published Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Fortune: There’s something powerfully funny about my 40s


by Mary Fortune

If you have ever seen an episode of “Regular Show,” then you know something about why I love being in my 40s.

“Regular Show” is dumb. It’s a primitive, lowbrow cartoon about a blue jay and a raccoon who are slacker groundskeepers at a rundown little park and the ludicrous adventures they have as they attempt to avoid responsibility and get along with their bizarre coworkers. Their boss is a mean-tempered gumball machine. One of their colleagues is a talking goat.

Y’all, it’s just so, so dumb.

I never would have watched this show in a million years if I did not have two sons, ages 9 and 13, who think “Regular Show” is hysterical. Every Monday evening, we sit together and watch a new, dumb episode. It’s so dumb that I cannot adequately describe its dumbness.

We love it. We laugh and laugh. The kids think it’s hilarious that I think it’s hilarious. They won’t start watching it until I get there.

There was a time when I would have deemed this show too dumb to watch. I am, after all, a fully grown human with a pretty good education, a demanding job and an Outlook calendar full of conflicting, color-coded meetings and deadlines. But something wonderful has happened to me as I’ve eased out of my 30s and settled firmly into my 40s: I don’t care.

I don’t care that it’s dumb, and that it’s definitely too dumb for me to watch. Doesn’t matter. I like it. The kids like it. It cracks us up, so we watch it — and then I write about it in the newspaper because that’s how much I don’t care. Not a bit. You can even think I’m dumb for watching it. I don’t mind.

Life is both too short and too long to spend it worrying about whether something is too dumb to indulge. Life is both too short and too long to miss an opportunity to laugh at something dumb with my kids, who love nothing more than to see me laugh at something dumb. So I watch “Regular Show.” Every single week. (My favorite episode is the transcendently ridiculous “Death Bear” if you want to look it up online.)

One of my dearest friends, whom I met when we were sweet, clueless college kids, recently turned 40. We had cake and hugs and sat around marveling that we’ve been friends for half our lives. And I told her something that might only start to make sense as she gets a handle on that new, round number: Sister, welcome to the height of your powers.

The truth about 40 is that it’s the reward for surviving a couple of decades of very heavy lifting. My friends and I spent our 20s figuring out who we are and what matters to us. We spent our 30s using that information to build our careers and start our families. And now we know who we are, what we want and how to get it. We know how to be useful, how to be confident, how to find our way around strange cities in rental cars, how to negotiate the raises and promotions we’ve absolutely earned. We know what we’re doing. And when we don’t know, we know we can figure it out.

It takes a while to get here, to the middle of the middle — with good stuff behind us, even better stuff ahead and whole lot of important work that needs doing in the meantime. I guess some people pine for their 20s, look mistily back at their 30s. I honestly don’t know what they’re thinking. I wouldn’t go backward for anything.

I’d hate to miss an episode of “Regular Show.”

Contact Mary Fortune at thirtytensomething.blogspot.com.

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