So, it’s official: the best thing about Facebook, by far, is that people you never ever talk to or see wish you a happy birthday. That, and you know, bringing Democracy to the Arab world. As dumb as it sounds, it actually makes you feel like people care. And then they send some stupid request like to join Farmville and you realize you have nothing in common, but still…
Age 45 started out with a groan that can only come from a man with two 45 year old groin muscles that were pulled during basketball. I felt like Carl, the old man from Up, hobbling to the bathroom. Okay, enough with the sexy talk. For the last 15 years– since my 30th birthday when I rented out the top room of the erstwhile Brown Derby, invited the cast of “Friends” and got so drunk I got kicked out of my own party but not before hitting on one of the studio executives who worked on our show (it was unsuccessful if you must know)– I’ve thrown myself a big birthday party. Some of the highlights were the two times I rented out roller rinks and a three day trip to Lake Tahoe where I invited a bunch of friends to Caesar’s Palace to gamble, ski and have what turned out to be a life-changing weekend. That was 11 years ago, and it wound up leading to me getting my first dog, Tahoe, and my first fiancee, Shawni. Anyway, this year, right around the time I would plan such a party, my job ended and I got the word that my pilot was not going to be picked up, so my desire to drop a lot of money to watch old people roller skate to “I Wanna Rock With You” was dampened. Coincidentally, my daughter asked why we always went out on my birthday and didn’t involve the kids. I decided not answer honestly, “because kids make things less fun,” and instead agreed that this year we would go out for a big family dinner with just the four of us, and maybe my cousin and sister and brother in law would drop by. Those plans were scuttled when my daughter got sick so we are ordering in sushi and having a cake that my kids are fighting over who gets to decorate (see: “kids make things less fun”). Anyway, the real celebration will take place Saturday night when my wife takes me to a hotel until the kids call us crying and we come back– but I’m really looking forward to a ride to a hotel with my wife. Just so it doesn’t seem like such a bummer– I love my kids despite my daughter crying because she thinks I think it’s her fault she gets sick (I may have once said “it’s your fault you get sick”), I came downstairs this morning to find a bunch of colorful drawings from my kids wishing me a happy birthday and telling me all the things they love about me: I make good eggs, I’m funny, I’m a good writer, etc. hanging from the light in the foyer. They will no doubt be hanging there until next year, but it really did make me feel good. If I haven’t said so already, “I love my kids”.
This morning marked the end of my involvement for the year at $#*! My Dad Says. I went in to meet the guys who created the show for a couple of hours to help edit a small promotional reel for the show. It was a weird feeling for me. The show was cut short after only 18 episodes instead of the usual 22, so I never got to feel that huge sense of relief/fatigue/accomplishment that comes with the end of a full season. I guess, like my Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I never got closure. (I spoke to a mutual friend yesterday who told me my crazy ex was disappointed that she and I didn’t have more of an interaction when we reunited at the gym the other day. I replied, “Did she want a kiss? Last time we saw each other she threatened to kill me!” “No, she just wanted closure.” “I’m married with two kids. There’s her closure.”) Anyway, it was a little sad to go back into my office which was transformed into the offices of a new pilot, with nary a trace that I was ever there. Everything in Hollywood is illusory, even having an office. (I also realized that one of the benefits of work is that it takes up much of the space during the day that you think would otherwise be taken up by pure birthday celebration, but when you’re not working, you realize that, no, there’s only a couple of hours of birthday celebration anyway, so why not have the illusion that if you weren’t at work it’d be Marti Gras all day long.)
So as I turn 45, I am comforted by the fact that I have kids, who make things less fun, but are ultimately good kids, and a wife who is way out of my league in every way– she “married high”, as in, she got me when I was able to rent out fancy restaurants and have “Friends” over. Now I don’t even have friends–small f– over. And while I fear the unknown– where will I work next year– I count my blessings and am comforted by a story I recently heard on the radio that said that people peak creatively in their mid-forties. So, here I am, peaking. I was also comforted, by of all people, my agent– usually of the agency of Doom & Gloom– who is very upbeat about the future. (In a sitcom we would cue a Flip To: Jeff moving into a one-bedroom apartment under the 10 Freeway.)
Anyway, my kids are calling me in to see the cake so I should go. By the way, the cake is Mrs. Beasley’s chocolate with cream cheese icing and chocolate chips. It’s the best cake in the world and I only eat it once a year, on my birthday, which makes it even better. As a funny side story, on the way home from lunch with my wife– during which my Facebook happy birthdays went from 50 to 80!– I was musing that I wonder what it’s like when you stop having any desire for intimacy with your partner. My wife replied, “It’s not so bad.” Happy birthday to me, huh?