So today I turn 49. I’m at the ass-end of my forties. Or, as my wife would remind me, I’m in my 50th year. “That’s what they’d put in your obituary,” she likes to remind me.
And as I stare down those last 365 days before I hit fifty, I don’t have any great insights to deliver. I’m not any smarter today.
All I can say is, really, with very little exception, I still very much feel like I did when I was in my late teens. I feel healthy, I’ve got the same stupid scatalogical sense of humour (yes, fart and shit jokes are just as funny to me 30 years later).
If anything, I guess I may have learned a few lessons over the years. Maybe more in the last year. I’ve learned more about myself, I’ve learned more about the influences my mother and father and sister and brother all had on me. I’ve learned much more where I got my values from. And I’ve learned to value things in my life a little more.
I’ve learned a lot about myself this last year. Most of it I didn’t want to learn, much of it I didn’t like when all was said and done. But it’s me, warts and all.
And I’m lucky enough to have those around me that help and support me.
I’ve also got deeply into the writer’s community this year. That’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.
I sent my daughter off to school this year. That was much harder than I ever thought it would be, but also very rewarding to watch my teenager blossom into a young woman.
I’ve watched my son sprout about a foot taller. He hasn’t beaten me for height just yet…but it’s mere millimeters away.
I’ve gone through a lot of changes in the last year. But fundamentally, I’m still that same awkward, shy, insecure person I was thirty years ago…but with enough experience to get me over the initial reservations. So instead of shying away from anything, I go for it and embrace it, no matter how much it hurts initially or how much I figure I’m going to fail.
And the cool thing? I can see my son following in my footsteps. How do I know this? Because he’ll try new things.
Like…baking birthday cakes.
So today, I had to actually go into the office for work (normally I’m the work-at-home dude). When I came home, we had to run right back out again, but I thought I smelled something good cooking.
I did. The Boy told me…well, let’s see if we can recreate the conversation, shall we?
“So, I need to tell you something,” says the Boy.
“Okay,” I say. When he starts like this, God knows where it’s going to end up.
“I uh…” he pauses. I look over and he’s got a look that can only be described as rueful. “I tried making you a birthday cake.”
“Aw, cool,” I say. “Thanks, buddy.”
“Yeah well,” he says, and knowing the Boy, there’s a “but” statement coming. “So I did that…but…”
“…yeah?” I say.
“Okay, well, I put a lot of work into it. It took, like, an hour and a half, and I really tried.”
“Okay,” I say.
“And I even did two different things. A chocolate cake mix and a brownie mix.”
“No,” he says, the enthusiasm quickening his speech. “I made ’em both together.”
“Like, mixed together together?” I say, a touch frightened.
“No!” he says, indignant. He gives me an I’m-not-that-stupid look. “Side by side in the same pan.”
I briefly consider the different baking times for cake versus brownie, but the fright comes back and I push it away. Keeping my voice neutral, I just respond with a noncommittal “okay.”
“Yeah, well, so, I took them out of the oven and I thought I let them cool long enough…”
And this is where he fades off, obviously unwilling to reveal the rest.
“Okay, they cooled off,” I prompt.
“So they cooled off, so I stuck the birthday candles in them, but I guess it hadn’t cooled off enough, so…like…”
His face grows pained. “So the candles…kinda…melted into the cake.”
I fight the smile. “Oh dude, you should have left the cake for a while.”
“I know, I know, but I thought they were cool enough.”
At this point, I can’t keep it in and start laughing. Then he does too.
Then finally we both settle down. “You’re a boner,” I say.
“Shut up,” he says. “It’s the thought that counts,” he finishes. Then, after an appropriate pause, adds, “Bitch.”
Which gets me laughing all over again.
In the end, after dinner, he unveiled the cake/brownie mutation and the candles are indeed a sad and sorry sight to behold. And they seem to be in a weird pattern. He says helpfully, “Before they melted, they spelled out ‘F-A-T’…as in ‘you’re fat’.”
I thank him, blow out the single forlorn burning candle, and we eat the cake. I pick out the chewy parts.
I love my family.
Happy birthday to me.