This Sunday I will turn 40! FORTY! The big four-oh, over the hill and so on. My husband is six months and five days younger than I am so he likes to say this milestone will make me an official cougar. I disagree. Strongly! I don’t know what 40 is supposed to feel like but I am fine with this number. After all, Jennifer Aniston is 46. Seriously. Did you see her body in “We’re The Millers”? If not, stop reading and Google it now. There you go. Now, do you see why I am cool with this? And on top of that, Angelina Jolie turned 40 back in May and is 72 days older than I am. For whatever catty and bitchy reason, this makes me enormously happy.
What doesn’t make me enjoy this birthday is the way people react when they hear my age. I had one particular encounter the other day that pissed me off to no end, and they are all along the same lines. While I was getting my nails done with my mother we, of course, had to be seated near the “annoying, in your business” fellow customer who thinks it is perfectly acceptable to join your conversation (you know you know her) and she immediately took on my age as her pet charity. It went like this:
Mom: Did you have fun at your early birthday party?
Girl who had no business in our conversation (known from here forward as ‘LAME GIRL”): It’s your birthday? My birthday was in February. I turned 28.
Me: **Condescending smile, intended to imply that I wanted her to shut the eff up and exit from our conversation.**
LAME GIRL: How old are you?
Me: I’ll be 40 on Sunday.
LAME GIRL: SHUT UP! No. No you will not.
Me: It’s true.
LAME GIRL: Well, don’t feel bad (as if I didn’t already want to take the white acrylic tips she was having crazy-glued to her nail beds and shove them up her nose, she now said “bad” instead of “badly.” Strike two.).
Me: I don’t feel badly.
LAME GIRL: I mean, I can’t believe it. Are you freaking out? I would freak out. Seriously, you don’t look 40.
Mom: (Trying to help) I thought 40 was a great age!
LAME GIRL: I mean, wow. You are not an old-looking 40. You like, look 30-something.
Me: Thank you.
I then processed to have a very in-depth conversation with my mother about what color I should use on my toenails in an attempt to end this madness. It worked.
So here is my question: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH TURNING 40? I get that there is some stupid, outdated stigma attached to the number. And people are trying to be nice. Saying you look younger than your age is a compliment, fine. But why go on and on about it? Because, really, everyone does. No one can say “you look great” and move on to a normal conversation about a truly topical subject like Ben Affleck’s nanny. They have to keep at it. It’s not like I said I lost my job or my dog has an ingrown toenail. Those are bad things. Turning 40 isn’t.
As soon as you tell the majority of humans that you are approaching 40 they immediately look to your 1. crow’s feet and 2. hair color (grey? heavily dyed? out of style haircut?) and then launch into the “woe is you rant.” It’s really maddening. How about, “Happy Birthday” and leave it at that. Or “enjoy the milestone!” Your response doesn’t have to be akin to your neighbor telling you her cousin was catfished by some creep on Tinder and lost all her money. Again, this is a good thing!
Like the theme of my birthday party said, “40 is the New F-Word” (take that any way you’d like). So let’s celebrate it, not dwell on it. Leprosy: bad. Forty: good.