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A new list for a new age

Barry Smith

As I sit here, right now, in this moment, typing this, I am in my late 30s. But, thanks to the magic of early deadlines, by the time you read it, that will no longer be the case. I will be 40. Years old, that is.I’m remembering a time, about seven years ago, when I attended a friend’s 40th birthday party. She was very enthusiastic about her newfound age, dancing around to music that only she could hear, announcing happily to the guests that “this is what 40 looks like, oh yeah” while her female friends chimed in that she “has it going on” and even went so far as to call her “girlfriend,” probably in hopes that their supportive cheers would put an end to the show and move things a little more quickly towards the cake-cutting part of the evening.I was 33 at the time, a place from which one has absolutely no concept of 40, and I remember clearly what I thought at the time: “Rationalization is an ugly, yet powerful thing.””How can she be so happy?” my early-30s self thought. “Why is she dancing around like that? Shouldn’t she be in the garage sucking a tailpipe? Doesn’t she know she’s 40?”I went home that night and made a list of goals for myself, things to accomplish before I turned 40. I lost the list a few days later, but I vaguely remember having including “Die before I’m 40” on it. That seemed like the only way to be sincere about enjoying this culturally ominous milestone.But, assuming I survive the next few days, I failed to reach that goal. And, now that I think about it, there are plenty of other things that I still haven’t managed to do at this crucial juncture of my life.Let’s make another list, whaddya say?Things I’ve not yet managed to do by age 40n I have yet to wake up and find myself as the ruler of a small tropical island. I guess I always hoped there was some adoption or baby-switching or mistaken identity debacle in my past that would someday land me on such an island being served alcohol-filled coconuts by the beautiful inhabitants who worship me as the return of their prophesied god. I’m still waiting, and at this point it’s the only reason I bother to check my PO box every day. n I haven’t seen “The Godfather.”Look, there are lots of movies I haven’t seen, so what’s the big deal? Well, apparently it’s the biggest of deals, according to some people. Namely people who HAVE seen “The Godfather.” My friend John says that having not seen “The Godfather” would be fine if, say, I were new to the whole “watching movies,” thing, or had only recently gained the use of my eyes. But anything less than that seems unacceptable.In case you’re worried, I have it on my Netflix queue, right below “The Tony Hawk Secret Skateboard Tour.” So, you can leave me alone now.* I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me. n Back to the topic of movies, I’ve also never seen “The Wizard of Oz.” I tried to watch it on TV when I was a kid, but since I lived in a place where tornados were a seasonal reality, and there was a thunderstorm happening outside at the time, I got scared at the part with the tornado, which I understand is early on in the film. I cried, and my mother changed the channel. I haven’t been able to watch it since. What? That doesn’t mean anything about me at all.n Never: Solved a crime, jumped onto or from a moving train, yelled “Nurse, more suction!” (well, not in an actual surgical situation) or pitched a wang dang doodle. Honestly, what HAVE I been doing for the past four decades?n Until a few years ago, I didn’t know how to tie a tie. Then I learned, tied one a few times, then didn’t do so again until about a month ago, only to realize that I’d forgotten how. As I don’t foresee relearning in the next few days, I’ll be 40 years old and unable to tie a necktie. Life is actually turning out even better than I’d hoped.


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