When I turned 20, it didn’t occur to me that when my father was that age, I had already been born. Perhaps it was because, at the time, I was preoccupied with things like how to clear up my acne and tell my parents that not only was I no longer interested in community college, but that I was definitely interested in my friend Rick. I turned 39 last week. And I had a very present awareness that when my father was that age, he was busy dealing with me and all the things I mentioned above. Needless to say, my year as a 39-year-old will probably be quite different than his.
I realize now, as many of us must have along the way, that it’s not the aging process itself that I fear. I do my best to only fear things which I have a moderate amount of control over, like icky spiders and abdominal fat. But I realize it is the stigma of age that I fear most. When people ask my age, it’s not the number that scares me, but their reaction.
“Oh. Wow. Well, you don’t look 39,” they say reassuringly, as if I should be grateful not to look like what I actually am; as if they are really saying, “Oh. Wow. You don’t look like you’re basically just about half way through your life.”
While I have not let this cause me to lie about my age, I have taken to speaking about it in a fashion which some may call convoluted. I was happy to turn thirty. And it was always easy to say I was in my early thirties. So easy that I did it until I was 35. I was then forced by sheer mathematical logic to claim my mid-thirties. I continued this for a few years.
At 37, I began to refer to myself as being in my “early-late thirties”, which is not too far a stretch of the imagination: if your late thirties are from 37 through 39, then 37 is obviously the early part of that period. Following this logic, 38 was obviously my “mid-late thirties.” The logic, however, has turned against me this year. I’m not terribly fond of the way “late-late thirties” sounds. So I think I’m just going to say 39. It’s a good number. Divisible by 13, which everyone knows is lucky.
It’s a milestone. Or rather, it’s the eve of the milestone of turning 40. It’s the last year before officially embracing being called “middle-aged.” I think I might like the sound of “early-middle aged.”
Joe Hutcheson is a writer, actor, teacher, and solo performer living in New York City. Raised in California, Joe received a BFA in Theatre from Cal State Fullerton and an MFA in Acting from the University of Florida. He also spent a summer in London studying Shakespeare and the classics at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
Since moving to New York City, Joe has written and produced several solo plays, including Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown (FringeNYC 2010 Overall Excellence Award, Critics’ Pick of the 2011 Cincinnati Fringe Award) which has appeared in several theaters in and out of NYC including the Times Square Art Center, the Cherry Lane Theatre, and the Know Theatre of Cincinnati.
More information and reviews about these shows can be found at www.JoeHutcheson.com. Joe has taught for Rosie’s Theatre Kids (NYC), the Professional Performing Arts School (NYC), Red Mountain Theatre Company (Birmingham, AL), and Borough of Manhattan Community College. Joe is also a certified yoga instructor.