Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Al Stewart: Time Passages -- Happy Birthday to Me (And to all of us -- Each and Every One)

I didn't care to write this last week, because it was my birthday.

In recent years that has become a day of contemplation -- and confusion.

Birthdays are days of great fun when you're a little kid.

Your mom invites all your friends over -- gives you ice cream and cake -- and your mom and dad give you a great new gift.

Then you get a tad older and your mom says -- it's your birthday -- so you get to tell us whatever you want to have for dinner.

I would always ask for steak and a baked potato and a salad with thousand island dressing (OK I had rather pedestrian tastes as a teenager.)

When I became a college boy, I would ask for a steak and french fries and a salad with thousand island dressing and red onions. (A marginal culinary improvement.)

And then birthdays begin to blur.
They began to take on eminently less importance.

I remember my 30th birthday when a Southern girl -- who had the hots for me -- called me up with about 3 of her girlfriends on the conference call -- and they were hooting and hollering about how I had just turned the big 3-0.

And I quite distinctly remember my 32nd birthday, quite fondly, when a bunch of the girls from my co-ed softball team came over to my office and insisted on taking me out for lunch to a very nice restaurant on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol.

I was the former superstar of our team, who had become the eminence grise of the team and who played 1st base, batted fifth and managed these younger kids into winning the Congressional League Southern States Tournament.

I was so happy that these girls appreciated what I had done. One of them, a die-hard German-American conservative from Idaho, wanted to marry me. I put her off, because I didn't think she was gorgeous enough for me.

I was an idiot.

So now birthdays are a time for reflection -- sometimes melancholy -- sometimes uplifting.

On this birthday, It has occurred to me that I have lived to an older age than the following people -- who I used to view as scary older guys:

--- I have outlived John Lennon
--- I have outlived James Dean
--- I have outlived President John F. Kennedy
--- I have outlived "John-John" John F. Kennedy Jr. (who was born in the same year as I was)
--- I have outlived Elvis


But, while in previous years this would have been a cause for some modicum of depression, it is not this year.

Did you know that Ray Kroc of Northfield, IL did not start his first McDonald's restaurant, which was in Des Plaines, IL, until he was 56?

Did you know that W. Clement Stone, of the North Side of Chicago, did not start the Combined Insurance Company of North America, until he was in his 60s? (And he did it during the Great Depression.)

So while Al Stewart (see above video clip) only had two great hits in his life, he made millions, became a very nice and quite modest husband and father.

It occurs to me that we all may have had one or two hits in the past -- but we certainly still have a few more -- and perhaps bigger -- hits left in us.

Happy Birthday to us all!!!

"Now I'm not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short
And the days too fast."


  1. Well happy birthday to you! Those are some awesome thoughts. As I get older, I look for those accomplishments that people made when they'd reached beyond "youth."

    I came across a sign many, many years ago that I have tried to keep in my heart:

    Youth may be a thing of beauty, but age is a work of art. :)


  2. Thanks for your kind words, Vanessa.

    But what precisely does "Slainte" mean?

    Is that a Gaelic word?

    And if age is a work of art -- in my bloody late 40s, I'm a veritable Rembrandt.


  3. Yes, Slainte is Gaelic for cheers, or probably a more precise, "to your health." :) It's pronounced "slahn-chah."

    Well, I'm only a couple of years behind you, so I've waved youth a regretful farewell and am now focused myself on trying to think of that work of art thing. ;) Rembrandt sounds great to me! LOL


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