So here we are.
I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first saw black birthday balloons on someone’s mailbox during a Saturday headed-to-another-garage-sale drive, but I know I was young and/or naïve enough to wonder if that wasn’t gonna be the best funeral ever.
And as the Reagan era marched along and the boomers-turned-yuppies waved their flags extra fast due to cocaine jitters and decided that blisters and foot odor were small prices to pay for style in the form of sockless loafers, more black balloons appeared on suburban mailboxes, accompanied by matching streamers, bunting, and yard signs, all screaming the same slogan:
“LORDY LORDY, SOMEONE’S 40!”
The proliferation of Over-the-Hill birthday decorations was my introduction to gallows humor. Oh, I get it, I thought, like an alien observing some new planet’s civilization, they’re laughing about the fact that the birthday boy’s/girl’s life is over! That’s funny and sad! Like a clown! Which is appropriate for a birthday!