Today I am 40 and one day.
I never knew what all those Viagra spam messages were about until his morning. I am now wearing a cardigan, have sore knees and only use my tackle for weeing. Nobody told me the change in my demographic grouping would be so sudden. Next thing I know I’ll be qualifying for those ‘over-55’ funeral expenses offers you see on daytime television.
Anyway, back to 2003.
I’m a dad, I’m married and I own (well the bank does) a house. My 5 year plan is ahead of schedule by two years.
Stalin wasn’t this good with his tractor factories.
I am also coming to the sudden realisation that my life is both finite and not my own. I’m completely at peace with these feeling now but I remember back in 2003 lying in bed at night staring at the ceiling thinking about my impending death and the infinite nothingness that the hereafter might be. I suppose that if your teens and twenties are all about the immortality and hence the recklessness of youth then your thirties (or more appropriately fatherhood) was all about the finite. You had passed on the gene pool and were waiting to be knocked over by a bus.
I knew parenthood was hard – I had watched all the documentaries about inner city teenagers being asked to mind a bag of sugar – so that bit didn’t bother me. It was the stupid effort to try and hold onto my old life that was the real challenge.
Take going to the cinema. I would probably have gone to the cinema every other week before I had kids (there were more to follow) but now, like an old man who hasn’t been to the cinema since the magnificent 7 was in and he was there smoking in a jumbo seat, I haven’t been in years. Well, that’s a lie. I haven’t been to a non-kids film in years. I wasn’t prepared for that.
Going to the pub was also a bit of a problem. The beer didn’t taste as nice when you had to be awake in 4 hours with the baby and you’d had to pay for the beer and the babysitter so the cost made beers from the fridge at home taste nicer.
Still, I realised that I wasn’t the first man on the planet to become a dad so I didn’t need to panic. In 2003 our holiday was to the south west of France to a place on the coast outside Perpignan called St. Cyprien. When you live in a dull rain soaked northern European country any place where the Med laps the beach and the wine is cheaper than the water is a good place. St. Cyprien was that place. Outside of St. Cyprien were some beautiful villages in the foothills of the Pyrenees – Ceret – famous for it’s cherries and that Picasso passed the war here.
Back then, in 2003 the celtic tiger was starting to roar and our incomes were outstripping our needs (a memory these days) so we had enough money to go on a second holiday. We picked an agritourismo on the Lazio/Tuscany boarder. It’s that sort of countryside that is all rolling hills and tall cypress trees on the dirt tracks on the road up to the villas.
We, however,were staying in a converted farm shed on a kiwi farm. Looking back on it I would describe it as an ‘interesting holiday’.
Looking back on the photographs of the holiday I would say that I hadn’t shifted my pregnancy pounds. I was suffering from a massive amount of body dimorphism. the camera wasn’t lying though and I had a very well insulated set of tonsils and kidneys. It would take another 12 to 15 months for the ‘click’ to take place in my head and for me to re-discover my skinny youth and all things that cause you to pant…………..except the gerbil in a gay bar type of panting.