My dad threw my mom a surprise 40th birthday party.
I was ten and remember I was allowed to stay for the first part.
He got her a birthday cake in the shape of a tombstone.
“Here Lies Linda”
I remember someone brought a cane and other items associated with old age.
Back then, aka the late 80’s, turning 40 was an Over The Hill birthday, an age where you were officially on the way down, sliding towards death. And it was hilarious to poke fun at it.
It’s not that I thought my parents were old when they turned 40. But in comparison, they seemed to be a lot further ahead than I am. I’m not sure what that even means since I’m in a committed relationship, have a kid, and a job with like health insurance and a 401K.
Maybe it’s that 40 seemed so ADULT, so GROWN. Someone that was 40 dressed like they were 40, looked like they were 40, acted like they were 40.
40 was an age that meant something and that something was being OLD.
Now I don’t know what 40 is. I look around at some of my friends who are 40 or older and they don’t seem at all like my parents back in 1989. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that women didn’t have to wear pleated mom jeans. Comfortable shoes don’t look like orthopedic clunkers. Instead of covering our grays, we dye our hair pink.
40 actually feels like it really is “just a number”.
And yet…I’m not exactly looking forward to turning 40. It’s an age that I don’t want people to think I look like. I would be pissed if someone guessed that I was 40. I felt smug as hell when some younger women at my office thought that I was in my early 30’s and simultaneously insulted that finding out I was about to turn 40 was shocking.
But just like my 20’s, I’m not sure I want my 30’s back either.
So what is it then?
Maybe it does feel like I’m going over a hill and that every birthday after this feels closer to true old age than it ever has before.