The 1/3 Life Crisis (Or, A Really Boring Post Where Al Babbles On And On About His Own Mortality)

I turned 26 on Saturday.

Not that you should care. Honestly, I don’t really care, either. I find most everything about birthday’s to be extremely narcissistic and in another (less correct) way, seemingly arbitrary. Seriously, who the fuck is society to tell you how old you are? Society made fucking Third Eye Blind popular and elected William Howard Taft president. Society is a bunch of morons.

So I approach my birthday with more of a half assed spirit than anything else. I’ve had a few good ones with plenty of drunken debauchery (birthday weekend in Myrtle in ’03 comes to mind, but that was more of a “thank god we didn’t die during that whole ‘war’ thing, now let’s go drink our faces off at the beach for a few days… Oh? It’s Al’s birthday, too? Kick ass. More chocolate cake shots, barkeep!”) but I prefer to keep things a little more low key. A few friends and a bunch of booze, now that's right up my alley.

My favorite b-day was during my minimalist summer of ’02 when I gave up having a cell phone and AC in my car and crashed at my buddy Rob’s apartment right off of the beach in Emerald Isle, NC. It was a glorious summer. Nothing but body boarding, reading, drinking, and sunning (eh, and some playstation. Hey, I was pretending to be a minimalist, not a sadist.)

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I spent that day standing in front of an office building in the hot ass Carolina sun, holding a rifle and with 20 pounds of gear on my person, guarding it from... well, I'm not sure what we we're guarding it from (Rednecks?), so I was unable to check my e-mail at my normal work and never received any of my birthday wishes from my family. By that evening, I had completely forgotten that it was even my birthday until Rob got home and asked if I wanted to head down to The Royal Gargoyle (RIP... great bar) for some pints to celebrate the big deuce-deuce. Flabbergasted by my own shoddy memory, yet always up for pints (let alone birthday pints), I said sure.

The surprise birthday -- That one takes the proverbial cake.

Where am I going with all this? Besides hell, I’m really not sure. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had to get a new drivers license, this year's birthday would probably have been as unremarkable (read: the way I like them) as many of the past.

Except for one other part: I am now 1/3 of the way to my optimal death age.

I don’t really want to live to see 80. That sounds scary. My grandpa is coming up on 80, and I think the amount of change he has seen in his lifetime would have killed me somewhere near the disco era

He was born in the roaring 20’s, raised during the Depression, and fought in the Pacific. He came back to the states, got a degree, got a job, got married, and had four kids. He watched two of them die. He’s gone from radio to TV to Beta to VHS to an ill-fated flirtation with laser discs to DVDs. He went from raising two newborns in a tiny basement apartment in a sketchy area of Chicago to owning three different homes across America so he and my grandma could travel at will.

He once bought a Cadillac at an auction on a whim.

When I compare where I am in my life to where he was at 26, I seem to fall a little flat. At 26, he had helped save the civilized world from tyranny and oppression and was already well on his way to a having a successful career and raising a loving family. Me? I was in one of the most ridiculous and unnecessary wars in human history, I finally got a real job just this summer, and I live in sin with The Lady Friend. My most recent accomplishment is accurately quoting fifteen continuous minutes from Back to the Future.

So… ummm… yeah.

Point being (besides the fact that I suck) is that I would like to die at 78. I want to still be healthy enough to play a game of tennis and not yet crapping myself on a daily basis. And that’s where Monday’s news comes into play.

My grandpa has accepted that death is coming right up on him. He and my grandma joke about it all the time. I find that to be extremely honest, refreshing, and healthy. We’re all going to die, so you might as well come to grips with it and embrace it. Hell, the worst thing that could happen is that this is the end of the whole crazy ride and there’s nothing left afterwards, on that other side.

Personally, that is the only thing that spooks me about dying: The possibility that death is nothing but nothingness.

And if it is, I’m going to be seriously pissed (but yet, I won’t be…)

Anyway, on Monday, my grandpa came very close to dying. Drowning, to be more precise. In a tractor accident.

Drowning in a fucking tractor accident. Yup.

Luckily, the tractor pinned him down in a part of the lake that was extremely shallow. Knowing my grandpa, I doubt he would want to go that way (again, being drowned during a fucking tractor accident), but, hey who knows? Maybe when he was 26, he said to himself, “I hope I die when I’m 78 in a tractor accident. And drowning in said tractor accident would be perferable.”

And maybe, when his wish was ultimately fulfilled, he decided “screw this! Let’s keep going!”

And he’s still with us, ‘til whenever. Hopefully for one more Green Bay Packers championship, although that may be a ways off.

I decided over the weekend that not only do I want to go when I’m 78, but I’d like it to be from a hippopotamus.

And I would like that hippo to eat me right after I hit a hole in one.

So that means I have now officially hit my 1/3 mark here in this lifetime. So there’s a lot of living left to go. Will my life be as full as my grandpa’s by then? Probably not in my eyes, but I doubt he thinks his life was as full as his grandpa’s, either.

Thus it happens with the wondrous romanticizing which comes over the years. Someday, our kids and grandkids will look back on these trivial times in which we live, where people get upset about Mel Gibson hating Jews and Paris Hilton being a skank, and with enough time, those things will be gone. The wars will still be. And some socio-economic changes to. And maybe some sports. But most of the bull shit will be gone.

And then, with the bull shit wiped away, the important things that we’re probably not even noticing right now will come to light. Friends. Family. Events so mundane that they mean next to nothing to you at the time but punch into your memory ten years later with an intensity that can be frightening.

Through those time-tinted glasses, we’ll look like we lived through the most interesting and important times in history, if only in the eyes of a few generations or so.

And that will be what that will be, on and on...

And if I hit a hole in one when I’m 78, will I be on the lookout for a hungry, hungry hippo?


Happy Birthday Al.

Thanks, E.

And a happy de agosto el noveno to you.
Awesome story. Man, what would be worse? Somehow getting accidentally shot while mired in the water during a tragic tractor accident. Wow.
This post sucks. I didn't see my name in here at all.

Get over yourself.

Happy birthday though.

We still on for drinking saturday? Do we dare have ANOTHER dogtown party?

(Kidding about the whole shitty post thing)

You should be careful about wishing to be killed by a hippo, considering you live about 300 yards from one....two actually.
What's the beef with Taft? Big William Jennings Bryan fan?
Mozzy, Operation Seamus is a go.

We're thinking about going to St James beforehand to absolve us of our sins which will later come that evening, if you are interested.

(Boy, that sure was a poorly constructed sentence.)

Dogtown parties rock. Lets get real drunk and let the giraffes out of the zoo.

Valatan, any former president not named James K. Polk was a bad president in my eyes. Taft included.
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