Monday, January 29, 2007

Thirty-five years, port and cigars, and the harlequin's disturbing package

I am now thirty-five years old, and wondering exactly when that happened. I certainly don't feel thirty-five; every time I think of my age, I have a little anxiety attack in which I think to myself that I haven't been doing anything with my life ... at which point I have to remind myself about the whole PhD thing and the tenure-track job. That doesn't seem entirely real yet though; I've come to the conclusion that grad school functions as a sort of extended adolescence, and when you finally get gainful employment -- which, society has been telling on a not-so-subliminal level should be happening in your mid-twenties -- the fact of that employment seems out of whack with your actual age.

Thanks to everyone who offered me birthday wishes in my previous post, and for everyone who called or emailed yesterday ... and let me wish a belated happy birthday to Rebecca, and an early happy birthday to my old friend Susan, who joins me in the 35-club on Friday.

One of the annoying things about turning 35? I can no longer refer to myself as being in my "early 30s," which of course I was doing up until Saturday ... I will now be mid-thirties until January 27th, 2012 ...

I celebrated making it halfway to 70 (seven-twentieths of a century!) by going out on Saturday with friends to the Duke of Duckworth, and drinking rather a lot. And in spite of my prohibition against the bringing of gifts, Danine and Jamie gave me a lovely bottle of port, and Nancy and Marco a rather splendid Cohiba. Port and cigars! A rather serendipitous pair of gifts, which I enjoyed yesterday evening. My gift to myself yesterday was a day of doing no work, of watching DVDs, and cooking myself a nice meal. I had settled on doing a prime rib roast, but the grocery store, annoyingly, did not have any ... so I had to resort to plan B, which was beef tenderloin. Beef tenderloin, roasted potatoes and asparagus, and grilled radicchio. Not bad, if I do say so.

And after dinner I treated myself to a few rounds of my current favourite computer game, a Risk-like nineteenth-century warfare game in which, yesterday, I was playing as the British Empire. I felt very British indeed, sipping port, smoking the cigar and kicking Napoleonic ass the hell out of Spain and Portugal. Good times.

Speaking of good times, Saturday night certainly was ... I love getting somewhat drunk with my friends here, not least because the conversations invariably take the most bizarre turns. Those of my in-town readers familiar with the Duke of Duckworth will also be familiar with the creepy-ass lamp they have in the back corner, where we'd plunked ourselves on Saturday night. The lamp is a very disturbing statue of a commedia del'arte-style harlequin with his arms folded over his chest and his hips thrust forward such that whoever sits in that corner, should he or she glance back over their shoulder, is presented with the harlequin's crotch (garbed of course in skin-tight tights) at eye level.

It takes one's fear of clowns to an entirely new level.

Anyway, much of the evening was spent laughing about the harlequin's disturbing package, and I kept thinking to myself "I have to replicate this conversation on my blog." Alas, age and alcohol intervened and, while I remember having the conversation, the details escape me. Except for the bit when we speculated on what superhero or supervillain the harlequin with the lamp in his head might be. Or would he be a sidekick? And would his disturbing package be the source of his super-powers? And would he sound like Hugh Grant, or more like Peter Lorre?

For those who wonder what kind of genteel intellectual discussions English professors have over drinks ...

10 comments:

b said...

happy belated birthday.

Iceman said...

Do you know why cannibals won't eat clowns?

They taste funny!

Lesley said...

Happy Birthday! And you're right, age is just a number. At least that's what I'm going with as I approach my mid 30's.

Adam Riggio said...

Dude – stick a pig on the leg of the commedia dell'arte porno lamp, and it's The Deadly Bulb, from The Tick.

Jennie said...

Happy belated birthday! I started up a history blog called "out of the ivory tower." You should check it out and consider writing for it....

http://out-of-the-ivory-tower.blogspot.com/

maximus decimus meridious said...

happy belated birthday, a short present for you:

hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly

hold fast to dreams
for if dreams go
life is a barren field
frozen with snow
-l. hughes

and so it lives on . . . the legacy of learning and growth.

barks said...

I own a lamp just as you've described, harlequin statue, folded arms...I thought I had the only one. Can you share any additional information about where you saw it? Who owns it?

Anonymous said...

Well, it's nice to see that someone with a degree feels that he's done nothing with his life. Just remember there are a lot of people who feel that way. You also have to ask yourself, have you really done nothing with your life or is that that you have not met your desires, or your own expectations for yourself? You seem well educated, so I would think that you haven't just sat around all your life waiting for something to happen. I would suggest not to dwell on the subject. It will only make you depressed and you will not be able to get out of it's grips - personal experience.

Ernestine said...

oi great i know it is late and now you are 37 year experience. it is great. i like the person like you by which we can get great cigars like cuban cigars.

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