Happy almost birthday. 50 really is a kind of death; really, during my 40s I was seen differently by people than I am now, because I could always say I was “forty-(something),” I was just a mature man–at the top of my game. “forty-(somethings)” have wives and lives and careers and cars and goals and game and it’s all still happening for you. That all just stops and dies at 50; not from you, but from everyone else on the planet. Saying “fifty-(anything)” usually brings a surprised look from people, as they tell me that I “look good for my age.” No one asks me about my future anymore.
Your first birthday gift is when the doctor calls and tells you that you are due for tests that are all genuinely terrifying because these are the big, bad diseases that it’s too late to take preventative measures for–you’re already 50! Find something now and you’re likely to hear that you have “three to six” to get your affairs in order. “I’m so sorry.”
The next birthday gift is being forced to accept “age-related” problems in just about every part of your life and body. Blurry vision? Hearing or memory loss? How about the sudden failure of your previously reliable back or knees? “Age-related.” It’s all “age-related,” and that relation is never a promising, positive, or productive thing, but it is forever. Get used to every medical professional telling you that your condition is “age-related,” which is just polite medical speak for “it’s all downhill from here, buddy.”
Another noteworthy gift is actually a little good: you can act old. You know, in a conversation, you can pause when no one else has the time to pause and then say something slowly, as if you’ve just channeled all the known Gods of the universe and are awaiting the response they provide only to those old and wise enough for it. And you can tell stories; you can now officially drone on and on about all those things that you used to do and how they used to be done and who would do them with you and why. And you can thank an “age-related” reduction in T-levels for the absence of your explosive temper; everything is going to be funny and cute and sweet and you’ll say things like, “lovely,” without feeling embarrassed.
Another single friend of mine said it best. It was during a phone conversation that he ended with, “just remember, we’re the old guys now,” that was the catalyst for me. Since then, I’ve never felt the same about anything. I have had to learn how to see myself as the world does.