EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the August 29, 2005, issue of National Review.
One month ago, when I was still in my thirties, a kind friend said to me in a voice both convincing and cheerful, “Hey! So you’re turning forty! That’s cool! ‘Cause you know, forty is the new thirty!”
Which really worked, actually. I mean, I bought it. Until last weekend, when I was walking along the beach and passed a young, fit guy in his twenties wearing a T-shirt stenciled with a slogan in thick black lettering. “Forty,” it read, “Is NOT the New Thirty.”
Highly specific cruelty is always the most effective kind of cruelty, of course, and in a way, the people who make and market that particular T-shirt are doing us all a great service by nipping this forty-is-the-new-thirty thing in the bud. Apparently there are enough people who think that forty is the new thirty to have inspired a nasty backlash–complete with t-shirts–from people who, from the looks of them, are probably not quite thirty themselves, and maybe want to enjoy being thirty without being crowded and jostled by a bunch of forty-year-olds who are refusing to leave the stage.
This is all a roundabout way of saying that if you’re a little sensitive about the creeping ravages of time–and hey, the Reaper comes for all of us–you may just want to prepare yourself before you tune into Al Gore’s new cable channel, Current.
I spent a weekend dipping in and out of it–it’s not widely available, but it’s carried by DirecTV–and was reminded more than a few times that as a forty-year-old man, I am over.
“Some of you may be too young to remember,” chirped attractive Amaya Brecher as she introduced a recent segment, “I mean, I remember it only from retrospectives on TV, but an assassination attempt was made on President Ronald Reagan’s life in 1981.” 1981! I was 15 then; we got out of classes and stuff to watch it. Whaddya mean you don’t remember it? Six weeks ago I wouldn’t have noticed the passive-aggressive malevolence of an introduction like that, but after a few moments of watching Current, it’s clear that it’s less a cable news channel and more a Lord of the Flies situation. In which I am very much Piggy . . .
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