Rick's Space

The Birthday Boy

I don’t pay much attention to my birthday. Some people I know demand a major production, relishing the fact they are the center of attention. Me? I’m under the belief birthdays are nothing to celebrate. Let’s face it; every day is another day closer to death.

Though I’ve convinced myself I don’t need the attention a birthday brings, most people who have the displeasure of knowing me long ago concluded I’m such a freaking baby I demand to be the center of attention every day, and thus they have nothing left to give when my Special Day finally does arrive.

I’m not going to try and stave off age. I would never dream of coloring my hair, for example, thinking if it does turn grayer I might finally be considered distinguished-looking and gain a small modicum of respect from my lawless staffers at the newspaper who usually ignore me.

Nor would I ever have my face lifted. The way I figure it, the sags cover the acne, and that’s a good thing. I would never get a tummy tuck, because then none of my pants or belts would fit and I’d have to get new stuff. Besides, I’d have to clean the lint out of my belly button.

Speaking of my wardrobe, it had drawn criticism from a lot of circles. I do the hippie/jock/1967 Catholic high school look. Lots of T-shirts, Nike sneakers, corduroy suit jackets. I still have tie dyes, but I don’t wear them. The truth is, I look silly. I look like a grotesque lump of lime green and orange and I scare children.

The bad thing about being good-looking is people invariably say, “[He or she] has gotten so old!” That’s why movie stars struggle so to keep their looks — it’s more than vanity, it’s their job to look attractive.

When you’re a slug like me, it’s pointless to get a nip or a tuck because no one is going to notice or care.

When you reach a certain age, you begin to have doubts. “Am I becoming irrelevant?” I asked one of my buddies. “You were never relevant,” he replied. Oh.

As we age, the old adage “all things in moderation” becomes useful. I’ve learned to take it easy on my body.

For example, I’ve had to adjust my intake of alcohol. I’m not even allowed to drink at work anymore. What’s with that?

As we get older, we have to watch what we eat. During football games, for example, I usually have a bowl of chips, some nachos, pretzels, and crudités. This year, the crudités goes.

I’ve cut down on red meat and fried chicken and try to eat more bacon and sausage.

Exercise is essential. When watching television, I try to lift each leg off the floor and onto the couch, and then down again later when I have to go to the bathroom. I do this several times. I also enjoy taking a nice stroll from the front door to my truck.

Salt can be a killer. DO NOT put salt on pretzels, potato chips, Cheez Doodles, or beef jerky. These items are already salted. Similarly, try not to add sugar to hot fudge, Three Musketeers, Krispy Kremes, or Devil Dogs. And don’t add sugar to soda . . . unless it is diet soda, in which case, pour a lot into the can.

No matter how healthy our lifestyle, as we age, parts of our bodies begin to shut down (like in my case, the bladder).

This is why God made drugs. When we were younger, we took recreational drugs, harmless stuff to help us enjoy music and the camaraderie of others. They included PCP, MDMA, acid, and cocaine. Nowadays, we’re too mature to enjoy those silly diversions.

I don’t want to say we tend to get selfish as we get older, but let’s just say we get set in our ways. Avoid this! Reach out to your loved ones. I’m going to try to spend more time with my dog, ummmm Duke I think it is, or whatshisface, something like that.

As we get older, we have time to enjoy more leisure pursuits, wholesome activities to while away the hours.

Toward that end, I’ve taken up an exciting new hobby, dreaming! I’m really good at it, but that’s because I practice a lot, especially at work.

Well that’s it from the Birthday Boy. Just remember what the great Jackie Gleason said on his 50th birthday: “The 50-yard line is still the best place to watch a football game.”

He died a few years later.

Rick Murphy is a six-time winner of the New York Press Association Best Column award as well as the winner of first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Suburban Newspaper Association of America and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.