Ranting

I’ll Never Be President

October 20th, 2016

On your next birthday, don’t think about the candles. Just take the cake.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, October 21, 2016, and in The Memphis News, October 22-28, 2016

Candles

BIRTHDAY REFLECTIONS IN AN ELECTION YEAR. 

Let’s face it; I’ll never be president.

Another birthday just showed up and I didn’t blow out any candles. Maybe I don’t have the breath for it anymore. Maybe I don’t have the enthusiasm. While I’m grateful for another year, the count thereof gives me pause.

One of the first messages I saw was from my barber of 40 years who shared a quote from her doctor, “The good news is dying young is no longer an option.”

Birthdays these days come with the requisite well wishes but also the requisite reflection.

As I stared into a tumbler of birthday single malt, I saw the ambitions I once had swirling around in there with what actually happened. The anything’s possible skinny kid swimming with the reality of the older, much fatter, graying birthday boomer. Then I thought, hey, if I was three years older, 40 pounds heavier and had a neon-yellow, product-soaked combover, I could be a presidential nominee.

The fact that I lost a business years ago still bubbles up in the glass, and I still worry about the dozens of families in addition to my own that hurt, the good and able suppliers that burned, the creative fire in me that dampened. But, you know, if I’d lost a billion dollars in one year, gone bankrupt six times, put thousands upon thousands out of work, and stiffed every trade and profession along the way, I could call myself a genius and carry the national banner of the Republican party.

As the ice melts, I have cold thoughts. I wonder if I’m worthy of the woman I married, if the ups and downs of the whole ride have been too high and too low. I wonder if the bias in all of us makes each of us less than we should be. I wonder if I properly respect the wonder and dignity in all of us. I wonder if my constant questioning of my faith is antithetical. But, wonder of wonders, if I’d been married three times, cheated on #1 with #2, bragged about making unwanted advances and genital grabs, and insulted genders, races, nations, religions, science, intelligence and all the senses, I could be the evangelical choice for president.

After I think about it, about kids and grandkids, about friends and family, near misses and solid hits, being mentored and mentoring, being loved and loving, maybe I’m doing okay after all.

After all the birthday wishes that came my way – a soulful one from David Porter complete with musical note emoji, one from Corey Mesler informing me that I share a birthday with the likes of Thelonious Monk and Brett Favre, Helen Hayes and Ed Wood, Peter Coyote and The Outer Space Treaty – maybe the mark we all make is wider and deeper than we may realize.

No, by current standards, I’ll never be president. Nor you. And, upon reflection, we should be very happy about that and so much more.

I’m a Memphian, and here’s to birthdays.

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