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30 something or another
almost too tired to rage against the dying of…anything
by michael d. driscoll

The roaring twenties are dead to me. Phpt.

It’s clear to me I no longer think like a 20-something floating from party to party or from job to job. I’ve entered the beginning stages of “thinking ahead” and finding comfortable shoes, cushy couches and good returns on a savings plan. Stability, once laughed at for its merits, now seems to be the new mantra where frivolity once reigned.

I give you exhibits A-F.

Exhibit A: I almost bought a home.
Years ago a friend of mine in New York called to tell me she wanted a baby to come out of her body and into her life. Without a boyfriend or husband on the horizon, she came to this realization during a staff meeting at the corporate offices of NickOnline where she worked. Without warning, Father Time hit her in the ovaries.

I had a similar, less vulvar-ific, experience one afternoon while driving through the streets of Atlanta. Here, Mother Mortgage, not Father Time, tapped me on the shoulder and I couldn’t avoid the urge to buy. Naturally, I had the right song in my car for the occasion and slipped in Dido’s Life for Rent CD. After the sixth listen to track 3 I knew I had found my momentary anthem. “If my life is for rent and I don’t learn to buy, I deserve nothing more than I get.” Amid her pain of success and millions of dollars in profits, Dido knew what I was going through.

Shortly thereafter I was standing in a high-rise loftaminium looking out at the skyline of Atlanta listening to a real estate agent spew about escrow, seller’s agreements and other odd fees associated with home ownership.

It was there that I looked into the wall of windows overlooking the busy street below and expected to be mesmerized by the view. Instead, I was mesmerized by the reflection. There was a future homeowner staring back at me, so I shut the curtains.

Exhibit B: Retirement is a four letter word.
The retirement plan I chose for my winter years is called the “2030 Plan.” This particular arrangement is set up for individuals who plan to retire in or around the year 2030. Clever. Should I need a solar powered pace-maker or a hydroelectric powered robotic nursemaid to sponge bathe me (it could happen), the 2030 plan may just cover my expenses. Or will it? I now worry.

Retirement used to be a long time coming, but now it seems closer than ever (which is especially true when I hear baby-boomers say “it goes by so fast, you know? It goes by…so fast.”). Stick a can of Prince Albert in it. So what if it goes by…so fast. I’m not ready to pay someone to clean my youknowwhat because I can still get it for free.

Exhibit C: I didn’t buy the fabulous trash can.
Every home needs something unusual, a conversation piece or a “wow-worthy” piece that everyone can comment on. For example, you may be a Faberge egg person. When guests see one in your home they ask “Is it Faberge?” To which you reply, “Of course it is. We bought in on our last trip to Prague. It’s the only one of its kind.” Or you may have a piece of artwork that prompts an awkward moment where guests tilt their head to the right, then to the left and say, “Oh, I see. It’s a duck’s bottom. Very now!”

For me, I just wanted a spiffy trash can. Trash is nasty and since we can’t remove it from our lives we might as well dress it up and put it where guests can see it. Reluctantly, I opted for the white, plastic Container Store bargain trash can, which proves I’m no longer willing to spend money on frivolous items.

Why you ask? Because, I’m saving for a home and my retirement. Duh.

Exhibit D: I want a job that helps people.
Wanting to help people in and of itself is not a generic sign of a geriatric lifestyle. After 10 years of climbing the corporate ladder, sliding down the rungs of success a few times and returning to a trajectory to the top is what the twenties are all about. We take jobs that do not create jobs. We align ourselves with career moves instead of human needs. Yet, there are those of us who are lucky to be in a position where our jobs directly impact the lives of others. Good for you. Now go create a fulfilling job for me. I’ll be taking a nap.

Exhibit E: Benign Prostate Hyperplasia.
My last visit to the doctor proved that even if others don’t see me as over 40, doctors are already telling 30-somethings about 40-something problems. Isn’t that something?

According to Dr. Proactive, in 2000 there were over 4.5 million visits to doctors for BPH. This means that 4.5 million men went to see their doctor complaining of a hesitant, interrupted urine stream, urgency, leaking or dribbling, or more frequent urination at night. Not even if I’m drunk, naked and have my hand in a bowl of warm water (camp trick to get bunkmates to pee in their sleep) will I leak or dribble. And if I get up in the middle of the night to urinate, it’s not because my prostate is failing me at 31.

