I turned 30 last week. Exactly a week ago, to be… exact. I don’t think it was a big deal. I don’t know if I was ever the type to think 30 was a big deal. Maybe if I was the kind of person who expected to be married with a baby by the time I was 30 and I also wasn’t married with a baby, 30 would have felt like something. But I am married with a baby, and I am also not that kind of person. So. Nothing, really.
While I never really had any specific goals that I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30 (the failure to accomplish certain goals is what I assume makes 30 feel like a THING for some people), I guess when I was younger I always assumed things about 30, in the same way that younger people assume things about older people. I don’t know if I can really put my finger on anything specific, but when I was in college, or just out of college – I was still living in my college apartment, and I dated this guy – I’ve talked about him, he had a really square head. Square Head Kyle. And he was a bit older than me – as close to 30 as I still was to 20, I think. And while I didn’t bow down before him, all wide-eyed at his wisdom and experience, I kind of just assumed things. Like when he bought a car, I was like, yeah, that makes sense. He’s a grown up. He can buy a car.
But then you get to be 25 or 26 or 27 and you buy a car or you do whatever it is that made sense, and it’s like yanking back the curtain. The whole getting older experience is like reliving that scene from the Wizard of Oz, year after year. “HEY, IT’S JUST SOME SCHMUCK BACK HERE.” And then you, too, are that schmuck.
I’m not a big believer in bucket lists. I mean, no offense meant if that’s your thing, but I can’t get my mind to that place where they make any kind of sense. Maybe I’m not a goal-oriented person. Maybe I want to see what comes in life on its own. Maybe I think the recent Internetization of the concept of a “life list” by certain sectors has made the whole thing seem like kind of a ridiculous and exaggerated joke of itself. Maybe it’s pretty likely to be that last one.
Regardless, I have expectations of 30. Expectations I had long before I was 30, and expectations I developed as 30 approached. Not that I assumed that when I woke up 30, these things would happen or be. Just things that I expect that, along the way TO 30, a person will know or do or gather in some way. There are things that I feel that the schmuck behind the 30 curtain should have to offer as a person. And I will tell you about them.
A person who is 30 should be able to put a meal on the table. I’m not saying anything about affording a meal or providing for a family. And I’m not saying that every 30 year old should be able to cook. I’m saying if you’ve made it all the way to 30, you should be capable of throwing down dinner without talking into a speaker. Maybe you can cook. Maybe you’re more like me and rely heavily on frozen Stouffer’s and steam in the bag vegetables. Maybe you know a really good catering place and are exceptional at placing food artfully on plates. I don’t know and I don’t care how you do it. I don’t care how OFTEN you do it. But when the situation arises, a 30 year old should be able to pull some edible shit together.
A person who is 30 should know that there are truly very few things in life that they HAVE to do. You don’t have to get the puff in your eyeballs when you go to the eye doctor if you don’t want to. You don’t have to wear make up if it’s not your thing. You don’t have to date anyone or get married or have kids. You don’t have to buy a house if you like renting. You don’t have to like everyone. You don’t have to accept every invitation that comes your way. You don’t have to be solely responsible for the happiness of anyone else. That last one is what will make you have a lot of regrets, I think.
A person who is 30 should be over getting affronted at Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/What the shit ever. I don’t care if you don’t celebrate Christmas or you don’t have any holidays in this “season” or if you’re the asshole everyone secretly hates, the one who always wants to “helpfully” inform you of why what you just said or did is offensive to someone, somewhere, in some obscure way. Do you plan to exist throughout December? You do? WELL, I AM WISHING FOR YOU THAT YOU ENJOY IT. Grow up. Seriously. I’m hoping that you’re freaking merry on December 25, whatever the hell you decide to do with yourself that day. No one stabbed you in the eyeball. They wished you well. Walk on and forget about it. Dick.
A person who is 30 should be VERY AWARE of how small a part of his general surroundings he is. That means knowing that the world is not revolving around you at any given moment. You shouldn’t still be placing yourself at the center of the universe in all ways. Like when you block the whole grocery store aisle with your cart. Or when you encroach upon the time of others without even thinking about it. When you expect to move to the front of the line/get extra days off/leave early/get free stuff because you have a child. I don’t know. This covers a lot. A person who is 30 should probably have figured out how to move around in the world without trying to force it to move around her.
A person who is 30 should be able to buy/make/offer a thoughtful gift, even with only a little bit or none money. Of course it is easy and often the best idea to grab a Starbucks gift card for the office holiday gift swap, or to buy local store gift cards for teachers, or that kind of stuff. But for people you know, you should know by now how to do a little research, ask a few pointed questions, and take some time out of your busy life to THINK about it instead of running through the aisles of Target and grabbing whatever looks good at the last second. It’s not always possible, of course, but you should know how. Like a book on a favored topic, or an offer of free babysitting, or something they mentioned one time that you remember that you know they won’t even remember that you remember. You can do that by now.
A person who is 30 should be able to tolerate inconvenience but also advocate for herself. If something doesn’t go your way, it always sucks, but by 30, you shouldn’t be that guy anymore. The one shrieking at a poor underling with no power, making everyone in the place uncomfortable. No one likes that guy. I know there are still a lot of That Guy over 30, but I think by 30 he should at least know he’s being a total knob. But at the same time, you shouldn’t still be bending over and taking it when someone or some company or whatever does wrong by you. That’s kind of weenie, and no one is going to jump up and do it for you. You should be able to make your case yourself and ask for resolution. In whatever situation – business, personal, whatever. You shouldn’t be a dick or a weenie. Ha. Two penis references.
I guess there’s probably a lot more stuff that I would expect the schmuck behind the curtain to know by now, but I can’t go on forever (I probably could, you know me). What do you think?