I turn 48 this week. I don’t make this public so I’ll be showered with birthday wishes; that’s what Facebook is for. I just want to talk about that age: 48. As birthdays go, this one has got to be one of the least milestoney. If milestones are measuring points on life’s great journey, 48 is that single shoe abandoned on the shoulder of the road.
Forty-eight is “Your call is important to us; please stand by.” Forty-eight is the guy you see at the party and say, “Oh. Are you still here?” Forty-eight is leftovers. Again.
Forty-eight is smack between “I still have time” and “It’s too late” and a mere stone’s throw from “I just need to sit a minute.”
But surely great things can still be achieved at 48. Surely I can turn to that most reliable of reassurers, the Internet, to inspire me to make 48 the best mediocre year yet.
Of course I can. Over at museumofconceptualart.com, you can enter your age and discover “Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age.”
I punched in “48” and learned that Umberto Eco wrote his first novel, The Name of the Rose, at 48. Well, that’s encouraging. As the saying goes, “If your actions lead to Sean Connery playing a monk, you, my good fellow, have lived.”
Next I learned that George Blanda played his last year of NFL football at 48. Quite something, but less an accomplishment than a denouement. “Get off the field, slow George Blanda, we can’t hear the plays over the popping of your creaky joints, and your weepy old man eyes are starting to bum us out.”
Then I read that “V. Fick was the first person to have a bilateral ceramic hip replacement at Doctor’s Hospital in Massillion, Ohio and was back to gardening in under a month.” Hip replacement. Gardening. The only way this entry could make No-First-Name Vick seem any older would be if the writer had used the word “spry.”
And that was it. Those were all the Things Other People Accomplished When They Were My Age.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t accomplish great things myself at 48. (Hint: it will involve gas-powered bobbleheads.) What I should be doing is finding out things other people accomplished when they were 47, see what kind of benchmark I should have reached by now.
I entered my current age.
I learned that, at age 47, Edward Jenner pioneered the vaccination against smallpox. That’s impressive, but as impressive as my all-out assault last Saturday on the mould growing behind the toilet tank? Depends on your perspective and proximity to the mould and/or smallpox.
Next: Julio Franco of the New York Mets became the oldest player to hit a grand slam. Fine, but did Sean Connery play him in a movie? Not yet.
At age 47, Kent Couch attached 105 helium balloons to a lawn chair and flew 193 miles, although the entry fails to say whether he did so on purpose.
Finally, at 47, Prescott Bush – father and grandfather of two American presidents – “was director of a company whose assets were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Even after America entered World War II, he continued working for, and profiting from, companies that helped finance Hitler’s rise to power. The money he made from these ventures helped establish the Bush family fortune.” I don’t think this is an accomplishment; I think this is someone with a pretty serious axe to grind over at “Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age.”
What’s great about the Internet is that you can keep on searching until you find an answer you like. For instance, Robert Downey Jr. is 48, and he’s freakin’ Iron Man. Charlie Sheen is 48… Yeah. Umm… Robert Downey Jr. is freakin’ Sherlock Holmes!
Noah Webster planted the seed for insufferable word geeks forevermore with his Compendious Dictionary of the English Language¸ published at 48. In 1869, at age 48, Dostoyevsky wrote The Idiot, cementing his reputation and stealing the proposed title for two out of three future political biographies.
I’m trying to stay positive (the collective motto of the 48-year-old) but it’s hard to when searching for things 48-related and you learn that even the suggested gift for 48th wedding anniversaries is lame: opticals — for instance a magnifying glass, bifocals or other old-people things.
So you can see why I’m not excited about turning 48.
Though cash would help.