I turned 35 this week, which means very little in practical terms except that I am now eligible to serve as president of the United States.
And, seeing as how any number of pictures taken of me in college would render me pretty much unelectable, turning 35 has no practical meaning at all. Still, it seems like a big one. It means I am as close to 40 as I am to 30 and as close to (shudder) 50 as I am to 20. For someone as immature as I, that’s a terrifying realization.
When my dad was my age, he was married with a daughter. Plus he owned a home and was almost totally bald. His annual three-day debauch with his college buddies at the Indy 500 notwithstanding, he was a full-fledged adult man. I am, too, I guess. But not like that.
I haven’t lived with my parents since the summer after my freshman year of college, and I’ve held a steady job since leaving home. But I don’t have a wife, a kid or my own home. (And I still have a full head of lustrous hair.) I’ve only recently begun to feel like any kind of grown up.
And now: 35.
That feels like a no-kidding-around milestone, a line of demarcation between “I’m technically grown up but unwilling to act like an adult, so pass me another pitcher of beer before last call” and “Holy lord, I’m about halfway done, and it’s probably time to have a mortgage and a wife and a baby.”
These are extremes, sure, and a guy can’t really go from one to the other overnight. But, damn, man; an arbitrary thing like a birthday can make a guy with no other significant life changes feel old. I was just one day older on Sunday than I was on Saturday, but I was 35 instead of 34. That means something, right? At least symbolically?
Anyway, like I said: a terrifying realization. I feel as though I should buy some pleated khakis, mow the lawn and start reading books about World War II. I need, like, a glass of single-malt Scotch, the box set of The Eagles and a Roth IRA. And I definitely have to stop watching so many cartoons and falling asleep on the couch. It’s all quite overwhelming.
I suppose I can take solace in the popular notion that 40 is the new 30. By that math, I suppose 35 is the new 25. But I remember 25; it wasn’t even that great. I was pretty messed up about it, actually. I remember thinking how crazy it was that I was as close to 30 as I was to 20. I remember thinking I was getting old, and that I’d have to really start growing up. I started comparing myself to other people who had reached greater success by 25 like Mozart and Joe Montana. It was depressing.
But I made it through that existential crisis OK. And I guess I know, deep down, that I’ll get through this one, too. When I turn 45 I’ll probably look back at this week and realize how crazy it was for me to think 35 was old. And then I’ll swish my brandy in its snifter, take a quick peek at my investment portfolio, turn on some cartoons and fall asleep on the couch.
— The Indoorsman