Pay attention, kids, because this is important. Last month, I celebrated my 40th birthday.
I’m officially over the hill. Throughout your youth, people will be telling you how bad that event is.
They’ll present it as a scary and depressing milestone worthy of all kinds of pity and scorn from friends. And they’ll tell you that your best days are in your rearview mirror.
I’m here to tell you that’s garbage. In fact, turning 40 is kind of great.
And here’s why it’s great: Your conversation filters are beginning to crack.
When you’re young, you speak in careful and measured tones. Your speaking filters are strong. They help you get along with others.
And they prevent you from saying things like, “Hey look, that cop is really fat!”…you know, within earshot of his cruiser. Or “You should really consider learning English!” you know, while you’re placing an order at the McDonald’s restaurant drive-through.
At 40, your skills will be underdeveloped and crude. But by 60, you literally could say anything to anybody with impunity. How exciting!
I think one of the places I’d like to remove my filter is at the department store during the holidays. Recently, Americans not only had to endure Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but today they’ll discover something called “Credit Repair Wednesday”
That’s the day when shoppers realize they spent way too much on junk at the mall and now must place their home in foreclosure. My unfiltered take: “It sounded like a bargain when you saved 30 percent on pants during some sort of insane, “one-day only” sale. But remember, the store marked them up 300 percent the day it arrived off the truck, Einstein.”
It may sound cruel but I think shoppers respect the truth. And they also enjoy things that make the task of shopping more pleasurable. So here are my three unfiltered ideas while shopping at those dreadful malls.
1) No Crying Babies. When I say no crying babies, I’m not talking about those infants who wail and shriek incessantly from aisle to aisle. They can’t help it.
Rather, I’m talking about adults who find it necessary to complain that their legs are tired from all that walking or that the eight bags of crap they bought are too heavy. My unfiltered take: “Hey champ, less Jingle Bells and more barbells. If riding an escalator makes you winded, you need to make friends with something called exercise.”
2) No Price Checks. You’ve been there before. All you want to do is pay for your one item and get out so you can do more important things — like watch “Jersey Shore.”
But no, the idiot in front of you had the audacity to bring a mislabeled item to the register! And you’re finding it will take hours of detective work.
He is, of course, doing this just to make your blood boil. My unfiltered take: “If that pair of dress socks says $80.00, then damnit, you’ll pay it and you’ll like it. Next!”
3) Enforce Time Limits. Let’s face it. Stores are filled with lollygaggers. And lollygaggers are the enemy of progress.
What they need is an incentive to act. And what better incentive than a strict 10-minute time limit?
If you haven’t made a decision by then, the friendly bouncers show your tentative self to the door. My unfiltered take: “My God, it took you less time to pick out your wife’s engagement ring than it’s taking to decide on that belt. Flip a coin, Poindexter!”
See? Turning 40 isn’t so bad once the filters are gone! Besides, the only really scary thing about turning 40 is that your taste in music shifts.
That easy listening, soft rock station you used to make fun of doesn’t sound so bad anymore. Little River Band, where have you been all my life?
Otherwise, you should embrace your inner 40. Speak up, say what you’re thinking and enjoy the ride during the holidays.
Freelance columnist Patrick Hester writes in this space once a month.