Oh, to be young again. Honestly, I don’t really think about getting older, but I’m reminded of it on various occasions. When I pour Liquid Plumber down the shower drain, for example. Or when someone’s talking to me and I cup the back of my ear in order to hear them. God, I wish I were joking.

But it’s not just hair loss and manual hearing aids. There are other indicators, like the mail. I’m 34 now, which means it’s a toss up on what I receive more: bills, credit card applications, or wedding invitations. It’s a three-way tie most times because I’m in a very coveted age bracket. I’m not quite sure how the brackets work, but I think it goes like this…for a few years (age 18-35), everyone targets you for business and parties. Then the next thing you know, you’re in the 36-50 range, automatically making you unpopular to everyone except pharmaceutical companies. The only invitation you get at that point is the one to ask your doctor about a disease that didn’t even exist a month ago, but now has specific medication.

For now, the wedding notices are just as prevalent as the credit card bills, which coincidentally get larger the more wedding gifts I purchase. It’s common for couples (that is to say, brides) to register for things they’d like to receive as gifts. Men are never involved in this process. In fact, if you fold a gift registry into the shape of a conch and hold it to your ear, you can hear a woman saying, “This is not a game. Now give me the scanner and let’s look at dinnerware and towel racks!” If men could register, we’d see other items included, like football season tickets, a survival weekend with Jack Bauer, or a fancy machine that rates how funny his farts are.

My personal favorite part of buying a wedding gift is when the store wraps it and includes a gift receipt, meaning one that doesn’t indicate the price of an item the bride picked out herself and therefore already knows how much it is. Am I missing the point of the gift receipt? Do some brides really unwrap a present and say, “Hey…it’s that Sausalito earthenware setting we had our eye on at Pottery Barn! The one that I chose after looking at each design and scanning it personally with a laser gun. I’m glad they took the tag off, because I won’t know the price until I check the elaborately detailed list of things that I wanted my friends to buy me. Here it is. Dinner setting…check. Now all we need is 23 more of those and we can have company over. Thanks, Keith and guest!”

Not all my friends are married yet. However, while I still have a few buddies hanging on to single life, I can tell they want to settle down. Before I continue, I will admit that I’m not the know-it-all of being in love. I thought I knew what it was once, but it was just a six-pack and a Simpsons marathon. I have no authority on the issue, but I still enjoy hearing about my friends’ pursuits of romance and then writing about them.

My friend Michelle, for example, has had a boyfriend her whole life. Not the same guy the whole time, but someone. She’s the type who cannot be single. Ever. Having a boyfriend is such a necessity, she won’t break up with a guy until she gets a new one. With that “relationship overlap”, she doesn’t spend a single second “alone”. It’s like quitting an office job, but only after securing another position somewhere else. The language is similar too… “I don’t like Ray anymore, even if he does have quality benefits. I really need a change, so I’m looking for something else. Like, seriously looking. My profile’s on a few websites and I have a lot of references. I hope to meet with some prospects while Ray’s out of town.” And so on. Once Michelle gets married, I will congratulate her on securing tenure.

Then there’s Jesse, who falls in love about as often as Spike TV plays a Rocky movie, and in every case he gets a beat down like Stallone. Poor guy. Jesse is one of my closest buds, but sometimes I think he wants to find love so bad, that he convinces himself something’s there when it’s not. Like a UFO enthusiast, only more giddy. While I think it’s possible for aliens and love to exist, there could also be other explanations as well. When he tells me, “Keith, I found the girl. This is true love!” I can’t help but respond like the level-headed Agent Scully on the X-Files. “Is it really love? Maybe it’s a weather balloon. I’m not suggesting it isn’t love, Jesse, but let’s explore the possibility of faulty film, the northern lights, or maybe even swamp gas before we jump to conclusions.” I’m not trying to rain on his cheer, but whenever a woman dumps him for a jerk with money, I show up like the men in black. “You didn’t see anything, sir. Let’s move it along now.”

I know, I know…I’m a cynical old codger. That’s right, I just used the word codger, which means I’m officially getting up there, dag nabbit.

My smartass commentary does not, however, transcend my hopes and genuine well wishes for all the couples out there. Maybe Michelle and Jesse will meet and get married, which means one more gift for me to buy before I move on to the stage in life when I ask my doctor about acid reflux and restless leg syndrome.

Before I forget, the fancy machine that rates fart hilarity…don’t get any ideas, people. That patent is pending.

Categories: Columns