|By: Ron Brounes||
Today began just like any other day. I gave myself a real treat this morning and slept in (to about 6:00 a.m.); it was not a work day and I had no good reason to rise early. I didn’t even set the alarm. I turned off the heating pad that had been carefully placed under my back to prevent (limit) the routine morning aches and pains. I made the coffee extra strong this morning because I was still feeling the ill-effects of the one and a half beers I consumed late last night (around 8:00 p.m.). I remained a tad groggy as I had gotten up several times during the night to venture to the “little boy’s room.” (Initially I blamed the beers, but soon realized that I pretty much stumble in that direction several times a night anyway.) I brushed my teeth (tarter control and whitener), washed my face (Neutrogena), flossed (mint flavored), and decided not to shave. (I’ve been told that a day old partially gray beard is quite distinguished looking.) I took my daily assortment of vitamins and minerals, a Pepcid AC (just in case I ate something spicy during the day), and poured myself a heaping bowl of Mueslix and a glass of cranapple juice. I contemplated an omelet but had no egg beaters in the fridge and my doctor has placed me on a strict “no yolk” diet. (Plus, I have no idea how to make an omelet.)
With newspaper in hand, I immediately turned to the Metro section, not so much to read about the inner-workings of the City, but to take a quick glance through the obituaries to make sure I didn’t recognize any names. I reached for my newly prescribed (Walgreen’s brand) reading glasses because the print on the morning paper seemingly has been reduced to miniscule size (probably to allow for more advertising space). Seeing a few familiar sounding surnames, I called my folks to see if we knew any of them. (No chance of waking them; by 7:00 a.m. they had been up for hours.) After about 10 minutes, I was relieved that I had no condolence calls to make, but did learn of a few others who were recently diagnosed with debilitating diseases. I also secured a much desired dinner invitation to the cafeteria for the next night (about 5:00 p.m.). I’m thrilled that my parents have now become socially acceptable dining companions. After scanning the paper for additional disasters to stress over (and catch a few box scores), I showered and dressed for the day. Luckily I had watched the weather channel the night before so I knew the day’s high was only going to reach 70 degrees. Flannel shirt, slacks, dress socks, sleeveless undershirt, tennis shoes, and a windbreaker. (More and more, I’ve found that Dockers are much more comfortable than jeans these days.) Though no rain was in the forecast, I grabbed my umbrella just in case.
THE DAY GETS BETTER
After an uneventful day of clipping coupons, running errands, and listening to talk radio in my car, I stopped off at my sister’s house to visit with my teenage niece. After all these years, she idolizes and adores me and loves when I just drop by. She had a friend over that afternoon and they were blasting MTV in her room. Though I’m sure she was just giving me a hard time, she did not seem overly enthusiastic about my visit. I did not recognize (nor care much for) the music, and they became a bit annoyed when I told them about the Rock and Roll we listened to in “my” day and how this “rap” is just a bunch of nonsense. (I think I also mentioned how we used to walk to school uphill in the snow, but they weren’t really paying attention anyway.) As I left, her friend said “Bye, Mr. Brounes” though I’m sure she just couldn’t remember my first name. One of them must have told a funny joke, because I could hear hysterical laughter as I wandered down the hall.
That night I attended a “guy’s night out” dinner with a bunch of “old’ buddies from high school and college. Unfortunately with work, families (pets), and other commitments, we rarely have the opportunity to enjoy these types of evenings any more. I had long been looking forward to a big juicy steak, a few cocktails (even took my “Wal-propin” in advance), stimulating conversations, and some old-fashioned fraternity-like fun. And I was not disappointed. There were about 30 guys in attendance that night and let’s just say that restaurant may never be the same. Needless to say, we got loud and rowdy and a tad bit on the wild side. I only feel badly for the other diners who happened to be sitting nearby, though I understand no one complained (or even noticed us).
We reminisced about old times (though most of our memories are not what they used to be), but mainly discussed private schools for kids, 401(k)’s, Disney Cruises, and the upcoming mayoral campaign. We opted against tequila shots and cigars, but instead did some serious damage to several platters of onion rings and vegetable plates. The scotches turned to decaf coffee as the night moved well past 9:00 p.m. Doggy bags were gathered for those whose eyes were bigger than their stomachs. Undoubtedly, the evening would have lasted beyond midnight, but soccer practices and Indian Princesses loomed for the morning (and my dog had an appointment with the groomer). I’m sure the restaurant was pleased that the cops did not need to be called. In the end, we set out for our respective homes about 10:00 p.m. though I was slightly worried that an extra cup of java might impede some friends’ abilities to drive. (I refrained from calling cabs or insisting on designated drivers.) I even returned to my humble abode in time to catch Leno’s monologue and promptly fell asleep about half way through. And, thus, ended an outstanding (and highly eventful) day. Such is the life of a 40 year old.
THE AGING PROCESS
I’m not exactly sure how (or when) that happened. Just yesterday, I went to sleep a carefree, energetic, eligible, single 25 year old. And this morning I’m reading the obituaries and eating Mueslix. (But I’m still eligible.) I don’t feel 40; I don’t look 40 (at least, not to a bunch of other 40 year olds), but somehow I am 40. In reality, I thought this aging experience would be quite difficult and depressing. Once I passed 35, a friend pointed out that I was now closer in age to 50 than I was to 20. That thought bothered me for a good month as I had to come to grips with the fact that I had more in common with that older age group. And now five year later, I have even less in common with the 20-somethings. But that’s OK; in fact, it’s more than OK. Today I’m older and wiser and, believe it or not, even in better shape. Last week, I ran a half marathon (and even came in 1,265th place); when I was 20, I couldn’t run around the block (except to the convenience store to get some beer).
Each milestone birthday (that ends in a “5” or “0”) brings with it a fair share of anxiety in anticipation. For most of us, they represent a time to reflect on the past and review experiences and accomplishments. In reality, they should represent a time to look forward, contemplate the promise of tomorrow, and set new goals for the future. I’m never going to be 20 (or even 30) again. But 45, 50, and beyond, as well as a variety of new experiences and opportunities, loom on the horizon. New places to visit; new people to meet; new races to run; new activities with “old” friends. (New heating pads to buy; new medicines to try; new “music” to get annoyed with; new “old” stories to pass along to the next generation.) It’s all about the attitude and those who know me best realize that I always strive to set that strong example to others by maintaining a confident, positive, and enthusiastic attitude. (Whatever.) And how can I not? I’m 40 and I’m going to the cafeteria with my parents tomorrow night for dinner. Meet us there around 5:00 p.m.