Not Fearing the Big 3-5

Oh no, has the balance of time finally tipped against me? Have I reached some age demarcation line that says something about who I am, where I’m going and how once taut parts of my body will start to sag like an elephant’s ears? Am I going to start drinking mocha lattes, playing golf and shopping for affordable mid-size sedans, all because I’m turning 35?

This month, yes, I’m turning 35. I don’t have a problem with it really. I’ve never had a problem with age. Turning 30 didn’t mean much to me, other than I had made it a whole three decades without losing any fingers or toes via the dumb things I do.

Age, I will always believe, is 95 percent mental and 5 percent whether your knees still work. If you think young, and feel young, chances are you’ll stay young if only in your mind. That’s not a bad theory.

But something sounds a little off about 35. It’s just a strange number. Say it: Thirty-five.

It’s bland and boring, kind of a transition number. Not a number that’s exciting in any conceivable way. It doesn’t have the power or emphasis of the low numbers, and it doesn’t have the maturity or the weight of the high numbers. If you had to pick a number by random, no doubt you would never pick 35, and I bet a search of lottery winners finds none to ever have included this fella’. It’s the audible equivalent of cheap wallpaper, flat Coke, overcooked peas — the numeric equivalent of a savings bond. Solid, but no flash.

As an age, it’s kind of a dud. Not awe-inspiring at all. No one would ever hear you’re 35 and say anything worth repeating. Never will you hear, “Good age, dude, you can still get chicks,” or “Wow, did you ever meet Abraham Lincoln?” All you can ask someone who’s 35 is whether they’ve started buying clothes out of L.L. Bean catalogs or how they’re re-adjusting the mix of their 401k.

Forty has a certain exciting ring to it, as it’s a kind of a weathered and worn age, but in a good way. Think young George Clooney or Cary Grant in his heyday. When I turn 40, I’m going to start getting shot at by spies, I just know it.

Thirty was like a big step from the young and naive 20s to the great frontier known as adulthood. Thirty basically meant that I couldn’t stay out all night without consequences the next day, that I learned how to match clothes and that any dream I had of my parents rescuing me from a career and supporting me for the rest of their lives was dead. Not too bad, and it sounded cool.

But 35? Who cares.

When I tell people I’m turning 35, it elicits the same kind of reactions you get at a party when you mention that you’ve just switched brands of plastic wrap and couldn’t be happier. “Really? Hmm. You know, I’ve got to be going as this conversation feels like a rabid weevil burrowing into my brain.”

I’m getting strange reactions from people now when I mention what age I’m turning. They used to be impressed that I was either younger than I looked, or (shocker here to me, too) that I acted older than I was.

Now they just shrug and say things like, “Really, well, that’s about right,” or “Huh, well, you know, it’s not all bad.” What the heck does that mean?

But I’m not sweating it. A boring age isn’t going to get the best of me. Just because I’m trapped in a wasteland between the innocence of youth and the wisdom and experience of the upper years doesn’t mean I have to live like it. Who knows? Maybe my mom will even call, tell me to quit my job and we can all move back in with her. If she does, I’m going right back to mismatched socks.

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