Reflections on 39 | AspenTimes.com

Reflections on 39

Barry Smith

I jimmied a lock last week. I did. I took my faux-Leatherman tool from its belt pouch, opened the knife blade, wedged it into the crack of a door and bingo, the door opened.It was such a rush that I closed the door and did it again. Twice.I can’t believe it took me this long to jimmy a lock, right on the eve of my 39th birthday, which is this week. Thank God I managed to experience that before I turn 40, because such things are probably harder to appreciate at that age.This is a very significant birthday for me, 39, because 3 plus 9 equals 12, as in months in a year, apostles and days of Christmas. And if you add the 1 and the 2 from the 12, you get 3, as in musketeers, stooges and blind mice. So, you can see that my rationalization has reached nontreatable proportions.So, as I circle the sun once again, I think it’s only fitting that I share with you a random list of another-year-older-like reflections, observations and stuff that I couldn’t find any other place for: Not once in my life has someone said, upon meeting me for the first time, “So, the legend is true.” And that hurts. Why doesn’t the oxygen mask bag inflate? You know, the one that drops down from the ceiling in case your airplane loses cabin pressure? They tell you that right at the beginning, “The bag may not inflate, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working.” Why have a bag at all? And what do they mean, it MAY not inflate? I always think that admission is getting the trip off on the wrong foot: “We have your life in our hands, careening through the sky in a gravity-defying hunk of steel, and we are totally competent and in control, except we can’t predict whether or not the bag will inflate. Who wants a pillow?” This is why I always plug my ears and hum “Mary Had A Little Lamb” really loud when they get to the inflating bag bit. No one around me seems to mind. Since my 20s I have occasionally smoked cigarettes. I’ve gone back and forth many, many times. I binge smoke, then I go cold turkey, then when the mood strikes I buy a pack and I’m right where I left off, sometimes years later. But no matter where I am in my cycle, I always make a big deal out of it, letting everyone around me know that I am only smoking now, but that I don’t smoke always, and if you saw me a month ago I would not have been a smoker, and I’m not a smoker now but I might be soon, and blah blah blah.And now, after nearly 20 years of this nicotine roller coaster, it all seems worth it, because I just came up with such a clever word to describe my tedious behavior:”Cigamarole.” I know it’s hot and hip and in and now and celebrities are doing it and cool people are doing it and pretending that they’ve been doing it for a long time and didn’t just start because they saw celebrities doing it – but I just find poker to be incredibly boring. By this point in life, I thought I would understand why, when light spring water is an option, tuna is still packed in oil. But I don’t. Yech. After many years of weighing the pros and cons, I have decided to NOT change my name to “Ichabod.” That was close. Never again will I experience the awkwardness of not knowing which hip handshake to employ, because as of now I will be proactive in the infliction of awkwardness. When the time comes to greet, I will extend both hands, palms down, middle and ring fingers together, all the others spread apart (think inverted Mr. Spock.) They will remain firm and motionless while you figure out what to do with them. Ha. Who’s the coolest one in the room now, sucker? Other things that have yet to be said to me: “Her Majesty will see you now,” “We’ll have to huddle together for warmth,” “The usual, Mr. Smith?” and “You have a faux-Leatherman AND a flashlight on your belt? That’s so hot.”


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