Turning 49 doesn’t matter much when you don’t act your age anyway

image Last night, a good friend suddenly and without warning offered a pre-emptive toast to my turning 49 next week. I call him a “good” friend because, until as recently as last night, I considered him a “great” friend. But I honestly can’t remember his name now.

Haha! Just kidding!

We were actually never very close.

Ok, in all seriousness, until his good-natured ribbing about turning 49 (I still can’t stop laughing!), I hadn’t given it much thought. That’s because I don’t really think about myself relative to age.

Relative to the nearest strip of bacon, coffee shop and my wife, sure.

But age?

Not really.

I mean, just look at my coffee mug!


Do I look like a man concerned with being age-appropriate?

I still wear band shirts from Hot Topic.

I have eight pairs of Marvel superhero Vans shoes.

Sometimes when I’m at a drive-thru, I’ll order my food while talking like Elmer Fudd.

“I’d wike your deee-wishess ba-weeto su-pweem, pweez…”

I still get excited when, like at dinner last night, I found a Star Wars poster in my box of Reese’s peanut butter cereal! And yes, I had peanut butter cereal for dinner.

It's like The Force picked ME to have this poster!
It’s like The Force picked ME to have this poster!

On the rare occasion I’m asked for my age, like when it’s Senior Tuesday at Fred Meyer I order a glass of wine, I have to think about it and then count forward from 1977. I was 11 years old then. I remember that because Star Wars came out that year.

I realize a person could suggest the inability to remember my age is, in itself, a sign of my aging. However, as I’ve mentioned, that person’s name escapes me.

It’s no small irony that over the years some people have remarked, “You don’t look your age!” while others have suggested “You need to start ACTING your age!” I don’t think this is a coincidence. In fact, I’d say one is the direct result of the other. Keeping a lighthearted perspective on the world and maintaining a sense of wonderment about its possibilities — whether plausible or fanciful — helps avoid that downward spiral into living life in an uninspired rut. Kids instinctively avoid this rut because they know their mission is to explore, push the boundaries and question the rules — of the house, the laws of physics, human anatomy, the proper use of utensils — in order to define themselves.

They approach life with their eyes wide open because they haven’t started second-guessing the world yet.

Then somewhere along the way we’re told being an adult means having all the answers. So we stop questioning. Stop wondering. Stop trying to move objects with our mind while sitting in traffic. Stop believing in the possibility — however remote — we might be the vessel of an undiscovered super power.

I’ve worked hard to keep my youthful perspective.

Does that mean I spend every moment being a goofball trying to shoot lasers out of my eyes or throw a stapler at my editor using my mind?

Ok, fine. But how about when I’m not at work?

No. I recognize when it’s time take things seriously and the responsibilities I have as a father, husband and human being. I’m reminded of this whenever my fire department pager goes off — and how knowing when to embrace rational understanding over youthful wonderment can mean the difference between life and death.

Yet the same can be said about everyday life: knowing when to embrace wonderment over rationality can also mean the difference between life and death, albeit a slow from the inside.

So as I approach 49, I plan on keeping a balance between the two. For example, when I responded to this morning’s tap-out for a car accident I put youthful wonderment aside and dialed-in my serious mode.

But I was still wearing these babies under my turnouts…

A gift from my kids, because they don’t want me to “act my age” either.

Because constantly living your life “age-appropriately” can be like Kryptonite.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Disclaimer: Even if you choose Ned’s book for summer reading, you should still use sunscreen.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

98 thoughts on “Turning 49 doesn’t matter much when you don’t act your age anyway”

  1. Wow! Your birthday is on my husband’s birthday! Great day! And you were born the same year as my little, I mean younger, brother. Just wait until next year when you have an awesome excuse to have a huge party. Never grow old. Always stay young at heart, curious, and creative. Rock on!

    1. You mean I have to wait until next year for the big party?!? Ooops..
      *Sends back mariachi band*

      Rockin’ on, Susan 😉 And my best wishes to your husband and fellow “Leo” for a wonderful birthday!

  2. 1977 was the greatest year in human history…well, at least this human’s history.

    I tried acting my age for about 10 years…worst decade of my life. Much happier now without the worries. Happy calorie-free cake day, when it arrives!