BPH is when the prostate swells and isn’t cancerous. Oh what fun we guys have to look forward to when we’re older. I’ll trade hot flashes for a swelled-up gland any day.

Exhibit F: Four eyes only for me.
Remember when wearing non-prescription eye glasses meant we were either cool or a poser? For me it was practice.

I noticed one day at work my computer screen was blurry. Failing to recognize that it could be my eyes, I adjusted the monitor six or seven times to no avail. After a month of this, I realized it had to be the computer and requested a new one.

When the new computer arrived, carrying with it the same problem as its hazy predecessor, I did what any smart person would do. I called the Help Desk.

Once connected I basked in the warmth that is off-shore outsourcing and had an East Indian woman named “Kristy Smith” ask me, after countless monitor adjustments, if I wore contacts or glasses. Stunned that she would ask me something so personal without first obtaining my equipment number, I reluctantly answer “no” and thanked Kristy for her time. Moments later I received an email that my request ticket had been closed citing “User needs glasses” as the solution.

Yes, through the miracles of modern technology, and a bad domestic policy, my failing eyesight has now gone global. So I called again and asked for a second opinion. Later in the day I figured that if my technical support desk could diagnose my vision problems, I should at least ask about their major medical benefits. So I called again.

I was referred to psychiatry in Belgium.

I don’t mean to drag on about how getting older is terrible. I look forward to the crow's feet, the jowls that make me look like a turkey and phalanges that no longer leave fingerprints, igniting a new career as a petty thief.

Getting older also tells me that I must learn to embrace the inevitability that one day I will be turning out the lights for economic rather than for romantic reasons, feeling shooting pains in my legs from playing Canasta until bed-time (8pm) and sitting for long hours in a rocking chair unable to get it started.


Curious about everything, Michael plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed to go where no one else has gone. His slight forgetfulness means he is curious about everything and plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed...

more about michael d. driscoll


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anya werner
7.28.04 @ 12:51a

But, just wanting a fabu trash can (instead of a car or a stereo) is a sign of being 30+. Then, denying yourself to save money for other things is really over the top... Wait, I understand these things all too well. What's my point? Just that I think it ought to be vulva-rific (move the hyphen)

sandra thompson
7.28.04 @ 7:10a

That was really informative as well as funny. As a 70-something, looking back at my long and somewhat eventful life, I must point out that they are right about it "going fast, very fast..." Before you know it you're gonna be taking a little something out of your IRA (or whatever it is you might have) instead of putting too little something into it. It's always too little. Always... and if you don't buy a residence you're just gonna have thrown all that rent money down a rathole and wind up with absolutely nothing to show for it. Harumph. Elderly advice section over and out.

tracey kelley
7.28.04 @ 10:22a

Man. "You people" crossing that HUGE abyss of 30 just crack me up.

michael driscoll
7.28.04 @ 10:26a

I'm sorry...could you speak up?

tracey kelley
7.28.04 @ 10:30a

I doubt it - I'm too drugged on Advil for my arthritic knee to speak clearly.

michael driscoll
7.28.04 @ 10:34a

And I get doody from people about my bemoaning of getting older. I realize I don't have one foot in the grave, but CHRIST, let me at least get used to the idea that things are changing at this age. Reaching 30 is a milestone on the great Gantt chart of life.

juli mccarthy
7.28.04 @ 10:40a

As someone a mere five months away from FORTY, I'd like to be sympathetic to your plight. But I'm not. The good news is that I've experienced a reversal of the process you describe here recently. I have the home, the retirement plans, contact lenses and hot flashes, and while it's nice to have security, I've begun to seek out groovy garbage cans and high heels again.

michael driscoll
7.28.04 @ 10:43a

No sympathy needed. I like getting older. Enjoy the garbage can!

tracey kelley
7.28.04 @ 12:11p

I was 32 before I realize I was getting "older" - it hit me pretty hard. Now I just don't care.

michael driscoll
7.28.04 @ 12:17p

Or you can't remember. Gosh, I miss my fairy godmother!

tracey kelley
7.28.04 @ 12:22p

I'm always here, honey.

heather millen
7.28.04 @ 12:29p

Man, Driscoll is hot... for an old guy.

