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A Not So Surprise Party
I just finished celebrating my surprise 50th birthday party

Wayne’s World
by Wayne Chan

Sorry, let me correct that.  The party wasn’t actually on my birthday, but a few days earlier.  Also, it wasn’t exactly a complete surprise, since my wife Maya actually asked me if I wanted to have a surprise birthday party.  

You heard that right.  Maya, the love of my life, and one of the most impressive persons I’ve ever met, also doesn’t have a clue as far as how to put on a surprise party.  

If I remember correctly, the exact words she used with me a few weeks ago were, “I know this is kind of awkward, but do you want to have a surprise birthday party next month?”

If I remember correctly, the exact words I used in my response to her question were, “Wait a second.  Where’s my notebook with my list of lamest questions I’ve ever heard.  I’ve got a doozy.”

So, to be technically correct, last week we celebrated my “not really a surprise, surprise birthday party (that wasn’t actually celebrated on my birthday)”.  I know, not the catchiest name for a celebration.  

Having said that, I had a blast.  Most of my friends and family were there to celebrate and since my 50th birthday coincided with the Beatles historic show on the Ed Sullivan Show and with the Beatles being my absolute favorite band, everyone dressed in their best colorful hippy attire.

Everything was perfect, from the catered food to all the tie dyed t-shirts to the endless run of Beatles music blaring in the background.  Everything was perfect until...

Well, everything was perfect until the cake was rolled out with a big 5-0 candle lit up and someone there asked me, “So how does it feel to be half a century old?”

I was speechless - not because I had nothing to say, but because of all the things I was thinking.

The idea of turning 50, the concept of turning 50 was just that - a concept.  It’s always seemed so far away, some distant milestone that was so far out in the horizon that it was something that I wouldn’t have to consider for a long, long time.  Turning 50 was something that happened to other people, not me.

It’s not that I haven’t put any thought into it.  Of course I’ve thought about it.  The problem is, what I’ve thought about my 50th year of existence has never been anything good.

By the age of 50, I figured that I’d have broken a hip by now.  I figured that I’d be playing a lot of golf and all of a sudden, I’d find that wearing purple and brown plaid golf pants were really fashionable.  I figured I’d be chasing kids away from my front lawn with a cane in one hand and a water hose in the other.  I figured I’d be using words like “Dagnabbit!”, “High Falutin’” and “Back in the day” a lot.  I figured that I’d have annual subscription tickets to see the opera every Sunday afternoon by now.   I figured that I’d have forgotten how to set the clock on my VCR, and worse yet, THAT I’D STILL OWN A VCR.

The funny thing is, none of those things have happened.  In fact, in the last year I decided to get back in shape, and I’ve lost over 30 pounds, I feel better and seem to have more energy than I’ve had since I was in my 30’s. Of course, I’ve noticed some changes.  When I was in my teens, I could eat five pork chops and inhale a big bowl of fried rice and not gain a pound.  Now, if I open the fridge and happen to see a pork chop inside, I immediately gain three pounds.  

When I played tennis as a teenager, I would play a three-hour match without doing any warm-ups or stretching and then immediately go off to play some basketball.  Now, just to keep myself from pulling a hamstring, I stretch so much before tennis I look like I’m doing the “Nutcracker ballet” wearing white shorts and a headband.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff.  The saying, “Older but wiser” rings true to me.  Maya and I are talking about places we’d like to visit in the next year.  My kids are growing up and are just starting to see some big changes on their horizon - college, marriage, and some day hopefully, kids.  It’s an exciting time for them, and for me, I’m excited for them.

I may be at the mid-point of my life, but in many ways, it feels like it’s just beginning.

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