I turned forty a week ago last Saturday.

You’ll notice that I wrote out the word (forty) rather than using the numerals (4 and 0) to represent my age. In recent double-blind laboratory studies, test subjects retained both “generalized allure” and “a certain je ne sais quoi” an average of five years longer than the control group simply by avoiding the use of the numeral 4 in the the tens column when representing their age to the opposite sex. (Side effects are similar to sugar pill.) By spelling out their age, the test subjects benefited from the homonymous relationship of their age with the Latin root “fortis.” Thus:

40 = Old
Forty = Strong-y

Anyway, the girls and I pulled out all the stops and celebrated by going to Chuck E. Cheese with a couple of their cousins. A good time was had by all, as manifest by my niece who, in mid-bite, looked up from her pizza and enthused, “This is the best birthday ever!” I don’t know about that. I remember my 26th quite fondly, but I appreciated the sentiment.

The next day the girls flew with their Mom to Chicago to attend their Uncle Ben‘s graduation from the University of Chicago Law School. I should have spent my childless bachelor week shopping for a Miata/Boxter/Z4/H2/Harley/<insert your preferred mid-life crisis vehicle here>, but as luck would have it I spent every passing day getting steadily sicker with what I thought was the flu.

By Wednesday I was semi-comatose, but I had to drag myself in to work so I wouldn’t miss getting laid off. They want me to hang around and help out with some big projects that are going live in September, but after that I’ll be looking for work along with the other 6.1% of the population.

The next day I was diagnosed with pneumonia.

So, to recap:

  • Turned 40/forty.
  • Soon to be divorced.
  • Soon to be unemployed.
  • Consumptive.

This is the stuff of opera. Bad opera, to be sure, but opera nonetheless.

So, there I was, having one of those George-Bailey-on-the-bridge moments, feeling profoundly pathetic, and thinking that everyone would probably be a lot better off if I just “died of the damp” (as Dill’s Aunt Stephanie would so eloquently put it). I even had Mr. Potter’s “You’re worth more dead than alive…” ringing in my ears.

You see, if I were to die tomorrow of some tubercular catastrophe, my girls would walk away with about half-a-million dollars for college and a new Mini/Beetle/Jeep/<insert your preferred fun-and-fancy-free-girl’s vehicle here> in about ten years when they’re old enough to drive. And thanks to the modern wonders of Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage, if I were to die tomorrow in some fiery automotive catastrophe, they’d walk away with twice that amount.

But as I lay there, sicker than a dog and wallowing in self-pity, I had to acknowledge the fact that I’m far too selfish to croak right now. For one thing, I’d miss our weather talks too much.

I’m not sure how it started, but we’ve developed this odd little bedtime ritual where I’m required to dispense some weather-fact-of-the-day before my girls will go to sleep. In the past few months we’ve covered all of the dramatic weather phenomena: tornados, hurricanes, giant hailstones, raining frogs. But they’re even interested in the most mundane of cloud facts.

So, the girls got back late Saturday night and I was able to spend all Father’s Day with them. We all slept in, played on the computer, made paper helicopters, practiced riding our two-wheelers (we just took off the training wheels last week), watched videos, ate too much dessert. To paraphrase my niece, it was the best Father’s Day ever! By bedtime, I was exhausted and so were the girls. But after “hugsandkisses,” as I turned out the light and was about to leave the room, Emma said, “Wait, Dad. You have to tell us something about the weather.”

We covered barometric pressure. We’re going to make a barometer out of a 2-liter bottle later this week.

I know that may not sound very exciting to you, but I live for this stuff. Literally.