Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

April 20, 2014

Garret Leiva: 44 is the new 24, right?

Forty-four years ago this week the gift of birth was swiftly followed by a gloved-hand slap across my backside.

My folks shed parental tears of joy. After all, my teenage angst was years away. I came into my birthday kicking, screaming and red-faced.

Today, I’m just trying to keep the happy in front of my birthday. I’ll leave the kicking and screaming for when I turn 50.

It’s easy to lament lost youth and the inevitability of middle age.

Well-meaning friends (and a few wicked ones) send birthday cards with punch lines about waistlines, hairlines or Viagra online. They remind me I’m no longer pushing 40 – it already ran me over.

Bumper-sticker mantras say, “44 is the new 24.”

Age is just a number; although political polls, arm-wresting contests and ad marketing think tanks say otherwise.

I now circle the 44-49 demographic on warranty registration cards.

Man, I must be getting old. I’m worried about the life expectancy of a toaster.

Numbers don’t lie. I’ve gone from the disposable income crowd to a new category – dad with wallet.

Parent chauffeur epitomizes mid-40s life. I shuttle our 12-year-old to school, piano lessons, basketball practice and countless all-girl tween sleepovers.

I should install a taxi meter in my Jeep. Our daughter could pay for her first year of college on the back-and-forth trips.

The chance to drive around my offspring is domesticated bliss. I feel absolutely no twinge of male insecurity — the kind that leads to a night of liquid courage and waking up with a Yosemite Sam tattoo.

I might save that bit of screaming for my big 5-0.

My wife always asks what I would like for my birthday. My pat answer since 1994 is the equivalent of a shoulder shrug.

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