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Birthday No. 46 will be low-key

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When we’re very young, we look forward to some milestone birthdays. At 13 you become a teenager. At 16, the freedom of a driver’s license beckons. At 18, and then 21, the responsibilities and privileges of adulthood arrive.

But I’m reasonably sure no one looks ahead, longingly, to the far off weekday when he or she turns 46.

But here I am. Huzzah.

I’ve found it’s best to set expectations low. If you spend a day like this waiting for a Blue Angels flyby, a call from the president or a massive balloon drop, it’s going to be disappointing. Best to just stay busy, and try to forget all about Bob Dylan singing “he not busy being born is busy dying.”

Besides, according to some website I found, I can expect to live another 32.9 years, on average, give or take. That means I might get to mow my lawn 1,000 more times.

Unfortunately, another website says I’ve likely reached the pinnacle of my material wealth, which will begin declining any minute now. No worries, the descent from my pinnacle will be very short. Don’t think Matterhorn. Think pitcher’s mound. I guess I’ll skip dropping $2,000 bucks on that 46-yeaar old bottle of scotch.

Forty-six, as numbers go, isn’t all that inspiring. It is the number of human chromosomes, the atomic number of palladium and the direct dial code for Sweden. I already have commenced writing my first international spy novel “Palladium 46 — The Swedish Chromosome.”

Forty-six years ago today, according to that afternoon’s Gazette, the feds began sinking a dilapidated ship off the Florida coast carrying concrete boxes containing nerve gas weapons set for disposal. Experts said it was totally safe, in part, because rabbits placed on the ship ahead of the sinking did not die. So no leaks. Good news.

Otherwise, the news was a far cry from today. In a front-page story, Democratic U.S. Sen. George McGovern accused President Nixon of trying to “muzzle” the press through a “climate of fear,” while using television to an “unprecedented degree.” Crazy. Glad that can’t happen today.

Another front page feature was the daily “chuckle.”

“Current events are so grim that you don’t know whether to watch the 6 o’clock news and not be able to eat dinner or the 11 o’clock news and not be able to sleep,” it said.

Forty-six years later, we can be nauseous and sleepless 24 hours a day on multiple digital platforms. Progress.

I know what you’re thinking. What does all of this mean?

It means I’m doing my damndest to avoid becoming a sad, pathetic cliche of middle-aged introspection.

Have I achieved my dreams? Do I have any regrets? Should I drive directly to an auto dealership and trade our minivan for a convertible? Why are all my clothes shrinking?

No, yes, maybe, beer and doughnuts. Enough.

Why spend the first day of my new age wallowing in past foibles? I’ll simply spend the day looking for the quiet, everyday joys of life that we sometimes miss, for the little pleasures that enrich our existence, for the blessings I’ve taken for granted and, most of all, for the Blue Angels.

l Comments: (319) 398-8452; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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