(Updated to add additional food for the rant.) 

So I got an e-mail today from a co-worker announcing that he will be celebrating his birthday at a local bar later this week & inviting us all to imbibe with him.  Added to the end, “I will be celebrating my 39th birthday.”   And while not to say that my co-worker looks old, but he is manifestly not 39.

(added) Last month when mr. jolt’s mom was visiting, we celebrated her birthday.  BB asked her how old she was, she demurred at first saying, “oh you don’t tell people how old you are when you’re my age.”  At least she didn’t tell him not to ask such a rude question of a lady.  But perhaps she saw my look of horror/disbelief at this nonsense because a minute or two later she “confessed” to being 57.  Sheesh.  Here is a woman who entered a male-dominated field at a young age and battled sexism (and the reverse ageism inflicted on young women in professional fields) and is in many respects a strong admirable woman (not all, I have many quibbles with her, but they are not the subject of this post) and she won’t tell her grandson how old she is?  I mean, to him, anyone in double digits is ancient anyway (and frankly, she’s a pretty young grandma in many circles).  As they say at Shakesville, what the poop?

What is it about age and the way we succumb to the societally-enforced idea that if one is not between 16-28 that one must pretend to be?  Sheesh.  I look back at my youth ( from the age of 37) and it felt like 0-20 was all about the rush to be older, to be more independent.  And then there is the media emphasis on people in their 20s (ok, aside from the reflexive and non-stop boomermania) so that one is made to feel like one is on a slippery slope, on the downward path, over the hill, etc., the moment one turns 30?

What’s up with the coy assertions that one is turning 39 (for the umpteenth time).  Can’t we get over it already?  What’s up with the rush through childhood and the dismissal  of interest once one is past 35.

My mom, when I was somewhere in my 20s and struggling to make sense of it all, told me that she hated her twenties.  Aside from having me (which she assured me was wonderful), she got married, had her husband shipped off to Vietnam 2 weeks after I was born, had said husband return, separated, became single mom in name as well as fact and, generally, struggled to figure out the crazy world and how she could survive and succeed in it while doing her best to raise me.  She felt her 30s were much better.  And they probably were, more stable certainly, and more financially secure thanks to the climb to a professional position and remarriage.

As for me, I couldn’t wait to turn 30.  Not because my 20s were bad.  For the most part they were actually pretty good.  But there’s a lot of stuff you have to figure out in your 20s and I’m not sure one always has the tools to do it.  So we all struggle through, having fun, stressing out, while feeling compelled thanks to media frenzy to feel like we have to live it up in some fashion before it is “too late”.

Anyway, as I approach 40, I hope that I continue to enjoy the age in which I’m in as opposed to looking back, looking back, the way it seems so many people do.  Yes, my twenties were fun & I was more fit, etc. But my 30s so far have been pretty good.  If you ever hear me saying that I’m turning 39 or 49 “again” please dump beer on my head until I come to my senses.