This past weekend I turned the very uneventful age of 41. There is NOTHING special about turning 41. They don’t make Hallmark greeting cards for 41. They don’t make “over the hill” jokes for 41. You already did all that for 40. 41 is like a Tuesday. 21 is a Saturday. You plan for years just about what that day will be. You put on your favorite outfit, and you tell yourself you are going to have a good time. You won’t be crazy, but then, if you are lucky, you have friends and family that don’t let you go more than a few minutes without taking a disgusting shot. You end up being a mess, but your friends take care of you. 41 is maybe a glass of red wine after work. Maybe you get a cake you don’t want to eat because you are trying to lose weight. 41 is a Tuesday….
That what I thought until my wife and family turned 41 into one,I won’t forget. A small little gathering on a Friday night with my wife, kids, and my best friends. A quiet night of food, and drinks, and stock market talk and whatever other dumb thing we can argue about. It was perfect in lots of ways. Then on Saturday night we had another small gathering. This time with my parents, my wife’s parents and my brothers and sister with their families. We all have been really good with this whole Covid thing. We are careful, because we love nights like we got to have. So, we all do our part to make sure those nights are as safe as they can be. I’m 41 and for a week before that Saturday I was asked by my Mom and Dad to pick the dinner menu. It’s something they have done for as long as I can remember. Birthday boy or girl picks the menu. I went with homemade pizza this year. For the last like 10 years I have picked spaghetti and meatballs. For lots and lots of reasons. I love knowing that sauce has been cooking since the early morning hours. I love that it reminds me of my grandparents, and I hope it does the same for my Mom and Dad. It always tastes good, but for me it’s more about a memory or feeling. My parents are really good chefs, and they are a little adventurous in the kitchen, so when I say spaghetti and meatballs, I’m sure they roll their eyes a bit. But I love traditions, I love thinking that somewhere long ago my grandmother was stirring a giant pan of sauce and listening to all her kids and their families talking to loudly, running around the house, knocking things over and fighting with their cousins.
But, this year, since we weren’t celebrating the birthday during the traditional Sunday meal, I went with homemade pizza. Perfect Saturday night meal. And they make awesome pizza. So, we talked and ate and drank a little wine, I watched my three nieces cause absolute havoc in the house. Running and Screaming until someone stopped them, only to do the exact same thing just a few minutes later. My parents bought a football ice cream cake for me, which is a story for another day, and we ate that, and I opened a few gifts. A few funny cards, and gifts and then I got a nice big gift from them. They had bought me an Apple watch. It is awesome, but if you know me by now you know, it’s the thought and the effort that went into that I will always love. They thought about me.
I also got a gift from my youngest brother. If you have to google this, I feel bad for you, but it was “Where’s Waldo”. They were “Where’s Waldo” Van sneakers. They brought back so many memories for me. I hope for you that book is the same, but it puts me in a few awesome places with my grandparents and even my wife’s grandmother. It holds this cool place in my heart. But admittedly I was a bit puzzled what to do with them. I joked in the car on the way home that I can’t picture wearing them. I don’t have the feet confidence that my brother has. He buys the strangest shoes, but they always look so awesome on him. I always am envious of that confidence on him.
That night the wife and kids were having an early night in and a buddy had texted to see if I wanted to stop over later to watch the Celtics. With not many chances to go out, my wife was very happy to tell me to go, her chance to not have to stare at my ugly face while she drifted off to dreamland. So, I went over and I was describing to them my night. About, picking my dinner, the football cake, the Apple Watch, and finally the “Where’s Waldo” shoes. I showed them a picture and I said, “where the hell am I going to wear those”. I was expecting a nod of agreement, but instead I got this “What are you talking about? You are going to smile every single time you walk by those shoes. You are going to think to yourself, today is the day I will wear them, and you will remember you won’t because you don’t have your brothers shoe confidence and you will smile again. Those shoes are maybe the best gift you will have ever gotten”. They were completely right. I was trying to downplay my night by saying I couldn’t believe I was 41 and picking out a dinner menu for my parents to cook. I had not realized until they put me in my place just how incredibly lucky I am. Not how lucky I was, how lucky I am. I needed to hear that. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my damn face again for the rest of that night.
41 was a great birthday. It was a SATURDAY after all. I don’t even have Tuesday birthdays. There are not better people on this planet than my family and friends. I don’t deserve this life, but, while I am here, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it. I didn’t expect anything from 41 and it was my favorite one since last year, who beat out the year before, and the year before that, etc…. What a great thing that my family and friends have the power to do, turn my uneventful day to one of my favorites. They turned a normal day to a full page in my autobiography. I love my fucking life….