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Hey Kids, Let’s All Get Depressed About Turning 40! [California Seething]

The weekend between the NFL Conference Championship games and the Superbowl is a bad one for football but a great one for soul searching. I love football and I fucking hate soul searching. As far as I’m concerned, soul searching is like cleaning out the produce drawer in the fridge; I know that something is creating a god-awful stench in there, but the last thing I want to do is reach into the murky depths and pull out the putrefying bag of brown liquid that used to be bean sprouts which were purchased for a salad that would never get made (I hate salad more than soul searching.) I’d much rather just hold my nose while I grab another beer and close the fridge door as fast as I can so the smell stays inside and I don’t have to wallow in stinky salad failure while I try and watch the game.

Sadly, the only game on this past weekend was the Pro-Bowl, the NFL’s annual Make-A-Wish Foundation trip to Hawaii for really good players on terminally bad teams. As football games go, it’s only slightly less exciting than Joe Paterno’s Memorial Service, but still more fun than watching the Jets this past year. DAMN YOU SANCHEZZZZZZ! STOP SUCKING!!!!!! PLEEAAAASE!!! YOU’RE KILLING ME!!!!!!! Anyhoodles, with the Pro-Bowl as my only option for sporting distraction, I decided the time had come to face my stinky demons. So I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to clean out the festering vegetable drawer in my soul.

Let’s be clear though, I know that I’m very lucky. I have a wife that I love, a job I enjoy, a dog who puts up with me and a house which I own. In many parts of the world, my problems would be considered “champagne problems” – or, more to the point, “guy who has food and whose family wasn’t butchered by rebels in a brutal civil war” problems. Still, just because I’m a couple of floors higher on Maslow’s Pyramid (Psych 101, bitchez!) (that’s all I remember) than the next poor schmuck in Darfur doesn’t mean that I don’t have real, legitimate problems.

Like, for instance, I’ve got a whole season’s worth of Fringe episodes on DVR and I’m deathly afraid that I’ll run into the only other person on the face of the earth who actually watches the show and he’ll totally ruin it for me by telling me whether Peter is still alive on some alternate dimension or if he’s disappeared completely or whether there’s a huge and completely fabulous catfight between Olivia and Faux-livia when Olivia finds out about Faux-livia’s baby, if they can even remember who the father of the baby is because the Watchers totally made Peter disappear from existence after he got into the machine and went back in time to heal the rift between the universes and if you have any clue whatsoever what the hell I’m talking about then please DO NOT FUCKING TALK TO ME ABOUT IT. LA LA LA LA LA LA. I CAN’T HEAR YOU, I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I swear I’m going to get caught up next weekend just as soon as I’m done watching Castle. Oh, Nathan Fillion, you roguishly handsome devil, you. Me-ow! Huh. That got a little weird there for a second didn’t it? Let’s just pretend that never happened and talk about manly stuff, instead. Go sports! Scotch and cigars! Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!

Of course, the biggest crisis I face this year is that I was born in 1972 so 2012 is the Year I Turn 40. Sure, I won’t be turning 40 until October, but I can’t help it if that’s the anxiety-stink that comes out of my brain when I open that door (that, and whether Nathan Fillion will find out I’ve been going through his garbage. How may Lean Cuisine meals can one man eat for God’s sake? I’m worried about him. I wish I could give him a call or go to his house or sing under his balcony wearing only a giant heart costume again like Ned Flanders. Damn you restraining order! Uhm, I mean, NASCAR Rocks!) For any other poor son of a bitch out there turning 40 this year, here are some great ways that you can drive yourself completely insane with paralyzing anxiety, crippling doubt and mortal dread for the whole year leading up to your big happy birthday. For those of you for whom turning 40 is still in the distant future, this is a great chance to feel extra super special smug about how young you still are and also, if you don’t mind, to please go and fuck yourselves:

Make a list of all the amazing things you want to do before you turn 40 – then don’t do any of them and obsess about what a loser you are while you sit on the couch watching CSI: Miami and your life slips away.

