And Then I Was 40

Well, that happened fast.

It has been 40 years since that fateful Monday morning on June 9th, 1980. Region’s hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. A doctor performed a C-section. Snip snip snip. (Is that what a C-section sounds like?) Sam Tanner was lifted from a cozy sac of water into all this.

I’ve been reeling ever since.

Staggering along many paths. But I’ve made it here. Where’s here? I haven’t the foggiest. But, damn it all you youngsters, I’m 40.


I woke up on my fortieth birthday the same way you woke up on my fortieth birthday. Unless you’re too young to read. Or dead. In either case, you shouldn’t be reading this. These blogs are intended for the literate and the living.

Anyway, I woke up on my fortieth birthday. Shuffled down the hall. That’s what forty year-olds do. They shuffle. Took a look in the mirror. Slowly, my hair began to turn gray. Then it all fell out. A chin fell out of another chin which fell out of another chin on my chin. And then my stomach, much like the Grinch’s heart, grew three sizes until I looked like the late great William Howard Taft. I groaned. My groan wheezed. The wheeze rattled my teeth. Those rattled teeth fell out and then I looked like the late great George Washington. Sans the wooden teeth. My knees gave way and I collapsed into a wheelchair. Like the late great Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Say what you want about my forty years of staggering around here, but I sure do know my presidents. Well, some of them. I can’t tell you much about James K. Polk. I bet you can’t tell me much about him, either. Forgettable. Which is what we all are after enough time passes. Unless you’re Genghis Khan. Nothing forgettable about him. And if you are Genghis Khan? Well, thanks for reading my blog. I welcome all sorts here. Rarely do I cast the first stone. Or the second.

Forty is supposed to make you muse on the passing of time. It’s hard to muse without teeth. But I’ll give it a try:

Boy, I sure am old.

There, I sang, o muse, of the aging of Samuel, son of Clayton, that brought countless words to this blog.

Now that was clever. I just reworked a line from The Odyssey. This blog really is getting away from me. Forgive me, I’ve been rereading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to pass time during the pandemic. That nonsense must be influencing this nonsense. Back to musing:

Forty is a long time except that it isn’t. Not in an infinite universe that is likely 13.7 billion years old. Forty is a blip. Especially in relation to my intention to live forever, but let’s avoid religion here. Nothing forgettable about an infinite soul but, like polite Americans who avoid saying anything serious about anything, I’m avoiding religion here.

Oh, I suppose we Americans can be loud about religion or politics or whatever. But we usually relegate our loudness to social media. And, more often than not, it is a swarm of Russian bots with American flags in their profile pictures who work us up to violence. Convince us to cast the first stone and the second stone and so on and so forth. Until we’re posting about racism, a pandemic, and anything else that gets us going. Get ’em, Putin. And by ’em, I mean Crimea. Because we’re so distracted over here we have nothing to say about your reckless accumulation of power, wealth, and resources, you old codger, you.

Boy, this blog took a turn. They usually do. Staggering along many paths, I guess. But I do keep staggering. See:


My fortieth birthday was about everything I could want. My wife Katie. My two sons Solomon and Samson. A birthday cake decorated by my boys. Swamped with sprinkles. The cake was like me. It was reeling, but delicious.

And yes, I rant about social media in these blogs. Get of my lawn and all that. But there is something so nice about random birthday messages on Facebook. From all sorts of people I’ve met along the way. Different eras and places. It’s nice to be reminded of all those connections.

And really, I’m not doing so bad.

I took this old body up to the park with my sons each day last week. We continue to believe that a pandemic is a pandemic. And, unlike Polio, there’s no vaccine yet. Poor FDR. So we are avoiding social gatherings. Public places. This means everyday is a struggle to keep the boys occupied and exercised without over-relying on Spongebob or Mario or whatever. So I take them to our usually-empty park in this mostly empty corner of Central Pennsylvania.

We ended up on the basketball court. I took this old body for a spin. My jump shot isn’t pretty, but I was knocking down shots. And I can still chase down loose balls with the best of them. My game was always about hustle and speed. I’ve still got some of those attributes forty years later. And Solomon is learning how to throw the frisbee. So we shuffled into the field. And damned if this body can’t still track down some pretty errant throws. Solomon’s aim is all over the place.

So don’t write me off yet. I’ve got some spit and vinegar left. Some life and energy. And I’m still finding ways to channel it.

I’ve got a long way to go, yet. Where am I going? No idea. But I’ll keep staggering down the road.

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