It’s not that I have just four friends. I probably have five. One of you is the mom of my oldest son. Then there’s Ricky. The other two, you can figure it out. If I actually have five friends you have a good chance of getting it right.
I’m turning 50. I have given it much thought, most of which can be summed up in two talking points:
I Have Enough Mugs. I have an entire kitchen cupboard full of mugs. Branded mugs, novelty mugs, mugs from who knows where, mugs in the back of the cupboard that I have not seen or touched since my late forties. When you are 50, you will understand the problem of mugs. And when you prefer to drink from the same mug every morning, a mug collective is a nuisance. That’s what you do as you approach 50—you narrow your choices, hone your preferences, exclude the extraneous. Call it quaint if you want. The mug? It’s a handsome brown mug made by an artist named Klosterboer, whose signature and date are on the bottom. Nancy gave it to me. Nancy is my wife and best friend and she will read this letter but she is not counted as one of you four. I digress but let me get to the moral of this talking point and it is this: I don’t need a mug for my 50th birthday. I’m covered. Update: Nancy just gave me another beautiful handmade mug, this one by a history professor named Kutulas.
I Do a Killer Job Folding Laundry. I have a few natural skills, one of which is folding laundry. I credit my mother with providing me with a solid foundation for folding, though it was my father who managed all our laundry. Towels always fold in half lengthwise then in thirds, shirts are symmetrically halved and halved again, women’s underwear is folded three times into packets—side, side, middle. When I put a stack of properly folded women’s underwear into Nancy’s dresser drawer, I am a hero. See, when you turn 50—and two of you will be there soon—you start to think of winding down, of what you’ve accomplished, of who you are and how you may be remembered. Not so much your impact but whether you have been useful. And I think it would be good to be remembered as a person who did a killer job of folding the family’s laundry. If, God forbid, you are asked to say something at my funeral, emphasize two things: 1) I made a great cup of coffee; and 2) I was a master of folding laundry. Between now and then I don’t think those two things will change. More importantly for a eulogy, both of these things are true.
So, yeah, I’m 50. I’m lucky to be here. Lucky to have you, lucky to have a best friend, lucky to be around each day when my kids come home from school. Thanks.