Keep Calm and Stay Home


So you’re in your 40s? 28 Things I Learned in my 40s. Why I became So Much Happier in my 30s. If My 40 Year Old Self Could Tell My 20 Year Old Self a Few Things at a Bar, the first would be to stop drinking. 

We’ve all seen the advice, the philosophical, logical and sensible points that people in the 40s have pocketfuls of. Close your eyes (uh, but not if you’re driving) and just call to mind some of the uber-enlightened, sagacious advice and commentary. Own your flaws, they make you who you are. Laugh lines are worth the laughs. So laugh! In your 40s you have let go of the toxic people and you much happier.

OK, are there some truth nuggets in there? Absolutely. But it still comes off as theoretical and frou-frou. I feel as though I am listening to the wispy mantra of a holy guy in a Nepalese cave.

There are so many benefits and occasional downsides to being in your 40s that you just can’t list them all. Mostly this is because you have forgotten them moments after you are gifted the epiphany of them. Irony.

But let’s get real. If you’re in your 40s you know that there are more concrete ways of defining that age decade than the little insights and theoretical developments. There are real, day to day applications that you notice. Here are a few everyday realities about life in my 40s.

I plan hangovers, not nights out. A friend who is a great pool player once told me. “If you want to be a good pool player, don’t think about the shot you’re making, think about the one after that.” And man does that make sense in the world of being 40. I can still bring down a number of drinks with little problem. But it’s the reality of the next day that rules whether or not I will go out.

I weigh the headache, the arsenal of medicine that my body will require to simply go through the motions without ending up in a hospital, and the lack of productivity up against what I need to do that next day and the evening as well. Depending on the findings of those measurements, that’s how I decide to go out. Can I be a mess tomorrow morning? Do I want to be? This is why younger people think we fortysomethings are boring. We can still drink. But we don’t know if you are worth the payoff. Also we don’t mind what you think. PS: It should be mentioned that I still suck at pool. Bigtime.

I make plans and then actively wish that they get cancelled. This is true of 80% of potential plans. It’s not that I don’t like the people I have made plans with, it’s just that a social life means acting like a human and wearing pants. Not having a social life means pajamas and reading a books, which very rarely asks you how things have been, asks you about your taxes, and then tells you about their kids. Very rarely.

If you think you are in the 80% of a friend’s potential social sector, don’t take it to heart. Because the truth is, even if someone in his 20% social sector cancels, he’s not that bummed out. After 40, no evening out beats a night in. Not one.

Additionally, I take it as a personal affront when people suggest that I leave my house after 6 pm. I mean, what are we, ravers? In 1998? I genuinely think they are trying to tick me off. And if you are one of the horrid people who do this, do not be surprised if you are never again awarded a one-on-one evening with your fortysomething friends. They don’t like or trust you anymore. Monster.

Nostalgia becomes a two-tiered dragon. Burke and I watched When Harry Met Sally last night and I was almost in tears most of the movie. Yes, Billy Crystal is a national treasure, but that wasn’t it. I was emotional because I was being hit by nostalgia on two fronts. First, there was New York City in the 1980s. The second concerned the fist time I had ever seen the movie, which was in the early 1990s at a friend’s sleepover.

I now finally understand my dad’s obsession with the B movies of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Because in your 40s you are old enough to be attacked by a different nostalgias at the same time. This is at once wonderful and horrific moment, and marked by the sadness that nostalgia is only going to get more layered in the coming years. I assume the third tier is the nostalgia about the first time you had two-tiered nostalgia. Oh man. Anyway, that’s why we’re crying. Also, sometimes, it’s the hair.

To remember the thought that was just in your head a few seconds before has become something of a sport that takes our full bodies and minds. And it’s important that we remember, not you, so we won’t ask for help. Ego. Proof of the synapses connecting. For me, this has become connected mostly with Wikipedia and the dozen or so subjects, people, or events that come up daily about which I say “oh, I need to Wiki that.” In your 40s thoughts can flit in and out like a hummingbird whose had six margaritas. Keeping a thought in your head long enough to follow through on its intended discourse is a young man’s game.

So if you see a mid-fortysomething concentrating really hard on nothing in particular, there’s a good chance they’re trying to remember the mid-80s actress who had that one catch phrase that you can’t quite recall, but that you used way too late into the mid-90s. Do not interrupt. It’s therapy.

There are no doubt many more habits and realities of being in your 40s, so if you are in your 40s (or older) please add to this article’s list. That is, if you can remember what you wanted to add in the first place.  

  1. #1 by jeremy on February 4, 2019 - 12:02 pm

    I had a very wide range of friends and associates when I lived in GA. One of them was a former shrink/psychologist to whom I’m obliged to pass along random info (that I’m sure you’re already aware of…you are a few years ahead of me if I recall).

    So what he told me was that you spend your 20’s figuring stuff out, your 30’s making it work, and then your 40’s is when you put it all together. And I don’t like to say it’s true for everyone, but that’s been the case for me. No, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m beyond figuring it out and finally getting my shit together simply because I see all my previous mistakes and I’m…tired.

    Getting old sucks, but it does come with a few benefits.

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