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61 with a Bullet
SUNDAY WAS my birthday and what have I got to show for myself after six decades of this cosmic joke called life? Receding hairline, expanding waistline, infrequent byline and recurring firetrucking punch line: nine times before today, in birthday columns respectively headlined, 60, 59, 58, 57, 56, 55, 50, 40 and 35 with a Bullet, I’ve repeated the same hairline/ waistline/ byline joke I first made when I was 30 with a Bullet.
After turning 30 “in the papers” in 1988, I limited birthday columns to “significant” birthdays, multiples of five. In 2013, I realised every firetrucking birthday had become huge because each makes it more likely I won’t be here for the next! (No Pires male has lived past age 62 in five generations; I’m watching my elder brother, who turns 62 in two weeks, like the canary he is in our own coalmine.)
But surely I’ve learned something from it all? Or at least can pretend to have? Here, then, are 61 pieces of indisputable wisdom, one gleaned from each year I’ve defied both Death and the odds.
1. Never fart in an elevator/Never elect a brain-fart US president. 2. If you can’t get out of it, get into it. 3. Never sneeze while shaving your genitals.
4. Marry your best friend – but a marriage without sex is like macaroni pie without macaroni; or pie. 5. People prefer a pretty lie to an ugly truth. 6. Lift the toilet seat; but keep a lid on your own lip. 7. You can't please everybody, so firetruck ‘em all. 8. The less-talented are always more critical. 9. Powerful men are secretly terrified. 10. Firetruck Mediterranean, Mayo & Scarsdale: only the eat less/exercise more diet works.
11. Hush your ass and do your work. 12. Teaching children religious belief as truth is child abuse (Denis Solomon). 13. David Rudder/Bunji Galin were the future of calypso; but that future panned out as post-Apocalyspo. 14. Never sleep with a girl called Ruby; never play pool with a guy called Fats; never play cards with a man called Doc (Tom Waits); never vote for a political party with three initials in its name (me). 15. The hottie in the gym is not looking at you, but at her reflection in the mirror behind you. 16. Ask a woman how she hurt her leg, she’ll say, “I walked into a chair”; ask a man, he’ll say, “Some jackass left a chair in the middle of the room!” 17. If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use both feet (Keith Richards). 18. You reap what you sow. 19. There is no such thing as a free lunch. 20. Speak of the Devil and he appears.
21. Never laugh with Crix in your mouth. 22. Never say behind people’s back what you wouldn’t say to their face (except for bum-bum compliments). 23. Wait until your own children are adults before you judge your parents. 24. You can change the Trinidad government but the new one will do the same old firetruckeries. 25. The belt-below-the-boxers-fashion is this generation’s bell-bottoms. 26. Don’t smoke: the only con bigger than cigarettes is Donald Trump. 27. Better one true friend than a hundred false ones. 28. If you don’t prevent it, you will become your father or mother. 29. The rich get richer and the poor get children. 30. No one has a clue.
31. Don’t pick up any tissue near any man’s computer. 32. Do not get a tattoo but, if you must get one, do not get one of barbed wire, a rose, a tear, a tramp stamp, a holy book verse or a Guns ‘n’ Roses lyric. 33. It’s unlikely that you will be reborn but you're definitely going to die. 34. Jesus saves but the Devil pays compound interest. 35. Keep a strong bag that folds up small in your hand/shoulder-bag. 36. Wherever you go, there you are. 37. You can only eat one cheeseburger at a time. 38. Money won’t get you to Heaven, but you sure see Hell without it (Christian Soldier/jointpop). 39. You’re better off patterning your life on a company slogan than a “holy” book. 40. Women need a reason to have sex; men only need a place.
40. All is firetrucking vanity. 41. Children are the only point. 42. Every age is modern to those who live in it. 43. Be the change you want in the world. (Ghandi). 44. Brrrrrrtttt! (Bunji). 45. The only one you can rely on is you but you have to trust others or you might as well shoot yourself. 45. We die alone for sure but we may be able to live together. 46. It takes all kinds – but apostates are the best. 47. The Age of Reason will arise. 48. For every liberty you take, there is a responsibility you must assume. 49. Blink and it’s over. 50. God is dead (Nietzsche) but love is all you need (Beatles)..
51. Never travel long distances in button-fly jeans. 52. The only person you can change is yourself. 53. Those people are indeed talking about you. 54. The louder anyone protests against anything - therapy, same gender sex, Viagra - the more desperately they need it. 55. Anger is a poison you take and hope your enemy dies. 56. You can always add salt; you can never take it out. 57. Love thy neighbour – but don’t let thy spouse find out. 58. Better to live to an age where you look like a walking corpse than to die young and leave a good-looking one. 59. It’s depressing to be a 70-year-old bald firetruck driving an expensive sports car, but it’s even sadder to be a 70-year-old bald firetruck catching a bus. 60. Only people you like can disappoint you: your friends let you down, not your enemies. 61. One day I'll have to get a real job.
BC Pires prefers to think of himself as on the low end of over-60 than the high one of over-40