Issue #205 – “Tres Tres” – June 18th, 2012

-Wide receiver Chad Johnson was ridiculed in 2008 when he legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco in order to match his jersey number 85. Besides just being a stupid idea, anyone who has taken high school Spanish knows that “ocho cinco” doesn’t even mean eighty-five – that would be ochenta y cinco. Today is my thirty-third birthday. It is a seminal event – I’m nearly a third of the way to a hundred and only two years away from being eligible to run for president. But while I have zero inclination to change my last name to mark the occasion, I wouldn’t be opposed to changing my middle name from Paul to something a certain wide receiver would love and all of my high school Spanish teachers would hate. Aaron Tres Tres Karo does have a certain ring to it. Disagree? Hey, it’s my birthday and I can have terrible ideas if I want to.

-One thing I had to do as my birthday approached was renew my driver’s license. I filled out the form, paid online, and was then prompted to “add to cart.” Wait, what? Sorry, are there other things I’m supposed to be shopping for at the California DMV website?

-There is something that is preventing me from feeling bummed as I turn yet another year older: my buddy Jeff. He’s thirty-six, which makes him my closest friend not in my immediate age cohort. I’ll be out at the bars, fucked up, and catch a glimpse of Jeff, rapidly graying beard and all, equally fucked up, and I know that I’ve got at least three more years for this to be considered acceptable behavior.

-I’ve always wished that one of my teachers growing up had assigned that exercise where you write a letter to yourself and then he or she delivers it to you twenty years later. I wonder what my thirteen-year-old self would have written in 1992. Probably that I hoped the Yankees would win a championship in my lifetime, and that my mom would finally let me install one of those AOL CDs.

-I like to think that I’m fairly introspective, and turning thirty-three has definitely motivated me to look back at my life since college. I’m pretty sure I only became a fully functional human being about two years ago. One of the consequences of being 1) male, and 2) fairly successful, is that, for the most part, no one ever tells you what to do. I think I could have used a little guidance in my twenties. Maturity was not one of my strong suits. Quite frankly, sometimes I’m surprised I even survived into my thirties.

-One disheartening aspect about your thirty-third birthday is the realization that the next milestone anyone will really care about is your fortieth birthday. Everything between thirty and forty is just a series of indistinguishably ordinary celebrations. Plus, forty is old. Like, really old. By that time, Jeff will be forty-three. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that qualifies him for AARP and social security.

-In the end, I’m content with my station in life at thirty-three. As you get older, you begin to realize what is truly important: good friends, close family, strong health, and the occasional retweet. If I could write a letter to my future self twenty years from now, all I would say is that I hope the Knicks win a championship in my lifetime, and that the hologram that replaces the California DMV website actually starts making sense.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-I swear I pass more cars on the right than I do on the left. Once they make it to the left lane, drivers think they’ve got it made and are oblivious to me coming up behind them. So I’ve gotta take them on the right. It must be embarrassing to get passed like that. It’s like saying, “You’re so slow I just pulled some illegal shit just to get away from you.”

-My dad and I were both relieved that Father’s Day and my birthday did not fall on the same day this year. This is because we are both attention hogs and neither of us wants to share the spotlight with the other. In truth, though, my dad deserves his own day, and the barbecue he received as a gift. I look forward to watching him make me food on it for years to come.

-The number of bedrooms in your apartment does not impress me unless you have an equivalent number of bathrooms. A three-bedroom apartment with one bathroom is the same as a studio in my book. It doesn’t matter how many guests you can accommodate if their dopp kits are on your sink and their asses are on your toilet.

-I just noticed that the little bottle of crushed red pepper I have in my cupboard has a recipe for chicken quesadillas on the back. That’s a bit of stretch, don’t you think? No one is struggling to find a recipe for dinner and is serendipitously coming across this tiny little font. Stop trying to be something you’re not, bottle of crushed red pepper. Your entire purpose is to serve as backup in case you forget to put it on at the pizza place.

-And, finally, I leave you today with a bittersweet announcement. This fall I will celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Ruminations – and publish my final column ever. I began writing Ruminations in September of 1997 when I was an eighteen-year-old college freshman. Now I’m thirty-three, and I’m ready to move on. What this does not mean is that I will no longer write or ruminate. It just means I will be doing so via Twitter and Facebook instead of the Monday morning email blasts you’ve come to (hopefully) enjoy. I will still use this mailing list to occasionally communicate with you directly, but after I write my final issue in a few months, Ruminations the column will end for good. I cannot begin to express what an unmitigated joy it has been to write Ruminations for all of you. I look at my bookshelf and well up with pride – both at the sight of my own books, and the thought that none of this would have been possible had I not sent a bleary-eyed email to twenty friends fifteen years ago. When I started touring the country doing stand-up, and got to meet so many of my amazing readers in person, I knew I had found my calling. You helped me land a Comedy Central special and inspired me to move to Hollywood to write sitcoms. All this for a kid who, in 1997, was less concerned with launching an entertainment career and more concerned with removing embarrassing cookies from my first computer. Alone, I deleted Internet history. Together, we created Internet history. And that is what made the decision to walk away from Ruminations so difficult. It is the only thing I have known my entire adult life. But all good things must come to an end. I hope you will continue to support me when I sign off this fall. And I thank you for helping me forever alter the meaning of the phrase “Fuck me!”