The Wisdom of 49

Having achieved 49 years of life on this Earth (yesterday), I am often asked by the town folk to share my wisdom. “Old man!” they clamor. “Old man, tell us what you have learned in your 70 years!”

“I’m 49.”

“Ha, ha!” they say. “Wait… really?”

It is right that we respect the elders of our society, and honor their wisdom, and learn from them.

And so, here is The Wisdom of 49 (Years):

  • Don’t shave your head unless you know for sure it isn’t shaped like a potato.
  • Over the years, the way you raise your eyebrows when you are surprised begins to carve horizontal wrinkles across your forehead. Meanwhile, over those years, the furrowed brow that marks your look of confusion begins to carve a vertical wrinkle in your forehead. The eventual result is that when you are surprised and confused, the wrinkles on your forehead form a cross. This scares people.
  • You will make that surprised and confused face when you discover the true shape of your head.
  • In your 20s, you look at pictures of your dad in his 20s and wonder what in the heck happened to him. When you are 49, you know.
  • If you are going to get an age-inappropriate car as a mid-life crisis, get a used one. Then, when it breaks down after a few years, you can get another, even less age-appropriate used car. I had a Sebring convertible for a while, then I got a Jeep Wrangler soft top. Next I’m getting one of those little PowerWheels cars Mattel makes.
  • Try not to get into a position where you need to apply for health insurance at this age because you’ll find out that, at least in the view of the insurance companies, you already are a physical wreck who is so close to a prolonged, painful, and expensive death spiral that you are uninsurable at any price.
  • At 49 your wife gains leverage on you (not that she’d ever use it, of course) because she knows that you know that you couldn’t be single again, if only because you can’t imagine wearing your sleep apnea facemask and its associated 10 feet of tubing and mini-HVAC unit in front of a new woman.
  • There is no doubt in my mind that God makes the 10th month of pregnancy (there are ten – count’em) so miserable that a woman will do anything to get that kid out. It is beginning to occur to me, however, that God is using the same trick when it comes to old age…
  • Yesterday, on my birthday, I ate a sensible breakfast of two scrambled eggs. Then for lunch I had bread, chicken, mashed potatoes, a rich, high-end version of a HoHo (the Hostess cake treat, I mean) and funnel cake with powdered sugar for dessert. Then for dinner I had a bacon cheeseburger, onion rings, a beer, then a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and then a few more beers. Considering the shape I was in already, I doubt the day’s eating made a dent. Or an inverted dent, I guess.
  • There comes a point in life that you achieve something that you had always dreamed about, but when you get there, it isn’t as big a deal as you thought it would be. But instead of disappointment, you feel relief, because you no longer have the energy for what you thought it would be like.
  • When you are younger, a good friend has your back in a bar fight. When you get older, a good friend tells you if you have old-man smell.

So, my friends, this is The Wisdom of 49. It is hard-earned, it is the product of true and difficult experience, and it goes a long way toward explaining why the town folk think I look 70 years old..