Today, I turn 40.
This used to be a big deal. It used to mean middle age. But I’m not really sweating it. Sure, there are some things I’m disappointed I haven’t accomplished yet (*coughMYBOOKcough*) but 40 is the new 30, so I still have some time.
But there is one thing that bums me out about today’s milestone.
I was proud of him starting first grade (not that he’s accomplished anything with his meager little life, but, um, he’s definitely grown a few inches?) but it wasn’t just that. I was also looking forward to meeting his teachers and seeing which of his friends were in his class. And I couldn’t wait to find out if any of his friends have hot moms!
Just kidding. That doesn’t matter. Not anymore.
When I was a dad in my thirties, I was a hot commodity. I was a sexy unicorn, walking the streets with a baby strapped to my chest, pushing a stroller around at the playground, pheromones coming off me like a cat in heat. I was top-shelf mommy fodder! Every time I took the detective to school, I could feel the MILFs ogling me from across the daycare parking lot. It was like being a rock star!
Or it would have been, had that ever happened to me. It never did, obviously; I’m making it all up. But it could have, when I was in my thirties! And now it never will! I’m not a young and cool dad anymore.
There’s nothing a woman loves more than a hot young father who gets his hands dirty with the child-rearing. For a stretch in my thirties I was a stay-at-home dad (it mostly sucked), which meant not only were my hands dirty, they were covered in baby food, and baby spit-up, and baby poop. And I was irresistible! Because despite the rising tide of dads performing their duty as parents, it was still something of a rarity to see them in the wild, especially young ones.
Now I’m forty years old and none of that applies. Being a dad isn’t an attractive anomaly for someone my age, it’s par for the course; it’s a straight-up societal expectation. It’s typical. It’s about time. There’s nothing young, hip, or unique about me anymore.
Now I’m just old(ish), lame, and boring. The world has changed a lot since previous generations, so the stuff I grew up enjoying as a kid (Star Wars, superheroes, the Clintons) is now acceptable for me to enjoy as a middle-aged father of two, but it’s still not hip. I don’t even know what’s hip. Twenty-one Pilots? Snapchat? That “Teen Wolf” TV show? GTFO. Ain’t nobody got time for that (especially when they’re spending so much time on FB and Twitter and IG).
Being in my forties means not even the most generous person would consider me “young,” it makes being cool a challenge, and it makes being a cool dad impossible. Sure, maybe I’m still young enough to wear my old concert t-shirts, but that just means I’m trying too hard. Maybe I’m still cool enough to wear my favorite jeans that happen to be ripped in a few fashionable-AF places but Jesus can’t I afford nice clothes at this age? Now when I wear a t-shirt and jeans I just look like a bum desperate to be back in college.
The issue isn’t exactly that someone my age can’t be cool. You can be, just mostly accidentally. You can’t try, because nothing is less cool than an old guy trying to be cool. Well, nothing except an old guy raising kids and trying to be cool. I’m fully expecting my gifts today to be some dad jeans, a few ties, and maybe a pipe? I guess I could still be a cool dad, if this were the 1940s.
Today is my birthday, but it’s also my funeral. I’m no longer a young, cool dad. In lieu of flowers, please send Starbucks gift cards.