Now we are 46

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(Note: this title is a reference to the title of the A.A. Milne book of children’s poetry and its title poem Now We Are Six – not just me referring to myself with the royal “we.”)

46. There really doesn’t seem to be anything good about turning 46. It’s on the bad side of the 40s, aka the side closer to 50. You’re still in your mid 40s – which would be bad enough – but not by much. I mean, it feels like you’re barely clinging to them, by your fingernails.

How does the internet think I should I feel about turning 46, since that was so helpful last year?

First, in terms of what Google suggests for searches when you type in “age 46”…See that image at the top? That’s what comes up if you’re me. Seriously Google? Is this all you think I care about? It’s somewhat comforting that when Damon does this search, he gets the same top three — what year born, menopause and irregular periods — but then that also means that women and people who can’t subtract are the only people who care enough about turning 46 to search for it.

Then, what comes up when you go ahead and do the search is:

1) Images of famous, hot celebrities who are 46, of course. Except that they are George Clooney, who is 53, Courtney Cox, who is 50, and Brooke Shields who is 49 – they just were all pictured in articles containing the number 46 in the headline (“When It Comes to Appearance, Men Give Up First,” which tells us that men give up on their health and appearance at 46) and/or in pieces that appeared when they were 46 (“Famous Actresses Then and Now,” from 2010, and “Ten Celebrity Moms Who Have Crows Feet and Age Gracefully,” from 2011). It’s a reminder that we are all aging faster that the internet can keep up, and that Courtney Cox will always look better than me, even if she’s four years older.

2) Yet another article about how men let themselves go at age 46 (apparently this study was big news in the UK).

3) That list of celebrities my age that I wrote about last year (you can read what I wrote about it here if you’re curious).

4) An article from The Economist called “The U-bend of life: Why, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older.” Lest you think the news is all good, though, the quotable line from this article, highlighted as an inset, is, “People are least happy in their 40s and early 50s. They reach a nadir at a global average of 46.” So, overall forecast: it’s going to get better, but current mental state = nadir.

5) Daily News piece, whose headline literally tells the whole story: “Halle Berry opens up about ‘geriatric pregnancy’ at age 46, says she was ‘premenopausal.’” So, gorgeous star Halle Berry gets to have a baby at 46, and calls it geriatric. It’s like getting punched in the face twice.

6) A bunch of articles about people who died at 46: Utah lawmaker Becky Lockhart, Philip Seymour Hoffman, CNBC contributor and trader Rich Ilczyszyn.

Since the search for “age 46” is so much fun, what about a search for just the number 46?

Well, first, of course, the Wikipedia entry. In mathematics, “Forty-six is a Wedderburn-Etherington number, an enneagonal number and a centered triangular number,” which makes me feel extra stupid when I click on those links, read what they say, and then still don’t get what any of those those terms mean. In science, it’s the atomic number of palladium, the number of human chromosomes, and the approximate molar mass of ethanol — which is the first interesting thing I’ve read so far that doesn’t hurt my feelings. And other random facts: 46 is the number of books in the Old Testament if the Book of Lamentations is counted separate from the Book of Jeremiah; the number of peaks in the Adirondack Mountain Range (not counting the unofficial 47th peak); the international calling code for Sweden; the number of Samurai who carried out the attack in the historical Ako vendetta in the 17th century and then committed seppuku (one of the 47 Ronin turned back); the number that unlocks the Destiny spaceship in Stargate Universe; and the number depicted on the first flag of Oklahoma, the 46th state to join the union. And that’s…kind of it, which is unusual. Apparently, even to Wikipedia, 46 is lame.

Returning to the Google search, the next couple of entries for “46” are Maker’s 46 (the bourbon), a handful of establishments with 46 in the name (because they are all on 46th St), and P.S. 46 in Brooklyn. Then there’s New York City Council Member Alan Maisel of District 46, which encompasses a large swath of South Brooklyn that includes Mill Basin, Bergen Beach and Canarsie; and New York State Assembly District 46, led by Alec Brook-Krasny, which includes Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. Then there’s U.S. Code Title 46, which has to do with shipping; California Proposition 46, otherwise known as the Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors; and the Federalist Papers: #46, in which James Madison seeks “to inquire whether the federal government or the State governments will have the advantage with regard to the predilection and support of the people.“ Then there is a DJ duo called Project 46, which “has made an undeniable impact on the progressive house scene this year” according to their Facebook page.; a 46” Samsung LED television on sale Best Buy; the latest breaking news in Atlanta on CBS 46; and “46 Questions Every Twentysomething Still Asks Their Mom” on Buzzfeed, which include How the fuck do I cook rice?, Can you look at a picture of my throat?, and What’s that place I always used to get my haircut? Once we’re on page four of the search, we get a story on how Obama’s approval rating is up to 46%; details about a 46 degree radius halo in the Arctic at a site called Atmospheric Optics (including this important note: “But – If you see a fragment of a very large coloured halo twice as far from the sun as the everyday 22°, it may not be a 46° halo!”); and the site of UA Local 46, whose motto is, “Superior piping skills since 1890.”

But then, on search page five, I found this post on Reddit from a 46-year-old banker in Australia who’s having a major midlife crisis, with the headline, “TIFU. More my whole life really.” He details how he’s spent the past 25 years working 10 hours a day, six days a week, and now he doesn’t know his son and his wife is cheating on him, and he’s never done anything that he’s wanted to do. Then there are the comments: “You can change. I am 50 now and I was like you…”; “Hear hear! A year ago, I was a 39 year old corporate lawyer, overweight and depressed…”; and best of all, “I haven’t been being me, at least not the person I used to be or desired to become, since I was about 15. Now I’m 23. I feel like I wasted my teenage years.” A reminder that anyone at any age can have a midlife crisis.

Or not. In spite of all this, the day just felt…kind of like a normal day, for once. I didn’t have a major case of the midlife blues. There are things that I wish I’d done and things I wish I’d done better, but I definitely am not looking back on a life wasted doing nothing. I’ve done a lot of stuff. And I’d like to have some things I don’t have, but I’m not really looking back and saying “Where did it all go?” I know where it all went, for the most part, and I’ve got some pretty good memories about it. Overall, I’d rather just ignore the birthday, but I think that’s better than how I usually feel, which is that I have to celebrate it to avoid feeling pathetic. This year? Eh, whatevs.

Sometimes a birthday is just a day. Or maybe that only happens when you turn 46.

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am forty-six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be forty-six
now and forever.

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