It was my birthday this week and I turned the grand old age of 31.
A fact that I’m completely OK with.
However, I have noticed a strange pattern in the last couple of years whenever my birthday has rolled around. In my late teens and mid twenties, I’d get a simple birthday wish like, “Happy Birthday Paul. Have a good one!” Or at worst, a weird too-specific jokey comment from Steve from accounts, “Don’t get too drunk and end up in the local newspaper and then spend the next 6 months living in a bed sit while fighting for access to your kids!”
OK Steve. Thanks Steve. Please stop crying Steve.
Now however, I get a look. A widening of the eyes followed by a tongue in cheek comment about the fact that I’m ‘getting on.’ A birthday wish wrapped up in words that essentially are telling me that my best years are behind me.
Firstly, 31 isn’t old. I could literally drink beer, play PlayStation and nap for the next decade and still have half my life left. A plan that sounds very appealing.
Secondly, anyone who knows me knows I’m just hitting my prime.
This wasn’t a vehicle built for youth – it was a vehicle built for Worthers Originals and erectile dysfunction.
You see, I’ve always thought that youth was overrated. Or certainly the things you’re meant to enjoy as a young person. I mean, I took part in the drinking and the dancing that I was conditioned to enjoy, but I never felt comfortable. It was never me.
My experience of clubbing was completely different to most people. The people who genuinely enjoyed this type of thing would be lost in the moment in the middle of the dancefloor surrounded by people who similarly would rather be there than anywhere else. Me and my friends were there out of expectation. Our nights consisted of us just looking awkward in polo shirts before one of us was brave enough to say those magic words, “Want me to phone a taxi?”
You have to remember, when I was going out on a regular basis, I was 5’4, and had braces. I was still riding the wave of winning the coveted Brookfield High School GCSE History award. These people wanted to dance off their tits and take drugs. They were certainly not impressed by my knowledge of the Treaty of Versailles. And boy did I try.
In fact, me and my friends were so we largely unimpressed by all of this that we avoided the bright lights of town and the exuberance of youth by going to our local ‘old mans pub.’ Nothing weird about that you might say? Well OK, brace yourself for my next sentence. As a 19 year old, me and my friends sat religiously for about 4 years with a group of men in their seventies while they played songs with a spoon and an ash tray. While my peers were out living life, I was sat next to a man who stunk of urine and regret while he played Buddy Holly tracks with cutlery. And yes, I am fully aware how tragic this sounds.
In a totally irrelevant and completely unrelated matter, you’ll be surprised to hear that I lost my virginity quite late.
One of our first ‘lads holiday’ was a disaster as well. It was our second night in Magaluf and we had decided to go to a foam party at the world famous BCM nightclub. It was packed with young muscly types in vests. I on the other hand weighed about 7 stone and hadn’t yet been introduced to contact lenses. This became quite the issue when I began to ‘dance’ and make my way to the foam covered dance floor. You see I’d never been to a foam party before and didn’t realise that my glasses would steam up. And steam up they did.
It was half way through some track by Pitbull that I realised I was in trouble. My vision was gone and instead of being in the moment and dancing with other young people, I suddenly found myself grabbing wildly at air while screaming, “I need help! Will someone help me?!”
In classic fashion I began to panic and instead of making my way off the dance floor, I blindly walked towards where the foam was emptying. And it emptied right into my face. I was now blind and struggling to breath. This was how I was going to die. Panting uncontrollably to Pitbull.
I don’t know how I managed to get out of that predicament but when my friends found me I had lost a flip flop and my glasses were bent. What a night.
Nowadays my girlfriend will often ask me what I want to do at the weekend and I’m genuinely surprised that she hasn’t called anyone out to see if I’m possessed by a 54 year old librarian named Derek. I’m currently on a three year streak of answering, “I don’t know. Watch a documentary, read a couple of chapters and then fall asleep in front of the telly?”
I’m close to starting a GoFundMe page to raise funds so she can start a new life.
One of my favourite things to do as a 31 year old man is to potter. I love the days where I just aimlessly wander around the house like a man in control of his nothingness.
I would retire tomorrow if I could.
Recently, I’ve even found myself getting increasingly jealous at pensioners who spend their days gardening and attending book clubs. In fact, I’m so jealous, I’ve stopped giving up my seat to them on public transport. Norma can fuck off if she can’t stand for 20 minutes on her way to do WHATEVER SHE WANTS TO DO.
I mean the only downside to getting older is the fact that I’m edging closer on a daily basis to the death of my parents. But I’d rather be an elderly orphan playing bowls than downing shots at a rave with my whole life ahead of me.
On that upbeat note – I’ll see you at 32.