Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.10.05
Stanstead, Quebec


"He may be asinine / But he's still 39"

I turn 40 later this year. I won't say when exactly because I'm afraid the civic parades might be too much of a distraction and interfere with my nap time.

Plus, I don't want any of those "Lordy, lordy, look who's 40" announcements, unless they're something original like, "40 candles on your cake / Act your age, for goodness sake!"

For those of you reading this who are twice my age and are saying to yourself, "Feh! You call that old?" don't worry, I agree. I don't think 40 is old, certainly nothing to freak out over. But there is a realization that from here on, things are going to get soft and wobbly. But since I was pretty soft and wobbly to begin with, there's not too far to fall.

The impact of this milestone is mitigated by the fact that I don't think I look as old as I am. I can maintain that self-deception as long as I stay away from those magnifying shaving mirrors you find in hotels. I accidentally caught a glimpse once. It was like those science shows that reveal microscopic insects living in pillows; there are some things that you're just better off not seeing.

There have been signs of age: a few grey hairs plus one creepy rogue hair growing off my earlobe; going "UNGH!" whenever I get out of a chair; tingling sensations in extremities that never tingled before; loss of tingling sensations in other extremities; getting winded opening a can of corn. But generally I feel in pretty good shape for a man who ranks exercising right up there with flossing.

Mentally, I feel at the top of my game, even if I occasionally find myself forgetting what that game actually is. I have accumulated years of wisdom, which usually surfaces at around 3:30 a.m. during increasing bouts of insomnia - thinking about mortality, finances, what are the words to "The Year of the Cat."

But I rarely if ever go off on crazed mid-life panics about what I'm doing with my life or how I can second-mortgage the house to buy something fast and shiny or why I haven't yet written the great Canadian cereal box.

This is one of the perks of having an almost complete lack of ambition. It's hard to be serious about changing the world when you can't muster the motivation to change the litter box.

Occasionally, however, I will hear about someone my age who has become tremendously successful. J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, for instance, is filthy rich and is almost single-handedly responsible for a resurgence in children's literacy.

I, on the other hand, return empty beer bottles to the IGA and am responsible for cancelled subscriptions and angry calls to the editor.

But that's okay. I am content with my middle-class existence, little family, and reasonably intact teeth. My main problem, apart from the phantom pains and the growing need to share my ailments with those around me (hello, reader), is not that I feel old but that I still feel young. In my head, I'm still 25.

Whenever I'm talking over serious matters with colleagues, whether they're older than me or the same age, I still feel like I should be sitting at the little kids' table. The plus side of this is that I come across as mature and analytical whereas in reality I'm just keeping my mouth shut so people don't realize I'm faking it.

In some ways, I'm hoping turning 40 will provide me with more confidence and the wisdom to never, ever again utter the phrase, "Yo, wassup!" I just have to come to terms with the fact that I can no longer be referred to as a "wunderkind." More likely, they'll be calling me "Wonderbread."