  3. best picture of a male modelling underwear I have seen this year..okay maybe this week..okay fine… today. And the positioning of the superheros for stitching was superb. Age is relative to the number of years which have accumulated against the possibility of the extension of the viable years you have remaining. The fewer you think you have the more precious they seem to become to those who forgot to appreciate life by living in the moment. The gift of life is being able to be silly, act silly and embarrass your children at every possible moment by acting like they do instead of as a ‘grown up’. It’s the best compliment they can give you. You’re not immature,you’re ageless. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The story…not the underwear. Happy Birth month.

    1. Beautifully said. About living in the moment and how embarrassing our kids keeps us young at heart. Although the underwear part wasn’t bad, either.

      Definitely stay “immature” and ageless. It’s clearly working. Although some superhero underwear never hurts 😉

  4. Yes! Acting your age is so overrated. I don’t feel 42, in my mind I’m still 25. And not because I care about getting older, it’s just the age I feel I reached my peak maturity. Yes to Hot Topic band tees, yes to acting silly and goofy but knowing when your adult self needs to show up. My kids are my favorite vehicle for goofing off. I play pranks on them and loooove to use their slang just to annoy them “Real talk, brah” The looks of disgust mixed with admiration make my heart so happy…

    1. Hahaha! Yes, utilizing “kid-speak” to annoy my teens is one of my favorite pastimes. Especially when they have friends over. I get their full cooperation by threatening to do my own rap songs.

  5. LOL! Happy birthday! 😉

    People age backwards or at least the smart ones do. We used to embarrass our teen-agers, now we get to embarrass our grown children because we are so “immature.” I keep trying to reassure them that this serious adulthood phase they are in will thankfully pass, much like the flu.

  6. Ah, you are almost at the turning point – 1/2 baked, so to speak. I found out upon turning 50 that the trifles in life become far less serious and the freedom of childlike wonder returns ten fold. I think you’re in for a really fun ride. Happy 49 – it only gets better!

  7. Happy Birthday Old man, I think I can get away with that comment as I turn 49 10 days after you. If I crossed a line with that comment no worries, I will just blame it on my old age. CHEERS.

  8. Have a great birthday next week, Ned 🙂
    My son frequently accuses me of regressing. He doesn’t usuallypay me compliments, so I can believe him when he does 😉
    It is all downhill from here, they say… but you can get up a real turn of speed on the way 😉

  9. Happy early birthday! Also, I kinda want that coffee mug. On the other hand, I have a Batman coin bank: he scowls at you as you put money in, presumably under the impression that you may have stolen it from the innocent people of Gotham.

  10. I wouldn’t have thought you were a day over 12 if it weren’t for the epic facial hair 🙂 I can relate, even though I am way, way younger than you, (45 is the new 20, right? Well, that’s what I heard.) Anyway, I doubt I will ever act/dress/hopefully look my age either. I am what I am. The world needs people who can’t completely grow up 🙂 Oh, happy early birthday!

    1. I’m pretty sure you heard right about 45 being the new 20! At least that’s what I heard. Then again, I thought my wife was calling me her “love machine” when she actually said we needed to “have the rug re-cleaned.”

      Either way, I’m glad to know we’re on the same side keeping the world from completely growing up 😉

      1. See… 45 was the year I had my near nervous breakdown. 40 weren’t nuthin.. 50 either. But 45?? OMG! I was on Valium for a month! (well not really, I just should have been) :-/

  11. 49 ain’t no thang… I remember it well! (mainly because it was only 3 years ago) but it is a good thing you recognize the difference between acting your age and looking your age! I choose neither one personally! I don’t look my age or ACT it! LOL! 😉
    Love the undies!! *giggle*

  12. Ned, as I write this I’m wearing “my little pony” underwear. Dude, while I may only be on the cusp of 42, I know EXACTLY how you feel.

    (and for what it’s worth, you don’t look your age)

    1. Wearing “My Little Pony” underwear will KEEP you on the cusp, Ann. Not to mention, if I remember correctly, “My Little Ponies” are ridden bareback — which is a whole otherkind of cusp…

  13. You are just about at that age where one begins to contemplate and wonder “Who am I really?”. Then you change your name to Caitlyn and begin wearing thon…gs…. uh oh…..

