I’ll Never Be A Real Dentist

 

 

Life Lessons, Turning 50Oh, dear reader, look how far we’ve come. Time gets away. That’s the worst-kept secret there is, and still we’re caught by surprise at the lateness of the hour, every time.

It’s said that every choice we make removes a multitude of other options from the board. Here, on the eve of my 50th birthday, is the last in a series, the things I’ll never do.

1. I’ll never grow out of this difficult phase.

2. I’ll never twist again, like we did last summer.

3. I’ll never get to the bottom of this 5-gallon jar of pickles I bought at WalMart for just $2.98.

4. I’ll never write The Great American Novel. Or even a serviceable Bolivian one.

5. I’ll never escape these ghosts of 3am.

6. I’ll never be a real dentist.

7. I never was — and I surely never will be again — as irresistible to women as I was during the twelve months I was engaged to my wife. Women in laundromats, women in Arctic rescue expeditions, women handcuffed in the backs of police cars, you name it, they were drawn to me like moths to a porchlight. You can’t tell me women don’t have a radar for men in commitment mode. They sense it immediately and THEY MUST HAVE IT.

8. “… eight, EIGHT, I forget what eight was for, but, nine, nine, NINE …”

9. I’ll never have a sidekick or a minion.
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Waiting for The End Of The World

John of Patmos, Book of Revelation, End Times, James, Pater, Paul, Jesus

Saint John on the Island of Patmos

 

 

The next time you’re feeling vexed about American voters’ inability to think clearly about energy dependence or global warming or just building a damned train tunnel from New Jersey to New York, remind yourself that 22% of Americans believe the world will end during their lifetimes. It’s hard to get people to participate in long-range planning when they’ve got their suitcases packed for the Rapture.

Everyone wants to live in interesting times, I suppose. No one wants to die for nothing, just like the other guy. Prophesizing the end of the world is good business and it always has been, whether you’re selling papal indulgences, Mayan crystals or King James Bibles. It was good for Adventist founder William Miller in the 1840s and it sells books to this day for Hal Lindsey. Lately, Glenn Beck has gotten into the apocalypse business and radio evangelist Harold Camping and his family are said to have made millions promulgating the End Times.

Lately I’ve been reading Elaine Pagels’ “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics In The Book Of Revelation.” The Book of Revelation is the exciting book at the end of the New Testament with the breaking of the seven seals, the whore of Babylon, the Four Horsemen, the beast with ten horns and seven heads, exploding volcanoes, and that 666 number of the beast. The whole apocalypse blow-by-blow calendar of events. It was written by a Jewish militant and follower of Christ exiled to the island of Patmos (off the coast of what is now Turkey) by the Romans in C.E. 90. John of Patmos was one of many Jews of that era radicalized and embittered by the slaughter of thousands of Jews and the destruction of the Great Temple at Jerusalem by the Roman army in C.E. 70.
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The Slippery Slope of Life: A Handy Clip n’ Save Timeline

 

Hourglass, mortality, old age, time, memory

“This isn’t flying. It’s falling with style.”

                                          –Buzz Lightyear

 

Age 21: Look at you! You’re an adult. Congratulations, you’re on the clock.

Age 22: “I just ousted @TipsyTina69 as mayor of Purple Gator Bar & Grill on @foursquare!”

Age 23: A song/poem/story/painting/playlist you created no longer functions as an acceptable gift for your girlfriend.

Age 24: “This is just a temporary thing, until I figure out what I really want to do with my life.”

Age 25: Missing a day’s work because you went out with your friends and got shitfaced stops being funny.

Age 26: Vacation destinations you can cross off your list: Cancun, Amsterdam, any trip or tour that involves a backpack.

Age 27: Things you can no longer have in your apartment, even in an ironic sense: A futon that you sleep on. Mismatched dishes. A roommate.

Age 28: You will never again walk into a bar and pick up a chick based solely and entirely on how hot you are. Also over: any drink served in a vial, test tube or girl’s navel.

