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Parting Shot: Forever 31

While I was driving through Dublin the other day, a white Nissan 350Z buzzed past and nearly sent me spinning into the turn lane. Down the road, I pulled up next to it and looked over.

Some f*cking kid with a stupid haircut was behind the wheel wearing sunglasses and bobbing his head to dubstep. He was reclined a little with a slight grin on his face, just gazing forward into the future, which clearly extended only an hour or two in front of him.

It was at that point that I became unstuck in time, as Vonnegut would say. The year was 1999 and I was in the exact same Jeep I still drive today, listening to My Name Is by Eminem, with the top down when it was too cold, rocking stupid dyed blonde hair. More than likely, I was off to court some girl nearby or gearing up to go see a terrible popcorn movie, the future merely an abstract concept I’d never reach. Plenty of time to be an astronaut or president or something, but at the time? Just cruisin’…

The memory faded and I was returned to my Jeep in the present day, which was also showing its wrinkles and belly fat. Instead of an Abercrombie football jersey, I was wearing a tie and sweater vest with slacks. (Yeah, that’s what I call pants now). The future was indeed real, and shorter than it once was, and in it, I’m going to be what I am, but hopefully with enough money to finish the library on the second floor of my house. Looking back at the kid, I sighed a little and rolled down my window.

“Hey, man.”

He slowly looked over, bobbing his head.

“Sup?”

“Turn that bullshit down, it doesn’t even have lyrics! What the f*ck are you in such a hurry for, anyway? Nobody’s in a hurry to see you! The pizzas will keep getting made, whether you’re there or not! And comb that mop, you tool. How can you even afford that car? You should have gotten a used one and put the rest in the bank! And don’t forget…wear sunscreen…”

At 12:05 p.m. on March 15th of this, the year of Our Lord 2000 and 14, I will turn 31 years old. One year of being in my thirties and the only thing I’ve managed to put together is one seemingly universal truth:

Nobody knows what the hell they’re doing.

I remember being 10 and thinking that 20 year-olds probably had a decent idea about how the world worked – which is laughable. Then when I was 20, I figured by 30 I’d have a good handle on things. Now, at 30, I just know that I’ll be 40 and thinking by 50 I might have a clue. If I die at 80, I’m pretty sure my last thoughts are going to be:

“What the hell was all that about?”

That’s if I die by 80. With the way medicine is going, mine might be the first generation that never has to die. Let that sink in for a minute. A lot of generations have said it, but this one seems to have a pretty good handle on how the body actually works. My grandfather wasn’t vaccinated, lived through the Depression and WWII, ate my grandmother’s lard-saturated food for 50 years, and smoked his whole life. He lived to a ripe ol’ age. Now they can print your own kidney and fill it with your cells, and I’m only 30. By the time I’m 60, I might be able to get my 20 year-old body back, and believe me, I’d put it to way better use than I did the first time.

Which reminds me, let’s go back to that kid in the 350Z for a second….

“And another thing! Quit chasing every girl that laughs at your jokes! Find one that likes you, Netflix, and wine, and focus on her! And wear a tie every now and again, for God sake! There’s only one Mark Zuckerberg, and you’re not him! If you needed a lawyer to save you from prison, you’d sure as hell want him to be wearing a suit! You wouldn’t want your doctor wearing shutter shades during an operation, would you?”

Alright, back to the task at hand.

Don’t get me wrong, I had more than my share of fun back in the day. Hell, I had more than a dozen people’s shares of fun, much to my body and my wallet’s detriment. But if a genie showed up right now and told me he could make me 20 again, I’d ask him if I could trade that wish for a better spinal column. I wouldn’t do that shit again if it meant I’d lose an eye. I’d just buy a sweet patch and call it even. In some ways I think it’s a miracle I survived. I doubt seriously that I could reproduce the same results, even if they’re not perfect.

So let the 20-somethings Snapchat entire blackmail files onto a server that must exist somewhere. When they’re talking about how some song they listened to in high school making them feel old because it’s from a decade ago, I’ll be sipping sauvignon and watching No Reservations in my clean house with a woman whose name I know. Then, when I’m 170 years old, it’ll seem like I’m living in a preschool and I’ll pull my own plug when the time comes.

Maybe a little earlier if it turns out all music devolves into dial-up modem noise.

See, if you’re not 30, you don’t get that one, which is a shame, because it’s really funny.

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