  14. I’ve always made a point of not exactly forgetting how old I am, but not trying to remember either. There’s always a pause while I work it out – usually counting on my fingers. My birthday is in December, so that means I’m always younger than everyone else 🙂 Must admit though, I have succumbed to a good eye cream since I was 25. But this was purely to spite a boyfriend and his pal who declared that fairskinned redheads never age well. They were soooooooo wrong 🙂

    1. It sounds to me like you have struck the perfect balance of wonderment and plausible deniability! Well done 😉

      And that boyfriend’s pal obviously hasn’t seen Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba or you, apparently. You go, girl!

  15. “knowing when to embrace wonderment over rationality can also mean the difference between life and death, albeit a slow from the inside.”

    EXACTLY! I absolutely loved this post. In fact, I’m saving and sending to myself for when I turn 49…next year!

    You have the very best way of meshing humor with sage life lessons. It’s why I remain your biggest fan (but, not in a Kathy Bates “Misery” character sort of way!)
    I hope you’re having a great week!

    PS: Love the boxers! NOW who has the legs?

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle 😉 I’m sure you’ll mow through turning 49 as easily as you would the grass in your yard. And the neighbor’s…

      This week I’m doing double-time before going on vacation next week — and it’s our 7th wedding anniversary this Thursday! So yeah, this is a great week!

      P.S. You still win in the legs department. If “Annie” had your legs, I think “Paul” would have stayed without being hobbled…

    1. It’s too late for me, Greg. But I’ll do my best to warn the others!

      As for the briefs, I think my kids got them at Target or Hot Topic. I honestly don’t think they thought I’d ever wear them! At least not on Facebook where their friends can see, haha!

  16. The best part of aging, is I no longer give a damn, thus if I want to swim topless (legal where I live) in our pool, well the kids can just keep their curtains closed. 😉

  17. You don’t look your age. And no one believes I’m 46 either. Age is a number, and sometimes the way you feel when you roll out of bed in the morning, but definitely a state of mind. Life is way better when approached with wonderment. I love being my age!

    1. Tara, I had to laugh at what you said about how you feel when you roll out of bed — my age definitely varies depending on my night’s sleep! — but I couldn’t agree more: wonderment is the only way to approach life 😉

  18. As a dear friend reminded me on my birthday this year, aging is mandatory but maturity is optional. I exercise the option only when I have to!! Belated Happy birthday to someone who doesn’t even need dancing cats to brighten up the interwebs. (Drinking cats, maybe…) Hope you had a fantastic day and wishing you a superlative year!

    1. Hahaha! I need to have that made into a T-shirt. Possibly even a tramp stamp…

      Thank you for the warm wishes, and for permission to finally be rid of these drunken dancing cats. My B-day isn’t until the 16th, so I will definitely be taking your thoughts of superlativeness to heart 😉

      Thank You!

  19. I do so enjoy your wise words squished between wise cracks.
    Knowing when to embrace wonderment over rationality is why I have pictures of my kids and I covered in mud from a day playing at the park. And knowing when to embrace rationality over wonderment is why we did it the day we were all wearing playclothes and had no where to be that night. 🙂 It’s all about the balance, and the mudbath. So good for the skin.

  20. My car insurer informed me this morning that in a couple of months I’m eligible for a discount if I join a seniors’ federation. Cheaper insurance/loss of dignity — it’s a tough one.

  21. I was recently criticized for playing video games by a friend (behind my back). She said I needed “to take on some responsibility”. Taking care of 3 men, 2 guinea pigs and a home, plus work, plus leading 2 worship teams and a women’s outreach ministry makes me irresponsible? I am trying to having my mid-life crisis with humour, and sometimes I just need to shoot aliens in the head. Maybe I should tell her I’m considering another tattoo (I’m not but I’d love to see her reaction…)

    1. It sounds to me like you have plenty of responsibilites already, Jenn — keeping your sanity is the most important one. If killing aliens helps you let off some steam, lock and load! It’s the people who have no way of relieving the pressures of life who I worry about.

      Besides, when aliens really DO invade, we’ll see who your friend runs to for help. Even if you get a tattoo for every alien you kill…

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