Happy birthday? A pirate looks at 50

“Yes, I am a pirate, two hundred years too late

The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder

I’m an over-forty victim of fate.

Arriving too late, arriving too late.”

–      Jimmy Buffett, “A Pirate Looks at 40”

Jimmy Buffett wrote that song back in 1974 about a friend of his. It’s the bittersweet confession of a man – a modern-day pirate – looking back at his first 40 years and pondering his future. It’s a sweet, sad, beautiful song, and it’s one of my favorites.

That pirate was looking at 40. This pirate is looking at 50. The big day for me arrives on Friday, when I will officially be eligible to join the AARP and the PGA Senior Golf Tour.

And I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at my picture, and you’re thinking, “Wow! He doesn’t look 50!”

Well, there’s a good reason for that – that picture was taken when I was in my early 40s. And I’m not going to be swapping out that photo anytime soon. It’s bad enough seeing what I looked like at 42; you don’t want to see what I look like at 50.

When I was a kid, of course, I thought of 50-year-old men as downright ancient. Wilford Brimley. Abe Vigoda. Grandpa Walton. Those were 50-year-old men.

But me? Fifty? It’s not possible.

The jokes have already started. My friends are asking if I’m going to start wearing plaid shorts, black socks and brown dress shoes to mow the lawn. They’re wondering if I’m going to eat dinner every day at 3:30 p.m. They want to know if I’ll listen to WJR all day and night, if I’ll be keeping my teeth in a glass next to my bed every night, and if I’ll start referring to my pants as “trousers.”

Yes, yes, yes. It’s all true. I’ll also be yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off my lawn, just so they can gripe and complain about how mean “Old Man Moorehouse” is.

It’s a funny feeling turning 50. I’m older than the president of the United States and the coach of the Michigan football team. I never thought that would happen. (On the plus side, I’m still younger than 90 percent of the U.S. Senate!)

Just like Jimmy Buffett’s friend, I’m taking this time to assess my life – where I’ve been and where I’m going. But unlike that pirate, I’m not bittersweet about it.  Not at all. Instead, I’m counting my blessings.

I’ve been lucky in love – luckier than any man has a right to be. My lovely wife and I have wonderful kids who are happy and healthy. We live in a great community and have great friends and neighbors. Aside from a few minor complaints, I have my health.

My career took an unexpected detour last year when my longtime newspaper cut me loose, but it’s allowed me to embark on a couple new endeavors that are beyond exciting. I wasn’t meant to grow old and retire at my desk at the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

I’m not rich, but I’m not giving up on the idea that I can be.

I’ve gone skydiving and bungee jumping. I’ve traveled to several foreign lands, I’ve done stand-up comedy in Las Vegas and I’ve run for political office.

I haven’t learned how to build a deck, but I haven’t given up on the idea that there’s still time.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see most of my favorite teams win championships – the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, and Michigan’s football and basketball teams. As for the Lions completing my wish list? Well, I’m not sure I can stick around long enough for that to happen. There are babies not yet born who won’t live long enough to see the Lions win the Super Bowl.

So, as this pirate looks at 50, I can honestly say that it’s been a full life and a wonderful life, and the best is yet to come. I still can get rich, I still can learn to build a deck, and the Lions can still win the Super Bowl.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

“But I got to stop wishin’, got to start fishin’

Down to rock bottom again.

Just a few friends, just a few friends…”

You can reach Buddy at buddy@livingstontalk.com.

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