If everything goes according to plan, in three days I will be 40 years old. At that age, Gutenberg had already invented the printing press, James Stewart had already starred in It’s a Wonderful Life, John Belushi had already died, Einstein had already formulated the theory of relativity, and Alexander the Great was already King of Macedonia, Hegemon of Greece, Pharaoh of Egypt, King of Asia, and Great King of Media and Persia. And I’m still not even lord of my own home.
I distinctly remember the day I was born. I was writing a column for a prenatal newspaper, and a very cute lady came to tell me that I should get born. It suited my mother just fine, and I, at the time, was incredibly lazy. Like now, but without diapers. But the girl told me that I had to join the world imminently or a man would come in and take me out by force.
For the first time I felt that freedom is not a universal right. I told them that I preferred to wait for my mother to arrive at the hospital, because being born alone is depressing. Full of youthful innocence, I refused to leave, invoking the Geneva Convention or something of the kind. The midwife, after trying in vain to convince me, even resorting to economic bribery, told me that all her friends would be waiting for me outside. That was what persuaded me. So I went out and was frankly irritated that it hadn’t occurred to anyone that after nine months of darkness I might need some damn sunglasses. The truth is that the nurses were gorgeous. But unfortunately, none of them accepted my invitation to dinner that night. They all had their own 40-year-old babies to take care of.
I soon discovered the art of love. I had barely been on Earth three days, and I was already learning how to throw the pacifier out of the cot so that one of those beautiful girls would have to bend down to pick it up. Forty years later, I still use the same tactics to pick up girls. For reasons that I can’t fathom, it no longer works. Even though I’m still bald-headed, can barely speak and sleep all the time. I’m the same as I was 40 years ago, except that I pay a lot more taxes, or at least — if you’re a tax inspector, skip to the next paragraph — I should.
The world is not what it used to be. Back then, children were left to be children. Now everyone wants you to be born knowing the Manual of the Perfect Progressive by heart, to have a social conscience as big as Amanda Gorman’s, and to choose every morning, before entering kindergarten, whether that day you feel like a man, a woman, or a Non-Binary Orinoco Turtle. If you are a boy, they put you in socks at recess; if you are a girl, they make you play rugby; and if you are a non-binary turtle, they create a bank holiday in your name and make the other children come in shells painted green to normalize the fact that there are children who are turtles. Conclusion: there’s not a minute to play gunfights and crack other babies’ heads open with the butt of a rifle after a dizzying chase through the halls of the kindergarten.
It is common knowledge that people get older because they spend the day longing for times gone by. In my case, I have longed for times gone by since the very day I was born, when my grandfather would tell me about his amusements as a child. To my amazement, all of them were already forbidden, either by the government or by the school’s parents’ associations, or they were persecuted by any environmentalist organization. It seems to me that the impressive technological advances of the last century are driven by groups of parents who, after banning children from all the fun activities they had as children, are desperate to entertain their children with something or other. I have no historical data on this, but I am convinced that the iPad was invented by a dad who wanted to watch the Super Bowl that night without having his overprotected son next to him, yelling about how bored he was every two minutes.
Looking back, I can’t tell you what I’ve been doing for the last 40 years. But the truth is that I’m tired, almost as if I had been working, which is a relatively unknown activity for me. Being a journalist, I try not to work. And being a writer, I need to travel, meet people, and go out for drinks, because that’s the only way I can find stories. So I’ve never been able to stop and work on anything serious. The world should be grateful to me for this. Luckily I write columns, nothing else. If they topple, no one gets hurt, except from boredom. Imagine what might happen if instead of columns I built bridges.
God leads intelligent people down a straight path, a serious career, and a life of virtue. The rest of us are dragged to places where we can do no harm. That’s why journalism is full of very clumsy guys who dreamed of being astronauts and flying spaceships, and whom God managed to confuse with plays on words before causing a space catastrophe. I hope my midlife crisis does not lead me to fall in love with a Jamaican stewardess and become a commercial pilot, toasting with champagne while flying over big cities and piloting a Boeing 747 with my feet.
Most likely, instead of that, I will write it down. This is how Providence saves lives.
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, The American Spectator, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and is a columnist for several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website: www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau