Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Bob Hope's breakfast

THERE are good birthdays, and bad birthdays.

All childhood birthdays are good birthdays. You're older, you're bigger, you can do more things, and go more places. You not only know more stuff, but you're capable of knowing more stuff, your brain and body are growing. Right when you've gotten pretty good at being a child, you're an adolescent, and it's a whole new ballgame. You're a little unsteady at first, but you grow into the role, and birthdays are still really good. You hit some major milestones: you're old enough to drive a car! You're old enough to vote! You're old enough to be drafted! You're old enough to go to adult prison rather than juvenile detention!

Wait a minute, some of those aren't so good. Pretty soon your parents get serious about kicking you out of the cave and forcing you to forage on your own, but if you're like most of us, you've got decent foraging skills by that time, and you do okay. Birthdays, though, don't mean as much as they did before. 23? 25? Who cares.

Then something bad happens. 29. 30. Birthdays, which used to be so great, suddenly aren't great at all. In fact, they're kind of scary. Instead of getting smarter and stronger, you find your mad skillz at hoops or Unreal Tournament aren't as great as they used to be, and although you can get back to your old form if you practice, you have to practice a lot more than you used to, and your skills seem to deteriorate faster. And you realize that once you're past 30, the 18 and 20 year old girls don't look at you the way they used to. Your self-image takes a major hit. 

40. Now you can't get back to your 20-year-old game no matter how much you practice. The young girls think of you as an 'old guy'. Your hair is going. You develop these weird aches and pains when you wake up in the morning, and even though they go away during the day, you just aren't as limber as you used to be. You realize, sometime around 45 to 49, that you have to hold the newspaper farther away than you used to, to be able to read it. Birthdays, which used to be so great, are really sucking hard.

50. You get your first letter from AARP. You vomit, then go shopping for a red sports car.

But after 50, something odd happens. Birthdays begin to get better. You aren't in any better shape at 60, but all the fantasies that you really weren't any different than you were at 20 have been beaten out of you. You're an old guy, and by now you're accustomed to the role. You work on your gruff-but-friendly avuncular demeanor.

And after 60 -- I imagine, because I have not been to that far land yet -- maybe birthdays begin to get better. After all, think of the alternative. Each birthday is an accomplishment, a victory against death. By the time you're 80 or 90, every day is something of an accomplishment, another little chance to grasp some of the sweetness of life on earth, before being swept, willy-nilly, into the immense and forever darkness between the stars that lies beyond. Bob Hope must wake up every morning thinking, Damn, I'm alive! This is great! Let's have breakfast! Every breakfast Bob Hope eats must have the qualities of a religious ceremony, a celebration of life and survival, the eggs and coffee like communion wafers, the body and blood of the world of concreteness and existence, the very flesh of reality and being. Pass the raspberry jam!

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