Today is my 50th birthday. I’ve so far been able to deflect any inherent anxiety about the milestone by inflicting it on people who knew me when I was a kid.
I saw an old neighbor of ours last week. Hadn’t seen him in 25 years. He knew me from when I’d ride my Big Wheel up and down his sidewalk. I told him I was turning 50.
“My God,” he said. “I can’t believe it. Little Chris Rodell is 50!”
And he’s driving a car!
I’m not surprised that yesterday I was 49 and today I’m 50. It’s not like that bus-sized meteor that blasted the hell out of Chelyabinsk, Russia.
This even I saw coming.
So far, the most dismaying aspect to turning 50 is understanding now that if I drop dead any day hereafter, sassy 20-somethings will say, “Well, he was a good dude and I’m going to miss him, but he lived a good long life and ya can’t live forever. Oh, well, that’s enough mourning. Back to Angry Birds!”
Geez, I feel like I’m just getting started.
I’m forever optimistic about the future, that is if I survive today.
I’m alarmed that many of the people who want to celebrate my life are eager to do things likely to end it. I’m talking about an unhealthy multitude of celebratory birthday shots destined for this evening.
It’s always that way on your birthday, especially the ones that end with a big zero. People think the thing to do is give you shot after shot after shot to let you know they love you so much you’re bound to spend the next four days wishing you’d never been born.
It’s been that way with me at least since I turned 10.
My 50th has already started off on a discordant note. Our darling 6-year-old caught some nasty bug and spent the night spewing what we in college used to call the “technicolor yawn.”
I don’t mean Lucy. I’m referring to myself here and not the sick child. See, Val and I were going to spend the afternoon enjoying a bottle of wine and some carefree togetherness without the kids.
A sick child at home alters those plans -- and you know what that means.
No birthday Strip Scrabble.
The Facebook phenomenon changes birthdays. You used to be able to duck through the day with little tumult.
I’ve already been graced with the good wishes from dozens of friends from around the world. And I’m so pleased.
Thank you. I wish I could transport myself to each and everyone one of you to express my gratitude in person with a warm hug -- and I’ll bet Zuckerberg and his minions are right now figuring out a way to let me do just that.
So don’t be so startled you spill the coffee on me if later today I come crawling up out of your computer screen.
That so many wonderful friends have always been a big part of my preposterous little life is a great blessing in a life’s that’s been strewn with them, and it buoys me whenever I think I’m lacking.
If you wish to express your good wishes in a more concrete way, I’ll ask you to mention “Use All The Crayons!” to the store manager next time you’re in a Barnes & Noble.
Tell them they should consider stocking it because you’ve enjoyed it and it’s doing gangbusters in their other stores. Their computers will confirm this.
I am still being blown away by the reaction to the book and am grateful to each of you who’ve done so much on its behalf.
I will continue to look forward to the future, even on this day that calls for some recollection of profound conclusions.
Alas, all I’m really sure of after five decades on earth is this:
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was wrong.
That which does not kill us doesn’t make us stronger.
It just leaves us with one whopper of a hangover.
Look out 60! Here I come!
Related . . .
Causes Chris Rodell Supports
Democratic National Committee, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Sierra Club, Smile Train, Salvation Army