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Ready or not, getting teased before a big birthday sets one up for facing a mid-life crisis
Later this year I will be turning 40. I had been so looking forward to it. I had even been working on a few distinguished strands of silvery grey in my side burns to match this milestone. Each time I bumped into a billboard featuring George Clooney, turning 40 seemed extremely promising. Not that it bears any resemblance in my case, but there is hope.
In the past few months, though, people around me have burst my bubble about turning 40, by robbing me of an entire year of my life. My current age, my 39th year. In their heads I have already turned the big 4-0. Now I am more intent on avenging my 39th year and living it up. I refuse to be 40 when I am technically still 39. And it’s not just a number, it’s a fact!
My dear wife is the biggest culprit here. In the past few months, each time I have behaved like a typical man or husband, she has not merely told me off, but has made it abundantly clear that I must ‘start acting my age’. The age that she keeps referring to is 40. Well, that’s not true. I am not yet 40, I often protest, I am 39! She just retorts, “See, that is exactly what I am saying. You are not bothered about the more serious things I say.” So I have to apologise for ‘not acting my age’, even if it’s the wrong age…
How can I forget my friends, whom I adore? In all their affection, they so politely make it their priority to label me 40 years old in our conversations. I shared with one the other day that I have some sort of niggle in my left knee. “These things happen when you are 40, dude!” was his compassionate response. Another close friend labelled me 40 for a random eyesight lapse while I was trying to read a distant street sign. And any memory fades on my part are all of a sudden attributed to me being ‘40’ as well.
Then there was a gentleman reviewing my passport a few weeks ago. In his attempt to afford me a compliment, he too messed it up. His kind observation was that I didn’t look 40. Dear Sir, that is because I am not 40 just yet, I am 39! I felt like clarifying, but I left it at a vague smile back.
My gym instructor had to pitch in to this saga too. “We have a program starting for members who are 40 and above in a few weeks. It is tailored to the lifestyles and capabilities for that age group,” he responded when I requested a review of my current training program. “I won’t be eligible for that for another seven months,” I clarified, once again, with a vague, open-ended smile.
Last, but not least, you know you are doomed when your own mother lets you down. “When did you grow up from this toddler into a 40-year-old man?” she recently exclaimed. I thought of a comeback to this one, but couldn’t possibly conjure one. So I held myself together and walked on, that vague smile coming in handy, yet again.
So, friends, romans, countrymen, for the next seven months to come, I am 39 and not 40. And if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to live the rest of this time as a happy and healthy 39-year-old. At the end of which, I will happily embrace the George Clooney phase of my life.