take a ch-ch-ch-chance



my 5th birthday

I always write these blogs late at night, so by the time you read this, it will be my birthday. I’m turning thirty-seven years old today, an age so bizarre-sounding that you have to write it out: “thirty-seven.” This means I am no longer “in my mid-thirties” – in fact, some people would call it “pushing forty.” I remember a long time ago, my brother Kent was telling me that the band members of XTC (whom this blog is named after) were “pushing forty,” and I thought that seemed unbelievably depressing.

Of course, Kent himself provides an excellent scout to the lands ten years ahead of me – he’s like Achilles’ ship in “Troy,” seeking out the decades before I get there. By my definition, he’s “pushing fifty” and he still rock and/or rolls every night and parties every day.

Ten or eleven years ago, I was part of an online community on Usenet that was a vibrant, electric and eclectic discussion of all things Generation X, and the time came when the eldest members were about to turn 30. It was a really big issue for all of us, but I decided that I was going to embrace 30 for all it had to give.

Turned out 30 had to give existential dread and moments of suicide contemplation, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.


my 20th birthday – note Sean’s super-mullet at far left, and my clear Swatch

Now, at 37, most people will tell you how they are in the best shape of their lives, and how they never felt so good, and how everything seems to be falling into place. I think that’s a lot of wishful hooey – I have to stretch like crazy after the first hoops game or else I will seize up like an old Datsun with no oil, and I can’t fucking drink anymore because the hangovers are SO NOT WORTH IT.

But I will cop to two things: things do seem to be falling into place, and I still look relatively young. Bad skin and stupid hair, as I always say, will keep you fresh in the eye of your beholders. People who look at me these days think “no self-respecting 37-year-old would have hair that stupid.” I still get carded.

Sixteen years ago tonight, I drove to the all-night liquor store in Arcadia (only a few miles from here) and bought my first legal liquor: two airplane bottles of Absolut. Tonight, I went to a similar store in Santa Monica and bought a Forbidden Coke and a Zantac. Perhaps that’s telling, but fuck that Coke tastes good. I have reverted to the simpler pleasures of my tenth and eleventh birthday, and it feels wonderful.


a few minutes after midnight tonight, in the car

0 thoughts on “take a ch-ch-ch-chance

  1. sean

    I’ll have it be known that I was the first one to wish Ian a happy birthday, at 9:02 Pacific Time, 12:02 Eastern Standard. Jordana sang a long and arduous rendition of Happy Birthday, as if it were a jazz standard, and Ian had to sit through it the way I’ve had to sit through her mother singing it to me every year. They have lovely voices, but it’s hard to know what to do with yourself during the six minutes it takes for them to sing the whole song.

  2. Laurie

    Happy Birthday, Ian!!
    I am one of those who claim that 37 is the best!! I’m only 5 months into it, and, so far, it’s been one action-packed romp.
    and Congrats.

  3. Piglet

    For some reason, I figured you were a couple of years older than I. turns out you’re a couple weeks younger instead. I turned 37 on May 8th. And yes, while i didn’t consider the birthday itself a particular milestone, it did seem like things were falling into place and everything was going to be just peachy.
    Early this week though, there was an incredible bummer that maybe I’ll talk about some time when it isn’t your birthday. Now I just feel no longer young.
    Hope you get just the euphoria.

  4. Greg

    Hippo Birdy two ewe… (sorry, too much time spent reading children’s books lately)
    My wife (RTVMP ’89) turns 37 in 3 weeks and 1 day, so we’re watching you carefully to see how it goes.

  5. Bud

    Happy birthday, ‘old dude.’ Great picture.
    I’d plum forgot, else I might’ve got you a rump roast or something.

  6. kmeelyon

    Funny about the coke and zantac being your wild celebration. Just this weekend, I was at a brunch and I said I was gonna be a bit wild and drink some coffee. Then I laughed and said, “I remember when being wild meant dosing in social studies.” I guess I’m getting older. Happy Birthday, Ian.

  7. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Happy birthday. I have one question: do you have any gray hair yet??? Doesn’t look like you do. I will be 36 next month, my hair is red (although not as red as the Williams red), and I have been going gray like nobody’s business. I thought redheads were supposed to be the last to turn gray. Hmmm. Perhaps it is parenthood that has aged me! If you head into that stage (you are pushing 40, you know!), you’ll have to test my theory. Have a happy day.

  8. Lisa

    whoops –sorry about the TRIPLE posting… my browser choked (repeatedly) and I didn’t know if my post … er… posted. I guess that means you should have a birthday 3 times as good as I initially intended…

  9. michelle

    Happy Dippy Doodie, Ian! I hope you like my very quiet singing (I am at work after all). I guess you won’t be drinking tequila after all, but hells bells, enjoy that coke. And get your butt up here.

  10. Dexter

    Happy bday Ian! Happy 37 laps around the sun, that’s all it is, as long you have that freaky orange lettuce on your head and your writing and wit you will be good to go, maybe a little too reliant on the pharms, you need some good psilo and other organics, IMO great mental enema every so often, you’ll need one on your transition back to “cut with knife humid midsummer night’s sweat” back here on the east coast
    remember that Larry Miller bit:
    You BECOME 21! but you TURN 30, he turned so we had to throw him out, you are PUSHING 40, no, no, stay over there, and you MAKE IT to 50, glad he made it
    I think strict denial is the key, I just had to do the math to figure out I was turning 36 in a couple of months. I was blithely unaware of my age for at least a few minutes there :-)
    Finally, I LOVE the plain weiners on the plate at your 5th, could we have survived birthdays in the 70’s without hot dogs and kool aid?

  11. litlnemo

    Happy birthday Ian! 37 isn’t so bad… at least from the perspective of one who turned 39 just last Thursday.
    (It’s not possible. 39? Me? No. Baby Boomers are 39! I can’t be 39!)
    Ahem. Apparently my subconscious still thinks it’s 1987. I think I will go listen to the Replacements or something.

  12. Annie

    Well, even though I fricking missed it (reminded myself 3 x yesterday) the huppiest of burfdaze to you…yes, we are in the zone unknown, betwixt youth and age, not quite either. Yet, I too am happier than I’ve ever been (except maybe ages 5-8). Certainly life seems to improve in this adulthood. And I’m unspeakably lucky to still count you as a dear friend after ten years!!
    love and more love


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.