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Read with sadness or glee, depending on what you think of me
I honestly never expected to write this column. Years ago I had made arrangements to make sure I would be unavailable.
However, you can’t trust others – especially others from your ole college days.
On Tuesday, you see, I turned 40. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way, or any way for that matter.
Follow along for a story of someone else’s non-compliance that has allowed me to continue. You can read this either with sadness or with glee. That really depends on what you think of me.
When I was younger and seemingly freer, I got my post-secondary education just down the road from where I am typing this piece. Georgia Southern would be the locale I formed a verbal pact with a college friend who will remain nameless to protect the guilty. At this moment, he is guilty for not fulfilling his responsibility.
My pact wasn’t like one between convenience store owners not to undercut their in-town competitors on higher-than-average gasoline prices. Nope, my pact was one of finality, not a painful lingering kind of death where you continually lose an extra dollar at the pump every time you fill your tank.
Since I do have at least five or six faithful readers under the ages of 5 or 6, I will not use the four-letter word for what originally was meant for me on or before my birthday reared its incredibly ugly head. With that, I will speak in “code.” The word sounds a lot like “bomb,” but I have not received any special “for my eyes only” package within the last few days because of my college buddy’s slackatudity (a new word I have introduced into the vernacular – use it now, use it often).
Bummer. I haven’t really made many plans for the future. I didn’t see much need in it.
Now for my friends with postal services, take a deep breath and ever-so slowly remove your finger from that federal government speed dial button which triggers tugboat-sounding alarms from President Obama’s cloak room down to Capitol Hill custodians’ mini buzzers.
The boom-boom wasn’t going through the mail or another certified package carrier. Let’s just say a designated delivery person was part of our master plan.
Again only a chosen few were pulled into this circle of knowledge. It was a tighter knit group than who knew who kept the name of “Deep Throat” hush hush.
But as any football coach worth his weight in at least a deflated ball and a crusty used chinstrap would know, all the strategizing in the world means bupkis if players don’t execute on game day. Well when I broke the huddle, coach I knew I was going deep on a pass pattern for the bomb, but it seems my quarterback couldn’t pull the trigger. My now non-existent package sender must have been blindsided by defensive lineman with jersey number 86 – as in the term “86” to purge from your list of responsibilities.
Now some of you reading all of this may find it quite morbid, some disturbing, and probably some hoping the package was just delayed. No matter which avenue your mind has taken, I understand.
My spouse seems to have come to terms with the whole potential bomb thing. Being the creative person she is, my wife orchestrated a small gathering Sunday to witness the “Grim Reaper” present me with a box which included a very realistic-looking bomb equipped with a highly functional clock that can be utilized – if not by me – by somebody.
Let me fill you in on how this all happened. When I was a college student, the age of 40 seemed, well, like an eternity away as I was in my early 20s.
And then there were the other factors.
Have you ever seen a list of the top 50 under 50? Of course not! It doesn’t exist. That is because it is always the top 30 under 30 or the top 40 under 40? Simply put when you hit the big 4-0 in the business world, you are not old, but you are slamming face-first into the wall known as “Extremely Mature.” Yikes!
It is possible that my favorite all-time writer, “The Father of the Short Story,” Edgar Allan Poe had the right concept. He was found dying in a gutter at the age of 40. His life would moments later conclude in a nearby hospital. Although his medical records have mysteriously disappeared, I am rather sure Edgar being very much tanked at the time played a key role in his demise. He visited the bottle like a fish hangs out in water – all the time.
Exactly one week before my birthday, Kristi Yamaguchi, the lovely lady who captivated our hearts with her phenomenal ice skating, turned 40. However, nobody is going to walk up to Kristi, tap her on her shoulder and say “Kristi, have you gotten your Medicare card yet?” She is way too glamorous for that. Me? Well, newspaper editors definitely are a different breed. We are more malodorous than glamorous.
So since “Plan A” with the package seems to have fizzled, I have a “Plan B.” Children, if you are still reading, remember to always have an alternate scheme.
I have shaved off my goatee in an attempt to hold onto my last flicker of youthfulness. Nobody in Screven County has seen me without the facial fur. Actually, none of my four children – the oldest being 12 – have ever witnessed a completely clean-shaven me. I have two hypothesizes on this strategy – No. 1: My kids will put out an APB on their father with the local law enforcement; and No. 2: I will feel cooler as our current temps reach triple digits, but my lips assuredly will shiver more during our brisk winters.
For what it is worth, that’s my formula for gingerly easing into my fourth decade on this planet. My well-planned course of action Tuesday morning, however, didn’t start out too well. My wife took one look at the new me and said, “You look older.” Sigh.
So here’s to my next 40 years or whatever I have left. I’ll let the big man upstairs determine that for me.
Sorry, but you will have to excuse me, I’ve got to go. I think someone with a package just rang my doorbell.
See you later … or maybe I should side instead with Poe’s “Raven” of “Nevermore.”
Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.