Yesterday was my 40th birthday, and while that’s the sort of thing which probably deserves a long, introspective write-up about the meaning of the middle of life, I’m far too focused on the tiny demon which is trying to claw its way through my intestines.
Let me back up.
I’m not exactly what you’d call “fit,” unless you’re trying to shove me into the gaping maw of a sudden tyrannosaur so you can make your escape, in which case I’d probably fit quite well. Rather, I’m sort of round, and while I’ve become less spherical over the past year or two, I still wouldn’t attempt to murder me and think you could get away with it by making it look like I’d had a heart attack while cycling.
I also have a back which routinely hurts, knees and ankles to match, and I smoke—rounding out the already-round image of a man to whom “good health” is as alien a concept as having sex with another person in the room.
That said, my health in the two weeks leading up to my birthday was legendarily awful.
It started simply enough, with a late-winter cold that took hold of my sinuses faster than I take hold of an unattended plate of pasta. Then, something between my shoulder blades decided I hadn’t had a good cry for a while and turned moving my arms, nodding my head, and sleeping into a special kind of torture.
And when you don’t generally get all that much sleep to begin with, well, I passed “tired” sometime around last Thursday, and am just wrapping up the “I hate life” phase of insomnia before settling into “motion hallucinations of clowns without pants.”
Which brings us up to yesterday, when I spent half the morning on the toilet. I began to suspect I’d maybe caught a stomach bug right about the fifth flush, and the white-hot agony I feel in my guts today seems to support that conclusion.
So, happy birthday to me!
But really, though, what could possibly be written or said about turning 40 which hasn’t been written or said before?
Do I make an over-the-hill joke? Write a self-deprecating stanza about my thinning hair, which actually started thinning a decade ago? Should I confess that the sense of creeping, existential horror I feel pales only to my apprehension of life’s end and the putrid promise of death hanging before us all?
How about none of the above?
Instead, I’ll leave you with a word of advice, the one piece of wisdom, that one bit of distilled truth which the Universe has so far seen fit to grant me in my forty-years-long, yet all-too-brief life…
Buy soft toilet paper.