“Becoming a Sir or Madam”

I’ve heard that you are only as old as you feel.

If that’s the case, does age fluctuate based on your mood?

Sometimes, you feel youthful and there is that bounce in your step that is like you’ve had six Red Bulls or a vat of coffee. These are the days you find yourself dancing to bad songs in the morning on VH1 while you get your kid ready for school, and finding no greater pleasure than getting a really annoying Matchbox 20 song stuck in your wife’s head. Then again, that might just be me.

On the other hand, there are days when it feels like you would need a forklift to get yourself out of bed, and when your feet do inevitably hit the floor, the sounds that your body makes are as if you are trying to sneak up the stairs in your parents house when you got home past curfew: The creaks and cracks could almost awaken the dead.

Those mornings are becoming much more prevalent, and the mornings of waking up ready to face the world with the exuberance of youth are happening about as often as a leap year or a dental visit.

I’m about to turn 30 next week, and though I realize that it’s not like I’m ready to cash in my 401K (if I actually had one) and hit the golf course 40 hours a week, the milestone birthday has gotten me thinking about my “wasted twenties” and what I have inevitably done to my body and how I will be paying for it in small increments for the rest of whatever. The creaks and cracks in your body are like the hidden finance charges on your high interest credit cards.

As you get older, you find yourself looking back almost as often as you are looking ahead. You start sentences with “remember the days when…” and then you call your financial planner to see if you can get a “lead” on an up and coming stock.

You start to gauge what you have as a checklist to define where you’ve come and where you are headed. People say that we work too much and take less time to actually do things like go on trips or take up a hobby that we’ve been meaning to, and that is most certainly true, because I can’t remember the last time I actually took a vacation, and my wife is starting to think I’ll never sign us up for those ballroom dancing classes (which has nothing to do with working too much, it has more to do with my white-boy dance moves).

With that being said, remember when you didn’t have anything, and how that didn’t seem to bother you? You could drive the beater car, be a poor college kid, and work in a mind-numbing cubicle for a few years and it was okay because that was about par for the course of where you were supposed to be. Once you hit 30 though, having the beater car, no loot, and a dead end job is about as hip as being the really wasted old guy in the bar with a penchant for bad-breath secrets, and even worse pick-up lines.

Perhaps the innocence that often lies in youth is dipped in a good bit of ignorance. Which I guess would explain why kids are so carefree and parents look like they are on the verge of shooting up a post office half the time.

So as 30 looms closer, I realize that though I’m not old, I’m certainly not young, and there are certain things that I shouldn’t do anymore, at least in the eyes of those judging societal-types. I mention this because the other day, someone called me “sir”, and it freaked me right out. How can I get called “sir” while I was wearing ripped jeans, an old “Beatles” T-shirt, and a pair of Pumas? It was like putting a spin on the moments when you feel flattered that you get carded for liquor or even more so, if you get carded for cigarettes. In this situation however, I felt like I could never be a “sir” as I wasn’t carrying myself either in appearance or actions as a “sir.”

A “sir” to me, amongst other things, is: someone that can fix their own appliances, carries around a lot of change in their pockets for their grandkids, someone who prefers single malt scotch to draft beer, carries a handkerchief and a pocket watch, who knows who Errol Flynn was, and has a favorite John Wayne movie.

So it got me thinking, what else do I need to change?

There are several books out there that are those quirky types of gag gifts that sit on your coffee table to hide the “Sports Illustrated” or “Rolling Stone” that are called things like “65 Things Not To Do After 30” and “Things You Should Learn Before 30.”

I’ve thumbed through some of them and they have some good points that tend to make me realize why no one really took me seriously in my twenties, (not to say that people take me that seriously now.)

Some of my favorites things either know how to do, or just stop doing by 30 included:

— Stop drinking Jaegermeister

— Learn how to change your own oil

— Never wear a baseball hat backwards

— Own an iron and use it

— Change a diaper

— Don’t wear pants with more than four pockets

— Stop listening to punk music or death metal

— Learn to hold your liquor

— Never paint your body or face before attending a sporting event

— Learn to cook something that isn’t out of a box.

At any rate, I realize that just like any birthday, 30 is just another year and perhaps I will be celebrating this birthday for the next six years, depending on how I feel, if in fact, the cliché is true about being only as old as you feel.

Despite what the judgmental society-types and a few bad coffee table books tell me to do post-30, I guess I would like to someday be a “sir”, but not quite yet. I’d like to get the clarity and the wisdom, without joining the VFW. The question is, can it be done?

I guess post 30, exercise is more a defense against a fat explosion rather than an offensive towards hotness, and family is who you spend your free time with, rather than whom you try to get away from at every free moment.

And finally, feeling young is more mental than just simply acting “mental” when you are young.

But then again, what does a young “wippa-snappa” like me know anyway?

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