There are lots of cool ages. When you turn 18 you are legally an adult – able to get pissed and drive at will (even if not at the same time). When you turn 21 it usually signals finishing your higher education and departing off into the big world. When you turn 30, it’s a celebration of surviving all the stupid shit you did in your teens and twenties.
When you turn 40 however – it just means you are f*cking old
Well loyal readers, today I turn 40. And I can confirm it is not a cool age to turn. No teenager thinks turning the big Four Oh will be fun and they are right. I don’t feel cool, I don’t feel special, I don’t feel like I am on the cusp on a great adventure. What I do feel is a tiredness in my limbs, a soreness in my back and a general irritation with the world.
(Writers note: I wrote the above a few days beforehand so I would have this piece ready. Now it’s the actual day I’ve been spoiled rotten by my family and received a slew of well wishes from people so it is actually making my day pretty damn cool. However it would ruin the theme of the piece so lets just pretend I’m still not feeling special eh?)
So what the hell happened? How did this happen to me? I mean, I remember being young and looking at people like me, thinking why and how could they give up?! And young Trev is still inside, looking out through these tired old eyes, feeling like a young man trapped in an old farts body. I used to party all night and play video games all day. I used to sleep with stranger’s, drink and smoke near anything passed my way, get into fights with buddies and then wake up the next day feeling a million bucks to do it all over again. Now I go to bed sober at a decent hour and I still wake up tired. What. Happened. To. Me?
In fact, let’s have a look at the progression of my life in some key categories.
Teens: Any alcohol our fake ID’s could get us
Twenties: Scotch & Cokes at the pub
Thirties: Beers with mates
…and now: Cup’o’Soup before bed
Teens: Whatever was on MTV
Twenties: Whatever was on Rage
Thirties: Whatever was on Triple J
…and now: ‘Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle’
Teens: Getting pissed at 18th’s
Twenties: Getting munted at 21st’s
Thirties: Dinner parties with friends
…and now: Driving my kids to other children’s birthdays
Teens: Below minimum wage at a fruit shop
Twenties: Minimum wage Security Guard
Thirties: Highly paid Specialist Teacher
…and now: I clean my wife’s house
Teens: Interstate trips to theme parks
Twenties: Backpacked around Europe
Thirties: Honeymoon to Vanuatu
…and now: To the shops and back
Teens: Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo
Twenties: Halo on the Xbox
Thirties: Fall of Cybertron on the PS3
…and now: Hoping for a nap while my son plays the PS4
Teens: I made my girlfriends laugh
Twenties: I made the ladies swoon
Thirties: I made my wife smile
…and now: I make my daughters bed
It first really sunk in I was getting older about 3 years ago. Back in my twenties, when I had a gleam in my eye, an ever-present bulge in my trousers and a six-pack under my shirt, I used to get my hair elaborately done at the hairdressers at least every six weeks. I used to really enjoy it too; I always had two or three of the young women on staff hanging about while I made them laugh and unashamedly flirted. Used to walk out looking great, feeling great and more often than not having charmed my way into getting a nice big discount.
Three years ago I was getting my tips done blond when the hairdresser said ‘Oh it’s so great when men your age get this done – my step-father gets his done and it really helps hide the grey’.
The look of horror on my face said it all as I had been unaware that I had any grey hairs! Also, this girl was comparing me to her father figure?! Yep – if I had dusted off my old flirt-circuits she would have no doubt classified me as an old creep and locked the door as I left – no discounts for old fart Trev.
So are there any upsides to getting this old? The main three I can think of are that you are less of a dickhead, less inclined to tolerate bullshit and are more self-reliant. These days I actually think before I open my mouth to say whatever random thought passes through this oddly-wired brain of mine, and getting naked in public is truly a thing of the past. I won’t cop shit or tolerate bullshit – I quit a career where I was about to finally break the 6 figure mark because I had my boss quite obviously fuck me over and my self-respect would not accept it. In my 20’s I might not have cared, but at 39 I was not going to let some fat old bat throw me under the bus and tell me her mistakes were my fault – f*ck that! As for self-reliance, it may have taken me decades longer than some males but now I only call a tradie as a last resort. I always try to build it or fix it myself and if I can’t then I watch how the tradie does it so I can do it myself from that point on.
So today for the first time I look in the mirror and a forty year old man looks back at me. It’s been a helluva ride. I’ve traveled the world and learned how to order a beer in a dozen languages. I’ve had a Uni Radio Show, appeared on Television, Sworn on the Big Screen and done Stand-Up Comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’ve been painfully thin then fat then buff then… kinda flowing. I’ve lived in Melbourne and London and even returned to the Mallee for a while. I’ve lost my parents but had children of my own. I’ve become the sum of my experiences…. which somehow has turned me into a Blog Writing, Hobby Farming, Househusband and Father who spends his days looking after his kids and propagating plants. Doesn’t sound much but really when you think about it, having a loving wife, beautiful son & daughter, a big house in the hills and only working for others when I feel like it – I may have not become the megastar I thought I would but I could have done a lot worse that’s for sure.
So what pearls of wisdom have I learned that can prepare others for turning the big Four Oh? Well… none. Nada, Zip, Zippo. It’s going to affect each one of you differently. I can’t say it feels any different to being 39 and to be honest in my head I’m still 25. All I can say is that yes, the concept of turning forty sucks…
…but it’s better than the alternative 😉
Are you about to turn forty or already have? Would love to commiserate with you in the comments section below!