I'm still at that age where I think an age older than I currently am sounds cosmopolitan. Go ahead, hate me.

ellen marsh
7.28.04 @ 12:57p

Another comment from the "older generation." Someday you'll look back at your 30s and 40s as the best years of your life. It's all a matter of perspective--depending on whether you are looking forward or backward. I too agree that the years fly with rocket speed as you grow older. Enjoy!

ellen marsh
7.28.04 @ 1:08p

Oh, one more thing. I'm with Sandra. Even if you have to mortgage your first born or sell your favorite high tech toys, buy a piece of property as soon as you can.

There are lots of programs to help first-time buyers. I know, because I took advantage of one way too late in life after having poured lots of my income down the rental rathole. And, don't forget the tax benefit you get from paying interest on a mortgage.

robert melos
7.28.04 @ 3:59p

Another drawback of aging is how much it hampers the process of finding a sugar daddy. Sugar daddies are supposed to be older than yourself, and at 41, I'm finding college aged people more attractive, yet they can't afford me, and are looking for their own sugar daddies. I'm not ready to be a sugar daddy. I can't afford it.

I still feel like I'm in my 20s, even now.

Remember the older you get, the older you get. By the way, I love the column.

roger striffler
8.2.04 @ 10:51a

It's so cute watching the pups go off on their own and explore their world... (grin).

I'm one of the older people in my circle of friends, and it's just amazing to me how many people are so upset about aging, and how much they worry about it when they're only a little on either side of 30. I guess I just find it strange because it's something that is out of your control; It's gonna happen, so why not just try to make the best of it?

michael driscoll
8.2.04 @ 11:30a

THIS is exactly my point. Let us "pups" go through this right of passage and get used to a new decade WITHOUT older people getting offended. The mature response would be "you'll do fine, I remember that time too!"

tracey kelley
8.3.04 @ 9:29a

Are you whining, Mikey? Stop that. Grow up already.

dan gonzalez
8.3.04 @ 10:44a

The mature response would be "you'll do fine, I remember that time too!"

Actually, the mature response would be 'Get over it, ya friggin' lightweight narcissist! Sack up and deal!'

Well, maybe mature is the wrong word. It's a response, though.

michael driscoll
8.3.04 @ 10:52a

I am over it. It's just an article, folks. Who should be getting over what about now?

mike julianelle
8.3.04 @ 11:33a

I love how everyone who's 40 supposedly doesn't care about people who whine about being thirty, except when they turned 30 they whined too. HYPOCRITES!

robert melos
8.3.04 @ 3:49p

I was pretty happy and content with 30. It was 25 that really pissed me off and made me miserable. 35 wasn't great either. I guess I don't do even years.

dan gonzalez
8.3.04 @ 9:26p

Who should be getting over what about now?

Ah, I was just fooling about. I liked the article, and all. ;-)

tracey kelley
8.3.04 @ 10:48p

Sheesh, everyone was so testy today, they can't see a joke when it's flat on the page. I've been told as one ages, humor is the first to go. (add multiple smilies here, for full effect and explanation, underscored and in bold, so there can be no misconception of joking intent.)

I think many people dislike getting older because of the map they had laid out for their lives. If, in retrospect, they discover the journey didn't exactly follow the charted course, there's a feeling of melancholy and regret topped with a spoonful of "what if."

Instead, the map just needs to be turned upside down, and a new course laid out.


tim lockwood
8.4.04 @ 11:50a

If there's one thing I've learned as a post-30s kind of guy (I'm 38), it is this: It is possible to plan your spontaneity well in advance.

And as Tracey noted, there is that tinge of regret over dreams left unfulfilled, but screw that. Once you come to terms with the fact that your time on earth really is shorter than you thought, you'll learn to manage your time a lot better and focus your energies on the things you really want to do, and dump all the extraneous stuff you do just to be nice to those who would gladly screw you out of those things if they knew you wanted them.

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