I think it was Betty Davis who said old age is not for sissies. But it was Tolstoy who said the biggest surprise in a man’s life is old age. Old age sneaks up on you, and the next thing you know you’re asking yourself, I’m asking myself, why can’t an old man act his real age? How is it possible for me to still be involved in the carnal aspects of the human comedy? Because, in my head, nothing has changed. –David Kepesh
I never imagined myself fashioned after a Philip Roth character, but I loved that quote. Memory doesn’t serve me much–it’s been years since I’ve read the book Elegy is based on–so I’ll play it safe and assume the quote is only found in the film. And I love the professor of desire, David Kepesh. The wooer of women young and old. The man who awakes from his metamorphosis as a giant breast. In college student mind, he was an aspiration. I purchased The Breast after reading an essay on banality featured in a book. When I learned that there were two more novels featuring the character, I went out and bought them.
Growing up into a sexually active literary professor wasn’t in the cards for me. I lacked confidence. I lacked motivation. I had a girlfriend I imagined myself with for the rest of my life because even soulless monsters want that sort of thing in the end, right? To be human. At least to feel human. Years of trial and error, the error fought its way to the surface and buried me within the tidal wave.
Growing old isn’t for sissies, but growing up is optional. For years, I’ve remained in my “guy” stage. The not a boy, not yet a man (to paraphrase Britney Spears) stage. I lived my life through literary characters, that I forgot to live myself.
Today is my birthday
(according to WordPress, anyway. For the rest of you, it’s actually tomorrow), and I’m at the great divide. I’m now thirty with a son. I’m now thirty and I have a friend. I’m now thirty and I’m a failure at everything I set out to do but was too distracted to care about.
This isn’t a pity party, this is realization. Like a member in group therapy. “Hello, I’m Guillermo and I’m a manchild.” The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. And I have a problem.
Turning thirty is a milestone. Something to celebrate. However, old rituals are wiped clean from the slate. New ones have to be made. My coworker has stated that I need to celebrate my thirtieth year on this earth. I’m not sure what I’m doing tomorrow, but I’ll make sure it’ll be at least an ounce of fun. I just need to stop being such a damn let down and downer.
So tomorrow, I have no troubles. No annoyances. No reasons to be sad. I can start life again on Thursday.