Age 29: That temporary thing you were doing, while keeping your options open? It’s your thing now. The window for a radical career change is closed, unless you’re going to do something weird like become a hospice attendant or a Sea Org Scientologist.

Age 30: The first two items you’ve crossed off your “Essential Qualities in a Perfect Husband” are: A) Has a full head of hair and B) Has a nice car.

Age 31: Dude, put your shirt back on.
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8 Things I’ll Be Doing Less Often In My 50s

 

There’s nothing like writing a blog to compress the timeline of your life. I see my birthday has come round again. Forty-nine. One last year of being far too young for the AARP. One last year to wrap up whatever it was I was doing in my 40s. Herewith, a short list of things I was doing in my 40s that I won’t be doing as much in my 50s.

Reading bad books. When I was younger, I was a relentless finisher of books. If I started something, I finished it, damn it, no matter how perplexing/boring/off-putting it was. In 1976, when I was 14, I picked up a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow from the paperback rack at the local Jamesway and I read all 800 pages of that fucker without comprehending a single word. Same with The Tin Drum. And Giles Goat Boy. The Golden Notebook. I could go on. Man, I don’t do that shit anymore. If a book is clearly going nowhere, a red flag goes up in my head at about page 100. At page 200, I’m entering Disengagement Mode. And that’s it. Life is too short for bad books. I should say here that I’m completely immune to most genre books, YA titles (ever notice how all of our parents weren’t reading the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew when we were kids?), and any book where the author’s name is bigger than the title. I’m also just as likely to be re-reading a book I enjoyed twenty years ago as I am to be reading anything new.

Going to any club or establishment that has hourly drink specials. Op. cit.: Too Old For The Club.
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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

It’s been so long since I’ve listened to radio that most of the preset buttons on my car radio are set to rock stations that no longer exist. Lately, though, I’ve been revisiting the airwaves, listening to 94.7 FM Family Radio on the way home from my sunset runs along the Jersey shore.

 

More often than not, the sound I hear when I tune in is that of pages being turned. The page turner is 89-year-old Harold Camping and he’s seeking out a Bible verse cited by a caller to Camping’s nightly call-in show, “Open Forum.” Each caller is allowed one question about a verse in the Bible, which Camping answers in a dry, dignified, unhurried monotone. When his answer is concluded, Camping says “Thank you for your call to Open Forum,” and another caller comes on the line.

 
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The End of the Literary Marketplace

When I was in my late teens and twenties, the record stores I shopped in were packed with people just like me. We’d all be shoulder to shoulder at the record bins, flipping through vinyl, occasionally plucking out a potential purchase while smirking at the hopelessly uncool selections of those around us. Later, in the ’90s, as I entered my thirties, I never really stopped buying records (though they were CDs by then) and I would often notice that I was the oldest shopper in whatever store I was in. I was a man among kids.

Skip forward again, as I closed in on my forties, and a funny thing happened. The kids disappeared. It didn’t happen gradually. One day they were clogging the music store aisles, clutching their Smashmouth and Offspring CDs, and the next day they were gone. Today, there are three record stores within a day’s drive of my house (Princeton, Red Bank, and Fords, NJ) and when I go to any of them, I know who I’ll find there before I enter the door. People just like me. Fortyish guys, fiftyish guys. Record collectors. Old music geeks who never gave up the habit. Once again, some thirty years later, I have only my own contemporaries for company.
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The End of the Age of Oil

Am I one of the last people to get around to watching that Al Gore film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth?’ It’s been out for a while, I know, but I just didn’t get to it until now. I have to say, I enjoyed it immensely.

Al’s film (directed by Davis Guggenheim), is entertaining as heck, although, regrettably, it’s been transformed into laugh-a-minute time capsule material, a fairy tale about the all-importance of preventing global warming and saving the environment, paper-airplaned to us direct from the far-off care-free era of 2006.

I say this despite the fact that I live at the Jersey Shore, close enough to the sea that a mere two meter rise in sea levels (considerably less than those estimates cited in ‘An Inconvenient Truth’) would have the surf rolling through marshy Belford, across US Route 36, and right up to my doorstep. So much for my property value.
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