Wednesday, April 05, 2006

They're all just numbers, right?

I've finally made it home from what was supposed to be a 24 hr trip to the AACR meeting to write this post at a chronological anomaly in time. At 1:02 am and 3 seconds today, the ethnocentric American digital clock reads 01-02-03-04-05-06. For much of the rest of this world, the anomaly won't occur until 4 May, for obvious reasons.

The reason I care or even mention this is that it was pointed out to me in an airport bar yesterday by a guy whose birthday is 5 April. Turns out that yours truly is also one year older on this very same day, striking the non-descript milestone of 42.

How in the hell did this happen???

I still see myself as this 25-year-old kid playing guitar and bass, being totally hip to the latest music, running and cycling, spending 14 hours a day in lab, and partying like I'd never get old.

Instead, I am 42.

42, with greying hair. Even my allegedly hip attempt at growing a goatee is undermined with grey.

42, with an extra 20 pounds I put on during my wife's pregnancy.

42, with my first MRI of a major joint (my shoulder) last month because of constant pain I incurred as the 25-year-old spiking a volleyball in grad school.

42, not even a prime number, like last year's 41.

As I lamented the marking of being one year closer to my death, the director of PharmPreSchooler's parent/childcare co-op mentioned to me that, hey, 42 is the Answer to The Ultimate Question Of Life, the Universe and Everything. Ah yes, the Douglas Adams book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - surely, I could find some cosmic comfort in achieving the age that represents one of the coolest and mysterious numbers from a book of my generation.

Well, I fired up the old Wikipedia entry and learned:

"Douglas Adams was asked many times during his career why he chose the number forty-two. Many theories were proposed, but he rejected them all. On November 2, 1993, he gave an answer on alt.fan.douglas-adams:"

"The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story."

Nope, nothing special about being 42...until I walked upstairs bleary-eyed early this morning from yet another delayed plane flight to see a cake baked in my honor and a card that reads, "Happy Birthday, Daddy."

Indeed, I guess 42 will do.

7 Comments:

At Wed Apr 05, 09:16:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Paul said...

Have you seen this?
http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/03/prime_numbers_get_hitched.php

 
At Wed Apr 05, 09:46:00 AM EDT, Anonymous anjou said...

Happy Birthday!! From both of us soon to embark from DC.

 
At Wed Apr 05, 01:29:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Tara said...

Happy birthday! Consider yourself lucky if you're still "greying" at 42. I've been greying since 20--I doubt I'll have any brown left by my mid-thirties!

 
At Thu Apr 06, 02:59:00 AM EDT, Blogger coturnix said...

Happy birthday! I am quickly approaching the four-oh...ah, well, just a number. My goatee's been gone since I was 25. And my shoulder's been hurting lately, too.

 
At Thu Apr 06, 07:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger Orac said...

It could be worse.

You could be 43, like me.

 
At Thu Apr 06, 09:47:00 PM EDT, Blogger Abel PharmBoy said...

Paul: if I understand the article correctly, I should feel very cosmically significant to be 42.

Anjou: SO sorry to miss you but I got to talk to The Man for a moment at my joint poster. We'll have dinner next time when I fly another airline. I won't bother telling you about the 8 hr return flights that had absolutely nothing to do with weather.

Tara: You are very kind. I'm sure that your few grey hairs are simply from having kids at a more "traditional" age. My stylist and his wife own their own shop in our college town - he is also a rock drummer that I played bass with backing up a local singer-songwriter and I know he is older than me, yet my wife says that he's quite handsome and seems to look younger every time we see him. When I was complaining to him about feeling old and how he kept looking so good and young, he said in his best Southern accent, "It's 'color,' man. Don't you know? I thought you were some sort of chemistry dude."

Coturnix: I had my first phys therapy session today to rehab the shoulder but it triggered back spasms and missed the meet-up. It's going from bad to worse.

Orac: Perhaps, but I'd find some solace in 43 being a prime number. Plus, I think you are a much snazzier dresser than I, that is, for a plexiglas box of blinking lights. As Billy Crystal's Fernando character said, "It is better to look good than feel good."

Many thanks to all for your best wishes!

 
At Thu Apr 06, 11:32:00 PM EDT, Anonymous anjou said...

Stopped by your poster, just shortly after the Man saw you, but you were roaming-- and didnt know when youd get back-- wanted to see the Cezanne show (very good and not nearly as crowded as the one that was in Philly.

EIGHT HOURS---geesh! Glad youre home-- your daughter is adorable!! I like her glitter pony too

and, I just turned 50...so 42 sounds young to me!! Celebrate big time!

 

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