I never really thought much about my age before now. I know people are supposed to have a crisis every ten yeas or so when the front digit in their age switches over, but that never really happened for me. At 20, I was too busy trying to scam my way in to the Washington Tavern to pig out on 10-cent chicken wing night and drink pitchers of beer. I’m not sure quite what I was doing at 30 except it was 1999 and I think I was fretting about the Y2K bug and marveling at how people would throw money at anybody who had “Web consultant” on a business card. In fact, I’ve always thought of myself as a year older than I actually am — that way I could downplay my actual birthday in my mind when it came around.
This year was different somehow. My wife threw me a lovely BBQ in my backyard this year for my 40th birthday. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but then I’ve never been the kind of person to throw big, elaborate celebrations. It was just friends, family and lots of kids sitting around chatting, drinking beer and eating tacos and it made me incredibly happy. It also triggered one of the most unusual things that I’ve done in the last ten years — I declined a vicious political arguement.
Those who know me know how unusual this is. I’m always the “right-wing guy” at the Hollywood party who’s under seige by a group of California liberals staring in awe at a troglodyte who somehow broke into their enclave. The fact that I’m only “Right-wing” in comparison to them never seems to register. In Texas I’d be the “pinko-Commie-librul.” For my part, I’m always happy to engage in spirited political debate. Heck, I grew up surrounded by the New York Jewish culture where arguing was just what you did for fun. I never take offense at anything anybody says in defense of their beliefs and I’m always stunned when people take offense at mine.
Sure enough, at least two people at the party tried to engage me and for once in my life I just decided it wasn’t worth it. Maybe after 10 years the laid-back California attitude has finally started rubbing off but the truth is that I’m starting to wonder what all those political arguments ever did for me — or those I argued with. I have at least one old friend who got so upset with our diverging political philosophies that we haven’t discussed politics since. Indeed we haven’t discussed much of anything (though that’s as much a function of distance as anything else) for a long time.
I’m not sure what spurred this — maybe it’s a function of my age, my health scare this year, my employment situation but whatever it was, I’m no longer quite so passionate about pushing my point of view on the “unenlightened.” At least not at social events. For me, for at least one night, it was just enough to hang out with people who care about me and be grateful for their presence in my life. We’ll see how long this attitude lasts.