“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Thanks to Satchel Paige who, in the grand tradition of Yogi Berra, once asked this question in response to queries about his age. Paige, who due to segregation made his Major League Baseball debut at the age of 42, had every reason to downplay the age issue. After all, he remained a dominant pitcher into his late forties. As for Berra, an acknowleged master of the boneheaded quote, I’ll go with this personal favorite from the Yankee Hall of Famer:

“Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

While obviously garbled, Berra’s point comes through loud and clear. The same theory could be applied to trying to get excited about a late-thirties birthday, which I found myself attempting to do as Memorial Day Weekend rapidly approached.

On Saturday, May 24 I would be thirty-eight years old. The last couple of birthdays before a milestone are a bit strange. On one hand, you are forced to accept the fact that, like it or not, you will soon be thirty, or forty, or fifty. On the other hand, you still have the option of going the juvenile route: “Yeah, but not yet!” I was torn between these two frames of mind. But before I even made it to Saturday, I found myself facing a more immediate problem. Without further ado, our WTF moment of the week!

On Friday, I awoke with a song stuck in my head. Nothing unusual in that, you might say, everyone experiences this from time to time. Usually I would agree. But then, the song playing on an endless loop in my head usually isn’t this.

This is how my birthday weekend began; walking around at work, singing a Sesame Street song I hadn’t heard in better than twenty years. Fortunately no one heard me paying tribute to the number 12. At least I don’t think anyone did.

I awoke on Saturday to a house decorated with balloons and ribbons. My lovely wife, Dena had stayed up late on Friday to get things ready for me. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, cheese and scones. In fact, the breakfast was so hearty that we ended up skipping lunch. This turned out to be a good thing, since we’d planned to go to Leatherwood Fish Lodge for dinner.

For years Leatherwood, which features all you can eat catfish, shrimp, scallops, oysters , and more, has been a favorite of ours. We hadn’t been there since moving back to Georgia, and weren’t even sure if the place was still in business until I’d called the day before. We set out for Toccoa, Georgia at around 6:00 pm, my mouth already watering in anticipation of stuffing my face with fried seafood. When we arrived at restaurant, the parking lot was empty. It seemed that maybe the person I’d talked to the day before had been wrong about the place’s hours.

The door opened when we pulled, however, and we walked inside. The place was completely deserted. Every time we’d ever been there before, it had been crawling with people. No one manned the front register, and there was no sound from the kitchen. It seemed that some mistake had been made. Either the retaurant was closed and the people who ran it had forgotten to lock the door, or else Dena and I were about to meet “He who walks behind the rows.”

But when Dena called out “hello,” a woman appeared and told us that yes, they were open. We chose not to question the lack of customers, and instead accepted her invitation to sit wherever we wanted. When the food came, it was every bit as good as I remembered. I ate a whole bowl of boneless catfish, and left feeling as if I could die happy at that very moment.

My blissful mood lasted until approximately 11:00 the next morning, at which time the leftover sausage I ate for breakfast began a hard charge to escape the confines of my stomach. First I felt a little nauseous. Then my head started to ache. When I felt the first cramps deep in my gut, I knew that the battle was lost. I got up and hurried to the bathroom. Let’s just say that the next few hours weren’t exactly pleasant. To get an idea of things were like, click here, if you dare.

By the time Monday rolled around, I felt better. I spent the afternoon watching my Atlanta Braves battle the Boston Red Sox. Things went well for our side in the early going, as the Braves jumped out to a 6-1 lead. But then the fifth inning began, and suddenly the Red Sox morphed from a team stuck in a ten game losing streak into the Gas House Gorillas from the old Bugs Bunny cartoon. Two walks, a double, a single, and a David Ortiz home run later, and  Boston was on its way to a 8-6 win. Dammit!

The Bear Team wrapped up my birthday weekend with a visit to the AT&T store to get a new phone. When I took out the one I’d been using, the customer service guy stared at it like an archeologist who’d just unearthed a major find from the Mesozoic Era. Apparently I was the last person in the known world without a smart phone. I joined modern society minutes later when I signed a new contract and walked away with an iPhone. Now I can be one of those people who never, under any circumstances, looks up from his phone. All right!

That just about does it for now. As always, thanks for reading. We always appreciate it. But before we part ways, one final thought. With another birthday in the rearview mirror, and forty rapidly approaching, I find that I still find much to love about life. Not a day goes by that I don’t enjoy, with the possible exception of days, like this past Sunday, spent lurching to the bathroom in the hope of making it in time. Each day is unique and full of possibilities.

Okay, that’s more than enough nobility for one day. I’ll leave you with another favorite birthday quote directly from the pen of master wordsmith Theodor Geisel, better know to the world as Dr. Seuss:

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”




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