That Great American Novel that you’ve always dreamed about writing- don’t write it. Who are you kidding? With your boring, crappy life, you don’t have anything worthwhile to write about anyhow. Just keep going to work every day until you die.

Age is only a number- and 40 is a really high fucking number. How high? Well, here are some great math games you can play if you want to drive yourself crazy:

-When I was born in 1972, a 40 year old would have been born in 1932. 19-FUCKING-32! Are you kidding me? That’s when Elizabeth Taylor was born. That’s when Johnny Cash was born. That’s when PAT MORITA was born. When a baby looks at me, I’m fucking Mr. Miyagi to him. By which I mean old, not Asian. I mean, I might look Asian to a baby, too, but that’s only because babies are stupid.

-My niece was born in 2003. I was born in 1972. That means that the events of 9/11 to her are like the Kent State shooting, the completion of the World Trade Center and the invention of the floppy disk to me. In other words, shit that she has to look up on Wikipedia, like I just did. Because otherwise she’d have absolutely no idea what happened two years before she was born. I sure as hell didn’t. Even more alarming, it means that the crucial and iconic Monorail episode of the Simpsons is as ancient to her as the Kennedy assassination was to me — though, of course, the Monorail episode is far more historically significant. After all, there IS nothing on earth like a genuine, bonafide, electrified Monorail. What did I say? MONORAIL.

-I completed my first internship in professional theatre in the spring of 1991. My company currently “employs” several interns born in that year or later. This means two things: 1. I’m old. 2. Those lazy little entitled millennial punk ass brats better make my photocopies and move my boxes and get my coffee, because I’ve been paying my dues to the heartless bitch goddess that is the American Theatre for more than 20 fucking years now and those little shits haven’t paid squat. SO HOP TO IT INTERNS. CHOP CHOP. TIME IS MONEY (ok, so, time is credit, actually. You think we really pay those little fuckers? That’s just crazy-talk.)

You’re only as old as you feel and I feel like ass-cake most days. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s I did everything in my power to make myself feel as amazing as possible as much of the time and as a result, I felt like crap most of the time. I won’t go into details here, suffice it to say that Orange Jubilee Mad Dog and gravity bong hits of Hudson Valley Dirt Weed are not part of any conceivable complete breakfast, even if you combine them with Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch and Oriental Flavor Ramen. Still, whether I was high as a kite or puking off the balcony, I didn’t care — the important thing was not to feel normal. Normal was as boring as could be and was to be avoided in all costs.

Now, most days, I’d fucking kill for normal. Normal is the new Wasted. Just waking up without back soreness, headache, stuffed nose, irritable bowels, knee pain, dry mouth, itchy palms, low energy, inexplicable rage, anxious stomach or abundant mucous is better than any drug I can imagine (except maybe Ecstasy – but, come on, that’s Ecstasy. They don’t call it Ecstasy cause it makes you feel sad. Sigh. Good Times. I could really use some of that spinal fluid back now.)

And, sure, I could cut out red meat, stop drinking caffeine and alcohol and get off my ass and exercise for a change, but then I would have to admit that I’m getting older and I need to take better care of myself, and that would run contrary to my primary coping mechanism for turning 40, which is:

Deny, Deny, Deny!

OK, Dude. Listen. There is no way in hell that I’m turning 40 this year. I wear jeans every day. I like loud music. I have no table manners. I never buy clothes. I only get haircuts when I look like the Unibomber. I still say “DUDE” for the love of god! There’s no way that I’m, like, a real 40 year old. Real 40 year olds live in two story houses with two car garages and have trees in the yard that they know all the names of. They mow their lawns, wax their cars, tuck in their shirts, coach Little League, read Consumer Reports, stay tuned for 60 Minutes right after football (except on the West Coast), laugh at Tim Allen, read biographies of rich people, have a favorite golfer, think about fiber, order off the healthy conscious menu at TGI Friday’s, go to TGI Friday’s, like TGI Friday’s, wear ties even when nobody’s dead, love aluminum siding, own multiple screwdrivers, fight with their neighbors about where the property line is and who trims the bougainvillea that grows on the white picket fence between houses, want power tools for Christmas, call it “the Twitter”, and think it’s important for athletes to be role models because children are our future which is why they care deeply about bicycle safety.

