…Okay, I’m actually 43.
But this age is kind of unremarkable, on the surface. It doesn’t quite have the zing, the panache, of 21, or 30, or even 40. It’s a lot more bland.
When I was 37, I could quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
ARTHUR: Old woman!
ARTHUR: Man, sorry. What knight live in that castle over there?
DENNIS: I’m thirty-seven.
DENNIS: I’m thirty-seven–I’m not old!
ARTHUR: Well, I can’t just call you ‘Man’.
DENNIS: Well, you could say ‘Dennis’.
ARTHUR: Well, I didn’t know you were called ‘Dennis’.
DENNIS: Well, you didn’t bother to find out, did you?
Of course, I had to change it a bit. “Old woman” fit, in my case. Or, at least, “woman”. “Dennis”, however, didn’t fit at all. But I digress.
The point is, when I was 37, for one whole year I could proudly proclaim, in a very bad approximation of an English accent, “I’m 37! I’m not old!”
Likewise, when I was 42, I had the opportunity, for 365 days, to state that I was the answer to the ultimate question, the answer to life, the universe, and everything…at least according to Deep Thought, the computer in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series.
“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
“Forty-two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”
“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”
I’ve never known what the question is, either, but it sure was fun to quote. (Nice man, Mr. Adams. Signed a towel of mine about 100 years ago. Sometimes, late at night, or when I’m in the middle of doing something that’s not the least bit maudlin, but is sort of boring, like laundry, my mind wanders and it hits me that he’s no longer on this plane of existence. And that realization makes me sad. I wish we could have kept him with us for a bit longer.)
But again, I digress. (Might as well get used to it. This blog is gonna ramble from time to time.)
So that brings me to this year, with my unremarkable age of 43. No British comedy to quote, no milestone to stand back and admire. A “meh” kind of year.
And then, on New Year’s Day, we trekked to mom’s house for the annual “Oh I Know Your Birthday Is On The 2nd But The Family Is Here For New Year’s Dinner So We Might As Well Have Your Cake” event (mom is nothing if not practical), and for some reason she felt that I should have number candles on the cake. You know–the fat, white, blocky candles with a raised green outline that proclaims your many years for all to see? The ones that kids love and adults loathe?
Well, she had a 4 candle and she had a 7 candle, but no 3 candle. So in my mom’s unique form of logic, that meant she could plop those candles on my cake and proclaim me 47, accelerating my age by four years, just because those happened to be the candles she had handy.
No, I can’t follow her logic either. I suspect she just wanted big candles for my son to blow out for me. And those numbers were “close enough” to my actual age. Or something. I suppose I should be grateful she didn’t insist that I be 74.
So they were unceremoniously plopped on the cake, and we all stared at them. My son said, “You can’t have these on your cake. You’re not 47.”
My son is 5. He is the smartest person in the family.
I agreed, so we stared at the candles a little more, and then it dawned on me.
“Well,” I said, attempting to teach him math while simultaneously trying desperately to find a reason to remove the offending candles, “I am 43. And 4 plus 3 equals 7. So we can just use the 7 candle.”
He loved that idea. I loved it even more. We chucked the 4 candle and positioned the 7 candle in a place of honor in the middle of the cake. I lit it, Junior blew it out, and it was whisked away, most likely to make a grand reappearance next year, when I will say again, “I’m not 47 yet!” But then we will have no 8 candle to stand in for 4 plus 4. However, that’s 360 days away, so I won’t worry about it just yet.
For now I’m grateful that I have something fun to say for the rest of the year.