This will be quick (yes, I know that’s what she said, I’m well aware of what she says but I don’t have time for this!). Fridays disappear in a blur and no matter when sundown is– when the Astrof family shuts off all electronica and tries to relax (and Daddy Astrof notices every single ceiling crack and water stain and resolves to do something about it but immediately forgets until the following Friday night)– the day passes quickly. When I am at work my focus and ability to tell jokes miraculously speeds up to fit a full day’s work into whatever time I wind up leaving (a much bigger miracle then, say, oil lasting for 8 nights). But I don’t have time for these digressions.
People should not get depressed by their birthdays. They should get depressed by the day after their birthdays. That’s when your facebook friends recede back into the woodwork– all the cute girls you had crushes on from camp who are now mothers of cute girls who go to camp forget about you until Facebook reminds them a year from now that you got older. Forty-five reminded me of its significance at the gym this morning when my supernaturally upbeat trainer gave me another timed challenge– a crazy combination of leg-lifts, dead lifts and push-ups– that would have been a snap for a 44 year old, but were a bit much for this 45 year old. I was listening to a Ke$ha song yesterday– I debated whether or not to admit that I like Ke$ha’s music, but I thought as long as I don’t admit that I have Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” on my “Pump It” iPod playlist I won’t subject myself to too much ridicule. (Pump It refers to the gym by the way). Anyway, Ke$ha has a lyric that says “We’re young and we’re bored”. I started to wonder whether I ever said in my twenties, “Wow, I’m young.” Or whether I was bored in my twenties. My wife and I always have conversations looking back at pictures of ourselves from twenty (!) years ago saying how cute we were back then. I remember feeling not cute back then, but somehow in the pictures I become much cuter with my pompadour and non-furrowed brow. Anyway, it scares me a little that one day twenty years from now I may go, “Wow, look how cute and thin I was back then.” It scares me equally to think that I won’t.
Anyway, my Friday started in typical dramatic fashion because my daughter is still sick. As I mentioned, she probably would have been the first snack to be had if she were in the Donner party. I decided that since she wasn’t throwing up or febrile she should go to school. To me, one of the hardest parts of parenting is knowing when to draw the line like my parents did, offering me on numerous occasions “something to cry about” when it was clear I had already found something to cry about– and when to pull back. I chose to force her to go to school– again, no fever, no throwing up, no head spinning– which resulted in her having a tantrum, at which point I kissed my wife on the cheek and left for the gym. Before you judge me, it was the best thing for my daughter that I wasn’t there for the dramatic dropoff. And yes, I owe my wife one, but I owe my wife a million so what am I going to do.
One of my Friday chores is doing the food shopping– a chore that my wife hates and that I happen to enjoy. I like it because it feeds into my goal-oriented nature. I have a list of things to do and I get to do them immediately. Sure, I get hung up on whether or not to scan the items myself to save time and pretend I work at Ralph’s (which always takes longer than had I entrusted the scanning to an actual Ralph’s employee), but it always feels very hunter/gathery of me. After my hunting and gathering, I go get a manicure (if the Ke$ha run didn’t scare off the last heterosexual man reading about my day, this oughta do it). My wife turned me on to getting manicures about 5 years ago and I’m hooked. Nailworks on Wilshire and Highland is my “Cheers”; it’s where everybody knows my name. Sure, they call me “Jack” which I believe is Vietnamese for “Jeff”, but I’m not going to be defensive about my weekly manicure and buff.
One thing specific to this particular Friday was a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine– the one who almost died of alcohol poisoning with me at my 30th birthday. He’s one of my best, most trusted friends, whom I talk to about once a month and see even less, but he’s always good for a deep dark laugh. He just found out that the show he was working on is getting trashed by the network, so his entire creative year seems to have been for naught. Not exactly naught, he made money and had a place to go, but in our business you need to get traction– be on a show that will get you noticed and help you get another deal. I have not had traction in many years, and right now I’ve got four bald tires on a patch of black ice. (Again, if I give myself the same credit I give him, I realize that this year provided me with great experience, good pay, work with good people and more contacts. But neither of us got traction.) Our conversation quickly led to where it always lead: what if we hit the lottery and get a hit show on the air. Will that make us happy? The quick answer, of course, is: Yes, of course it will! I mean, no. No it won’t. The truth is, I’d love to have the challenge of being super wealthy and staying grounded.
After we hung up I turned on the radio to hear Charlie Sheen (super rich, super crazy) rant about Chuck Lorre (nee Chaim Levine, super rich, notoriously cranky), two prime examples of money not curing everything, or maybe anything.
Anyway, that’s all. Tomorrow night my wife is taking me away to a hotel where we will get spa treatments and do what every married man with children in America fantasizes about: sleep in and watch live tv with commercials. That’s a good birthday present. Huh, this turned out to be longer than I thought (not what she said).