she’s wearing flannel pajamas and playing Scrabble.

37. As I get older, I find myself being more honest with people and caring a lot less about whether or not people like me.

38. That’s a lie.

39. It’s an amazing feeling when you realize that you’ve become friends with your parents.

40. I don’t feel old.

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