Does that fucking sound like me?

I think bike helmets are for pussies, I’d rather get gout than power tools for Christmas (and it’s statistically more likely. Sweeeeeet, delicious chopped liver sandwiches), and I am more likely to wax my ass cheeks than to ever wax a car (are cars even hairy? Cause my ass cheeks sure are! See — would a real 40 year old blogger write that?? It would totally screw up his post about the evils of dry-rot.) I mean, sure, I was born 40 years ago — but there’s no way in hell I’m one of those 40 year olds. I’m really just a big 22-year-old who has male pattern baldness and gets colonoscopies. And who hates all the other 22-year-olds for being a bunch of worthless brats. BACK TO WORK, INTERN! MY FEET AIN’T GONNA RUB THEMSELVES. Kids today.

And once you’re done denying the inevitable truth, there really is only one coping strategy left for turning 40, which is:

Suck it up

Yeah, sure, 40 is old. But come on. It’s not that old. I mean, I look at it this way, no matter how old I am, my sister is always going to be four years older — and that’s fucking ancient. I mean, sure 1972 was a long time ago, but 1968, that’s the year of the moon landing, the Chicago convention, the Tet offensive — all sorts of crap that I care nothing about because it happened before I was born and I’m much too young and hip to know anything about it. Only an OLD person (like my sister) would care about that stuff, and no matter how old I get, I can take comfort in knowing I’ll never be as old as her.

Plus, look at all the people that made their greatest contributions to society after they turned 40 — Raymond Chandler, Grandma Moses, the Old Man on Pawn Stars, lots of people. I mean, sure almost all successful people had already made a major impact before they turned 40 and were already on the downward slope to ignominious failure and bloated death on the toilet by this advanced age — but, a statistically insignificant percentage of people did become wildly successful only after turning 40, and as long as the glass is .001% full, it’s not 100% empty! So go on, write that novel, do all the crazy crap on your list. The worst thing that’ll happen is that nobody will care or you’ll die in a terrible base-jumping accident and no one will be able to identify your horribly mangled corpse without checking dental records. How’s that for some fucking optimism? They ought to put a naked picture of me hanging on to a branch on a poster with big 70s bubble writing that says “Hang in there, Baby!”  Maybe Nathan Fillion could hang it in his boudoir! Huh. Weird again. I love football!

And, speaking of football, thank God the Superbowl is this week, so I can slam the mental fridge door shut on my squirming neurosis before they escape and take over my brain. Plus, I think there were some radishes buried under the bean sprouts I bought for my aspirational salad that have been there so long they’ve become sentient and are now writing a Parks and Rec style one camera sitcom about life in the fridge called Bottom Drawer. Fucking LA produce. So derivative. Anyhow, I’m super excited for the big game — particularly looking forward to a battle of wits between the two most joyless coaches in the history of professional sports, Tom “I’m not happy to see you, that’s just my prostate” Coughlin and Bill “I wear no sleeves on the outside because I have no arms to hug myself with on the inside. Oh daddy, why didn’t you hug me?” Belichick.  And, I’m particularly excited to see Putty Face Manning humiliate Chin Butt Brady for the second time in five years. Fuck the Patriots!

Of course, what I’m really most looking forward to is watching Peyton Manning lead the Jets to an undefeated season and Superbowl glory next year. I just hope the stadium is finished in Make Believe Land in time for the big game — it’s going to be right on the corner of Gumdrop Road and The Celtics Still Have a Shot at the Title This Year Lane.

By the next Superbowl, though, I’ll be well on my way to turning 41, so maybe I won’t have as much need for distraction and denial. Maybe I’ll even start tucking in my shirt and learn to appreciate power tools. Now that’s what I call make-believe!