For most of my early NMB years, when I thought of the number 40 I thought of Casey Kasem’s Top 40. NMB Rivers and I often listened to the countdown on the weekend, trying to record certain songs on our jam boxes by hitting PLAY and RECORD at just the right time to minimize the lead-in. In high school, 40 meant Eight Ball and St. Ides. By the time I got to college, 40 was Sterling Marlin in the Coors Light car. In those days it never much occurred to me that one day I would actually be 40 years old. But here I am. Finished forty full years. And apparently my life begins today. So I decided to keep a running log of the day's events.
~3:00 a.m. - Awakened by a crying child. Sleepily agree with spouse to ignore. Child quickly goes back to sleep.
~5:00 - Awakened by a different crying child. Sleepily agree with spouse to ignore. This child also quickly goes back to sleep.
^^^holdover Christmas miracles^^^
7:00 - Wake up. Check phone. Get notification that I lost in the fantasy football finals. Feel embarrassed for being 40 and playing fantasy football. Stop being embarrassed when I realize Michael Fletcher organizes the league and he is two years older than me.
7:02 - Lie in bed and read daily Bible verses. Contemplate how similar my wife is to the woman in Proverbs 31:10. Feel happy that by the end of the week I will have read the entire Bible in 2017, a literal bucket list item.
7:10. While reading, hear hot water heater rattling two floors below. Update never-ending to do list to call for service. Contemplate cost.
7:14 - First birthday text! NMB Elliott. I am sure he has been up for 2.5 hours directing Camp Goldsmith.
7:27 - First birthday email! From my dentist, Gilbert Dental Group. They never stop working.
7:30 - Out of bed. Contemplate why my body is on fire and every muscle hurts - must have really gotten after it last night!!! Wait, I am married, there must be another explanation.
7:31 - Remember that I took down the huge Christmas tree by myself last evening. This involved trimming it down to a Charlie Brown tree so I could carry it out of the house without going to Labor Finders.
7:47 - Fantasy football email from Michael gloating over my loss.
7:48 - Spend time thinking of appropriate cut downs in response to Michael's email. Decide to be the bigger person and not respond. Contemplate whether this decision will stick.
7:51 - Send text to the Laffitte family on the passing of the matriarch Mrs. Laffitte. The single worst thing about getting older - for me at least - is the death of loved ones, yours and those of the people you love.
7:54 - Text from Brandt. Surprisingly he does not ask for my share of the NMB web hosting fee. He is a dentist so he is rich and has probably forgotten about it.
8:25 - The city public works truck is picking up our Christmas tree off the street. Race to grab child out of bed so she can see it. She is enthralled.
8:30 - My family sings happy birthday to me lying in my child’s bed. This feels really great!
8:33 - First threatened timeout to child.
8:52 - First birthday call! Brandt.
9:07 - Check twitter. First tweet is “5 Haircuts for Men Ready to Accept That They’re Balding”. Alrighty.
9:12 - First inappropriate birthday text. Ryan Lindsay. I flew to Houston to celebrate his 40th over two nights, composed a several stanza rap about his life full of clever lines which I performed in front of dozens of people, many of them gay men who could not fathom my lack of talent, all while standing in front of life size pictures of Ryan in tightie whities that have been shared Lord knows how many times on Facebook. Ryan sent me a two sentence text message for my 40th. We are great friends.
9:16 - Walk downstairs. See wrapped gifts and think I sure have a lot of birthday presents. Realize those are Christmas presents and neither my wife or I opened a single Christmas present on Christmas Day.
9:35 - Decide to stop being the bigger person and send Michael a dagger text. It never gets old.
9:36 - Drive down Pleasantburg. Astonished to see Boda Pipes is opening a new stand-alone location, in the old Po’ Folks. Is there a more resilient business in the county? The country? Seriously I don't know a single person that smokes a pipe and they are building a new location. Everyone I know eats food and restaurants are closing left and right. #yeahthatgreenville
9:38 - Wonder if Boda Pipes sells something other than pipes and pipe tobacco.
9:40 - Still reeling from the Eclipse donut situation at Krispy Kreme so head to Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Coffee is not good. First disappointment of the day - got it out of the way early!
9:45 - Chick Fil A for minis and a peppermint shake. Second disappointment of the day - they are out of peppermint shakes for the season. I first thought this was an excuse the girl at the window told me as she felt sorry for me ordering a milkshake at 9:45 in the morning. But then she offered to solve the problem by making me an Oreo shake with peppermint syrup - I am confident if given the opportunity Chick Fil A employees could broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. “Peace in Jerusalem . . . my pleasure! Would you like any sauces with that?”
