Valentine’s Day, 1987. Michael Bolton croons from a Dolby, mattress springs squeak in protest, and a fast swimmer beats out millions of competitors to stage a successful kamikaze attack on a Death Star of an egg.
This egg soon morphs into a fetus and nine months later said fetus emerges into this world as a human child. What was once just a child eventually becomes a man, and today that man turns 27.
I’ve now been alive since young people thought perms looked good and Ronald Reagan was wearing sweatpants on Air Force One.
As of press time I have spent 27 years on a massive blue ball that spins at 1,000 miles per hour, and I have yet to be thrown off. I have also now put in 27 complete laps around a giant exploding star for total mileage of 15.7 billion miles, and my pace has remained steady throughout. You don’t even need to tell me I’m a badass, I already know.
Of course by this point the charm of a birthday has been substantially diluted. I mean, 27. Fuck. In most cases 27 is a high number. Years at a job, how many people your spouse squeaked mattress springs with before you. This birthday feels like the 27th installment in a movie franchise that used to be exciting. You take notice when a new one comes out but the cyclical redundancy of it all mutes your enthusiasm. You feel like you’ve seen it before and the older installments were better anyway. At least it’s a reminder you didn’t die over the last year.
The thing about being in your 20s is that while you joke about being OMG so old lol you still, because your face is still smooth, quietly view yourself as the newcomer, the upstart, the rebel who’s shaking up the game. The freshest face in the office, the young buck who’s here to change shit up.
When you’re 22 and 23 you still have a little unspoken license to be a dickhead and not know how to fill out a 1040 EZ form. But 27 has a different heft to it. At that point you better have your ducks in a goddamn row. You’re out of the mid- 20s and have crossed a Rubicon of sorts. Come on man, act your fucking age. People your age have founded and sold multi-billion dollar companies. At 27 it’s hard to think of yourself as the kid or the rookie anymore, especially when you remember that guys have won Super Bowls at 23 and that there were 22 year-old brigadier generals in World War II. Even if you’re a shit-hot American Psycho Wall Street investment banker at 27 you’re still surrounded by baby faces who graduated from Yale 10 minutes ago. And Zuckerburg stole Facebook when he was what, like 7? We worship youth and so the older you get, the less impressive anything you do is.
Anyway. Plans for the next year? Same old hustle. Teach, travel, write, work out, play some guitar.
I was told that on the night of my conception there was protection involved, but I guess I was the swimmer who just speared that latex barrier like a moron when those in the lanes next to me hit the brakes in panic. I’m still the same today. I just sort of bore through life like a dumb ox or a Sherman tank stuck in low gear. Slowly figuring shit out. Not making huge amounts of progress, but moving nonetheless. I don’t quit when there are roadblocks or barriers. Not because I’m better than anyone else, it’s that I have ADD and can’t sit on a couch or my mind will fall into a spiral of self-loathing and then self-destruct if I’m not working on something. This is unhealthy. This is why I can never get married and raise a brood of little Coltons, because I can’t sit on a couch and talk to someone. I wish I could sit on a couch, because hanging out and connecting with other humans is 90% sitting on couches. You have to be good at it.
Whether it’s running or biking real fast, writing a scene I’m genuinely proud of, or chasing skirt, victories are rare. But I’m like the New York Giants: every so often I stumble into a championship despite myself. I’ll take it. You guys are coming to my party right. Rooftop of Seoul’s Shilla Hotel. Dancing panda bears, fountains with ice statues of naked Greek gods that shoot water out of their penises. Dress formally and please make every effort to be there by 11:00 pm. The bouncers will eject late arrivals from the rooftop, making their best effort to aim for the Han River, but their ‘roided up muscles are hard to control so they don’t always succeed.