On Life

It’s Your Birthday. You’re only mildly old. Can you read the bottom line?

MeThe morning went something like this.

You got up early to be at the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)  by 8:30 a.m. to have your license, which expires tomorrow (on your birthday) renewed. You waited until the last minute to get it done. There were too many other things to do this week, like drive your kid to golf many times and take your daughter to the movies. You’ve been writing all week–not Baseball Girl–but the textbook you’re working on with your brilliant colleagues. Nevertheless, you left it to the last minute, as you usually do, and thus suffered the consequences of waiting for almost an hour and a half until your number, B29, was called.

After filling out the necessary paperwork and having your photograph snapped for your new license (which, by the way, is not as flattering a photo as you had taken six years ago, but oh well, you’re never carded and the cops haven’t exactly needed to see it for any reason), the processor begins the line of questioning.

“Ok, Stephanie, now if you could press your forehead to the paper and tell me lines you can read.”

Of course, you could see the top line, the second line, the third line, but the fourth line, well, let’s just say you may have needed a magnifying glass. The one Barney would use.

“You want me to read the fourth line?” you said.

“Yes, if you can,” he said.

“Wow. A real challenge at this hour and it has nothing to do with kick-boxing or running.”

“Can you read the line?”

“Um…”

“Just give it a try.”

You must have done okay, because after you attempted to read it, he said, “Not too bad.”

But then, the worst scenario presented itself. He changed the slide, and now there were three columns in front of you. You could clearly read the first column, you could clearly read the second column, but…

“Can you please read what’s in the third column?” he asked.

“Are you telling me there are letters in the third column?”

“Yes,” he said. “All the way down.”

Your eyes couldn’t see it. There was nothing in the third column. It just looked blank. It was clearly a moment to think, but not say out loud, WTF? Seriously?

“Come on,” he said, trying not to run out of patience. “Give it your best shot.”

You squinted one eye to see if you could see any text at all in the third column. Faintly, something appeared. You gave it your best shot.

He waited.

“Okay, well,” he began. “You wear bifocals, right? And you always wear your contacts when you’re driving right?”

“Of course!” you said. It was the truth. You would never drive a vehicle without your contacts or your glasses. Which now, unfortunately, are bi-focal progressive lenses. Raise your eyes up when wearing the glasses for distance; lower your eyes for reading.

For a moment, you feared he wouldn’t grant you a new license on account of the vacant third column.

But he smiled.

“I put a restriction on there, but you’re good to go. Have a nice day,” he said smiling.

As if that weren’t enough…to be concerned that you couldn’t see…your son had to make two memorable comments.

“So, are you looking forward to your birthday tomorrow?” he asked.

“No. Not at all,” you said. “I’m old.”

“Aw, Mom, you’re not old. You’re only mildly old.”

Ouch. Mildly old. Good Lord. Has it come to that already? But I’m still young!!!!

Not really. You can feel young, but numbers don’t lie.

Then, as he kissed you goodnight, he blessed you with another zinger.

“Goodnight, Mom. Do you realize in six years you can live in GG & Pop-Pop’s community?”

Your mouth went agape. It’s an over-55 community, and the realization hit.

It’s your last year in your forties. Better make it a good one. Better be wild and forty-something-fantastic and do things before you turn 50 and people say you’ve lost your marbles.

Or maybe you’ll slip on the marbles because you simply can’t see them.

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