10:02 - Arrive home. Child wants the minis. Negotiation ensues, child gets nuggets and I get the bread. Master class; she will be riding me like a horse before the day is out.
10:44 - Look at pictures on the computer with my children and telling stories of times gone by. Like the times we used to burn Christmas trees in the yard rather than putting them on the street.
11:12 - Use the bathroom while child stands outside door and asks “are you going poo poo?” Contemplate state of life. Child informs wife “Daddy had to poo poo.” This does not embarrass me even a little bit. I am officially a parent, and an old one at that.
11:30 - Relive birthdays past. The last milestone was 30, and a joint party with Montague and Corie at the Hipps. That cannot be 10 years ago. Look at picture with NMBs Brandt, Chris and Elliott - yep it was definitely 10 years ago. Brandt looks 17.
11:55 - Walk to Sidewall for lunch. Watch the child use the micro scooter Santa brought and am amazed at how fast they grow up. I am not sure what is more surprising, her making it all the way without breaking a wrist or the fact that we got a table for 5 during the lunch hour.
12:30 p.m. - My dad joins the four of us for a slice and a pint. We make it out of there without making too much of a mess and can just leave a regular tip for once - this really is a special day.
1:45 - Cake and Taittinger at the house. Really miss my mother being present but thankful to have my dad.
2:45 - Open cards with my wife and children. Genuinely moved by my wife's card - we have had ourselves quite a ride in the past couple of years.
3:15 - Reminisce on a lifetime’s worth of mistakes.
3:50 - Brandt arrives. He brings a gift. It is a coffee table book called Not My Boys: The First Year. This insinuates there will be a second year.
4:10 - We are looking at the book, which is the entire blog printed out. I smile as I think that I will be able to tell my children I am published.
4:20 - The 40 year old man’s 4:20 is drinking Pappy with a single large cube in a rocks glass.
4:40 - Brandt attempts to say hello to my child. She responds by ignoring him and going to sleep face down on the hardwood floor. This reminds me of many efforts by Brandt to talk to girls in high school.
5:00 - Remember that I got engaged on this day in 2009 at Pretty Place. It was a crisp day at a tranquil and personally meaningful setting, with nobody there except my wife, me, and a vacationing family that did not speak any English and overlooked my head signals to get lost. And, I put the ring on the wrong finger. Just like you read about. I still think about the sunset we saw that evening over Table Rock.
.5:45 - Get ready to go out to eat. This takes about 7 minutes.
6:45 - Arrive at Northampton to sit at the bar for a pre-dinner glass of wine. Staff looks at me a little odd but I assure them that yes I am 40 and thus we meet the minimum age requirement to sit at their bar. We spend time talking about drinking here when it was Big River Grill. Things are a touch different now.
7:35 - Pay having spent $48 with tip on drinks. I made the wrong career choice.
7:45 - Arrive at Husk for dinner. It will be hard for them to top my expectations. We are seated on time and they have a birthday message to me on the menu - off to a good start!
8:05 - Sit down and look at wine list. It is organized as you would expect, by soil type. I have often thought of myself as an alluvial man, but tonight I may reach for the volcanic. I better stay clear of the metamorphic or we might need an Uber.
8:06 - Continue to look at wine list. I do not see any bottles from grapes grown in “Reedy silt” or “Pickens red clay.” Local sourcing my foot.
8:12 - The man taking my order for a $36 dollar, 7 ounce steak is wearing a plaid shirt and a denim apron. He appears to moonlight at a foundry. I don't think my grandparents would believe me if they were alive to be told.
8:25 - NMB Caldwell is here with his family. He arrives with his own styrofoam toter, which delights me. I hug him several times and think about how much we have shared together over 40 years. He tells me he would like a fourth child. I am stupefied.
8:35 - We spend $12 on fried chicken skins, passing up the $9 cornbread and the pig ears (also $12). We guess what Lewis Grizzard would have thought about all of this.
9:00 - This is the latest we have been at a restaurant in years.
9:12 - We might fall asleep in the restaurant.
9:15 - Main course arrives. It is tasty but we eat as quickly as possible to avoid putting our heads down.
9:30:01 - “Sir can I interest you in dessert for your birthday?”
9:30:02 - “No thank you.”
9:55 - Home. Remember we forgot to take a picture. Take one at home. Give free advertising to artist John Ross Palmer, husband of great friend Ryan Lindsay. Perhaps it is not advertising he wants since it looks like we have been woken up for the picture.
10 - Brush teeth. Grateful for the life I have lived, and hopeful for another Top 40 countdown in 2057. Gosh just typing that number makes it seem a long way away, and frankly unattainable.
10:02 - In bed.
10:05 - Do I hear crying?