NOTE: Either I'm feeling nostalgic, or just frazzled from dealing with a sick kid all evening, but I've decided to run my first ever paid piece. The following appeared in the Connecticut Post back in 2005, and started my three year relationship with the paper as a columnist. I was paid $75
PS - For historical (or perhaps hysterical) purposes, I'm forcing myself not to revise or edit the original, but I sooo want to!
“I’m growing older but not up
My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck
Let those winds of time blow over my head,
I’d rather die while I’m living then live while I’m dead!”
So go the lyrics to one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs – a song whose words I took to heart…and its message I took for granted – that I too would be able to grow old without growing up – your typical Peter Pan fantasy. I wanted to be the guy who could play and party like it was 1999 until I was 99. But lately it seems like the only Peter Pan I have left in me is the peanut butter I spread on my rice cakes at lunch.
So what happened to me? Besides the rice cakes that is! How did I get to be (and feel) so old? Instead of Peter Pan, I turned into Cinderella…always heading home by midnight. It wasn’t too long ago when I didn’t even get started until well after twelve, heading out with my fellow waiters after a profitable shift at the restaurant. We would close the nearby bars, and then head back to ours for a few after-hours hours. Many a morning I would be heading home while joggers and newspaper deliverers went about their pre-dawn professions. Now I’m coming in at a time I used to be going out…and getting up around the time I used to be coming home. And I’m not too happy about it.
I’m sure it’s partly out of pride, my wanting to prove I can still hang with the big dogs, rather than a desire to just party all night – because I can honestly say I am no longer interested in pulling all-nighters or heading for the casinos (or Port Chester) after last call, but there are times when I would just like to be able to stay out late. Say a band I like is playing, but they don’t come on until 10 (which means more like 11:30) it’s no longer a given that I’ll be there, even if it’s a Friday! I’ll set out with the best intentions, but halfway through the first set I start thinking about how hard it will be to function in the morning, and by the time the band takes a break, I’m thinking how nice it would be to be in bed, and before the first encore I’m heading for the door.
And it’s not like I can claim (or blame) responsibility. I know parental and fiscal responsibilities are two major reasons why people my age start acting their age, but I can’t blame my lameness on either of them. My step-daughter spends most weekends with her father, so there is no need to rush home to pay a sitter, so as far as she goes, I can stay out as late as I want. As for the money, while there is never a lot, there is usually enough, and I have never had a problem parting with what little I had in exchange for a good time. So there goes that excuse.
Another possibility to consider is that now that I have found the right girl (and married her) there is not much of an incentive to go out, since I am no longer looking to meet anyone. The problem with this theory is that even when I was looking for someone, I wasn’t looking for them in bars. Yet I still went out…a lot!
So what’s left? Health concerns? Well, thanks to some new state laws, cigarettes are no longer allowed in bars, so that excuse just went up in smoke. And courtesy of carb conscious consumers, many of the beers on the market have the calorie equivalent of a carrot, so I can’t blame diet. Finally, alcoholism doesn’t run in my family (it may walk, sometimes stumble…but never runs) so there goes that idea.
Which leaves me with…me! Can it be that I grew up? Am I officially an adult? Let’s see: I got the wife, the kid, the house, the bills. The grays, the gut, the aches, the wrinkles. Spare batteries for the smoke detectors, power tools for fixing things (and the books to show me how), and a fireproof box for important documents. Sounds pretty mature so far…but…I don’t have a will, or a 401k (or even a clue as to what one is) or a savings account. I still have all of my hair (along with a few extras) and most of my stolen pint glasses and some of my Smurfs! And last time I checked, adults weren’t riding inflatable chairs down snow-covered hills or flinging cold cuts against walls to see if they stuck. So maybe I’m somewhere in the middle – young enough to want to, but old enough to know better.
Or it could be that I’m just tired. It’s hard to be Peter Pan when you’re all petered out.