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Is it Really Only a Number?
In New Hampshire

On awakening that morning, as if struck by lightening, I realized I had turned sixty. Dreading its arrival, I had spent weeks preparing myself for the event but at that moment moving into the next decade of my life seemed to be having less of an impact than I had expected.

I had taken two days off from work, so I could hide away from my friends and co-workers, while I supposedly morphed into a grandmotherly figure. The truth of the matter was that nothing had really changed overnight as I had imagined it would. The birthday cards I left by my bed the night before were still as funny when read a second time around, so it seemed that my sense of humor was still intact. Upon stretching, I noted sadly that my shape, already changed by age, was still ten pounds heavier than I would have preferred. My bed however was still a perfect fit.

The phone rang and my seventeen year-old daughter called to "wish my Mum a happy birthday" and told me how loved I was and how she thought "you don't look or act a day over forty!" It was a heartwarming sentiment, as I recalled that my first date with her father had been on my fortieth birthday. We parted only days before my fiftieth.

The night before the "dreaded event," as I was downing a glass of extravagantly expensive champagne, accompanied by a piece of smoked salmon (the repast I had chosen especially for my solitary birthday eve), two friends "stormed the Bastille" or to put in simpler terms, barged through my kitchen door. Armed with plates of hors d'oeuvres, they expostulated loudly over my choice of spending the evening alone and then deposited a large bottle of vodka on my kitchen table.

Assuring me that they would not leave until I allowed them to mix me a drink, they did so and then showered me with gifts. The sounds of "Rod Stewart's Oldies Album" drowned out their admonishments at my upset over reaching what is apparently the average age for a whale.

Later that evening, long after they had left, the echoes of their laughter still resounded in my kitchen and my fifties ended.

Turning sixty became a somewhat cathartic experience. I learned that one's good buddies can always be relied on whatever the crisis and that the things one fears the most can often turn out to he unexpected pleasures. I also learned that the best cure-all for the sixtieth birthday blues could he as simple as a good joke, the company of friends, and a large vodka tonic!

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