Dreams that Won’t Come True After 33

Posted on August 30, 2011


Tomorrow I celebrate my 33rd birthday by boarding a plane back to Shanghai.  I feel a bit cheated that I’ll be traveling east and the change in time zones will cut significant time from my birthday.  If my calculations are correct, my birthday will only last 19 hours.  Where will these 5 hours go?  Somebody owes me these missing 5 hours, but I’m not sure to whom I should address my complaint.  If there’s an international body responsible for mediating birthday disputes, I’d like to have these 5 hours restored and made available to use throughout the year as I see fit. 

If Todd asks me to help him move, I can spend one hour of my birthday when I answer, “Sorry, it’s my birthday.” 

If someone gets mad at me for something that really is my fault, I can answer, “I guess I was distracted because it’s my birthday,” and he’ll feel guilty. 

When my wife tells me the kids are singing in a school Christmas pageant, I can ask, “Why am I being punished on my birthday?”

Making People Feel Guilty is the Greatest Gift of All

Because I’ll be traveling and out of touch all day, I look forward to making friends and family feel guilty by saying, “Not one person wished me happy birthday.  Nobody called.  Nobody made me a cake.  Nobody gave me a present.”  Their guilt will entitle me to ask for favors all year long without ever having to do anything in return.  Could there be a better birthday gift? 

Amsterdam Layover?

I’ll spend 9 of these 19 birthday hours on layover in Amsterdam.  I’ve been through the Amsterdam airport many times, but I’ve never left during a layover because I’ve heard there isn’t much to do in Amsterdam.  Everyone keeps telling me to go to the “coffeeshops” and ask for the “special blend”, but if I wanted coffee I could easily buy it in the airport Starbucks for the price of U2 concert tickets. 

Dreams I Never Had Until I Realized My Age Made Them Impossible

As I get older I realize certain dreams are definitively out of reach at 33.

I’ll never be in a boy band.  Some readers will immediately think of a few boy banders who lip-synched well into their thirties, but name one who made the group after 30. 

I’ll never be the new Dylan in a 90210 high school soap opera.  In the original 90210, the oldest high schooler was 29-year-old Gabrielle Carteris, who played a sophomore.  If any reader can cite an actor on any high school soap opera like Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, or 90210 who played a high schooler at 33 or older, this information would truly be a great birthday present.

I won’t be the youngest to scale Mount Everest.  This record belongs to 13-year-old, Jordan Romero.  At 13 years of age, if my son, Optimist Prime, can remember to change his shirt every day I’ll be thrilled.

I won’t be the youngest man in space.  This honor belongs to Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov who was 25 years old.  I’m also probably not the youngest to observe Gherman seems an odd name for a Soviet cosmonaut.

I won’t be the youngest US Senator, although I still dream of becoming the youngest Senator censured for not wearing pants on the Senate floor.

I had a crush on Serena when she hosted the Channel One news shown each day at my middle school. She impressed me by knowing way more about current events than any of the girls at my school.

I won’t be an MTV VJ.  I know Serena Altschul continued VJing into her thirties, but she started much younger.  Does anybody have Serena’s phone number so I can talk to her about my chances, perhaps over dinner? 

I won’t be on American Idol because the cutoff is 28.  And I wouldn’t win American Idol anyway since my wife insists the ability to select the perfect karaoke playlist does not automatically translate into a recording contract. 

And saddest of all, I won’t be the youngest to combine all of these dreams to be the first boy bander/high school soap opera star/astronaut/Senator/MTV VJ/American Idol winner to scale Everest.

I Feel Increasingly Awkward Around Young People

The use of the term “the man” seems to be the exclusive property of teenagers and those in their twenties.  When I talk to anyone in their twenties about “the man” keeping us down, they appear squeamish.

Even if I attend a party with people in their twenties, I fear I’m excluded when they later talk about all the cool young people at the party.  “Everyone who was anyone was there!  Everybody and Paul.”

Posted in: Columns