So I turned forty today. Apparently I’m supposed to be depressed.
Can’t manage that one; I’m about to leave the house for the best burger in the world at Ann’s Snack Bar, followed by an afternoon of debauchery at the Decatur Beer Festival. The schedule simply does not allow for being maudlin today, but even if it did, I’m having a hard time working up any major depression.
Think of the things I’d have missed if I were younger. I saw Star Wars in its first run in 1977. I watched Reagan’s inaugural when I was in the sixth grade and the Berlin Wall collapse when I was in college at Auburn. I saw every minute of Live Aid in 1985, the stereo cranked up and my jaw agape.
I went to Texas for engineering and Oxford for English literature, both on scholarship, and sold my first book–off the slush pile–by the time I was 25. I haven’t sold everything I ever submitted for publication, but I’ve had more sales than rejections. I’ve been quoted by the BBC and CNN and Howie Kurtz–and the latter was after I went out of my way to insult the guy. And pretty much by accident, I somehow managed to worm myself into the publishing history of Harry Potter. I’ve cracked up Jimmy Buffett and Bill Buckley. I’ve watched the sun set over the caldera in Santorini, and seen satellites pass over the midnight sky of west Texas.
I’ve met two-thirds of my favorite band, I’ve seen the Rolling Stones at Wembley Stadium and Dash Rip Rock at the War Eagle Supper Club. I learned to play (bad) rock guitar and had a ball doing it. I’ve read Milton in the Radcliffe Camera at Oxford and wandered through Franz Liszt’s house in Budapest. I strolled through Checkpoint Charlie and Wenceslas Square before either of them were tourist traps. I’ve been to at least eight Mardi Gras and a couple of Jazz Fests and God only knows how many long weekends in New Orleans.
I’ve seen Bo Jackson run over people and Nolan Ryan pound the tar out of Robin Ventura; I’ve watched Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, all in person. I’ve been to four Sugar Bowls and seen my team go undefeated twice. I’ve thrown up on two continents and in the backseat of an F-16D at Mach 1. I’ve been responsible for blowing up several dozen aircraft, and I even got paid for it.
I have a great family. My parents are still together after 46 years of marriage, and I have two pre-teen nephews who are more than happy to joyously beat the crap out of me every chance they get. I’m married to a beautiful woman who owns more guitars than I do. Why on earth would I think the next forty years might be any less awesome?
And by the time you read this, I will be not just happily full, but also happily loaded. What business do I have being depressed?