Happy birthday to me

happy birthday

Life is good

It's my birthday. Today I'm 62 years old, and that's a good thing, considering the alternative.

I've reached the age when a birthday is once again something to celebrate. It wasn't always so. There was an era when I steadfastly refused to have any more birthdays. It's true we live in a culture that values — some would say "is obsessed with" — youth. But once you reach a certain age, benefits begin to accrue:

• You start to get discounts on things, just for being old. Just last week I discovered that the car wash gives me a discount on Wednesdays.

• People forgive you for being irrascible, curmudgeonly, or even truculent. In fact, they expect it. You can say exactly what you please. You can "kick down," and you no longer have to "kiss up."

• The fact that your hair is both graying and disappearing no longer bothers you — at least as much.

• And there's no end of reassuring news. Recently, we've learned that a few extra pounds may help you live longer, and today there is a report from the BBC that alcohol stimulates the growth of brain cells!

On the other hand, there are drawbacks.

• One has to contend with an astonishing increase in the number of fools in the world, and sadly many of them are found in the highest elected offices in our land.

• More of one's discretionary income has to be devoted to stain-removal products as the fronts of one's shirts become an ongoing food diary. What's up with that?

• Hair migrates from one's head to one's ears and nostrils, and one is forced to adjust grooming routines accordingly. And eyebrows grow with sheer abandon.

• You begin to understand Andy Rooney, and it's not just the eyebrows! Once in a while, George Will makes sense, and that's really scary!

Living long, while living well, is clearly the best revenge. And I intend to get a lot more revenge.

And when my time comes to depart this life, as it surely will, I'm thinking the Pope was onto something. Unfortunately, my friends don't seem to have much enthusiasm for dressing me in a Santa Claus suit and carrying me around town on their shoulders.