This Black Table article was published, shit, six years ago and I'm encouraged by the fact that it is still as painful now as it was on March 18, 2004. Getting older is not fun. Make it stop.
I have no idea what happened to R.A. Miller — he was Will Leitch's first book publisher — but he was an extremely nice guy and it was very thoughtufl of him to write this. Incidentally he became the unofficial telegram writer for many people who turned 30, since this little birthday ballkick became viral back when "viral" consisted of JibJab videos and heavy metal kittens. For a while, if you typed "Turning 30" into Google, this essay accompanied by the horrifying photo of me trying to recreate Nick Nolte's mugshot would rank very high. A stranger even came up to me in a bar in NYC about four years ago and told me I looked exactly like the guy in the "Turning 30" email. Splendid.
Since the highlight of most birthdays from here on out for me is counting how many randos write "Happy B-Day!" on my Facebook wall, I figured I'd give this back to the internet universe since some people will probably appreciate it. It still holds up, even if certain parts read like stale Drew Magary and references Dell computers and OutKast.
Somebody we know told me you're turning 30 tomorrow. I'd congratulate you, but frankly, I don't have a goddamn nice thing to say about it. I do, however, take perverse delight in telling you what you can expect or should keep in mind:
1. Lest you forget, everyone you know will remind you that you indeed are fucking old. They're not just giving you a hard time. This in fact is true. You are old.
2. You are now officially too old to be characterized in the press and in critical circles as a "rising star" of avant garde journalism or cultural commentary. That plaudit is for young guys — guys in their 20s — whose genius is so precocious they actually develop a sphere of influence all to themselves. College co-eds — English majors and journalism students — secretly doodle in their journals about fellating those guys just to be close to the genius. They also make notes in their journals about how guys like you creep them out. They wonder why you're not married.
3. On the upside, you needn't be too concerned about those co-eds anymore. As you progress from 30 to 31 and on to 32, your desire to actually sleep with them will drop precipitously. The healthy post-college-aged guy you once were — cruising Manhattan any night of the week on booze-fueled sex junkets — is now the cautious, chronically tired guy of Rolaids commercials and NPR call-in shows. I would tell you this change happens gradually, that you still have 18 months of Wednesday night beer specials and post-2 a.m. bong hits with Kelly and Christina, but in fact you should start feeling the effects by Tuesday.
4. 401K. These four characters were nothing more than unique keys on your Dell yesterday. Tomorrow they will take on a daunting significance that clouds your creativity like charcoal-grey cumulonimbi threatening the Merry Retirement Trailer Community in western Pennsylvania. Overnight, financial desperation switches from sexy artist cachet to a mark of blandness and failure. Is it true you don't yet own a condo?
5. You're only 5 years away from your first prostrate exam. Let's get fired up!
6. Speaking of doctors, start scheduling more time for them in your Microsoft Outlook calendar. Organized sports are out of the question at your age, and yes, it's true, you really have been smoking for almost two decades now.
7. No, what you're hearing on that kid's radio in Washington Park is not some Outkast B-side. It's actually a whole new breed of hip hop/trance fusion that you had no idea exists. Yes, I agree, it does sound awfully loud.
8. Remember when you laughed your ass off at Chris Rock's "old guy in the club" bit? (No seriously, I'm asking you... do you remember that? I mean it was quite some time ago. Sometimes those things slip.)
9. Hangovers: they're more than just myth.
10. Starting in 24 hours, you are officially closer to 40 than to 20. How're they hanging now, kid?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go make a doctor's appointment for a prostate exam. I still have no idea what that 401k thing is.