I’ve had a few friends and family members express a concern that I’ve been a little, as they put it, “down on myself” lately. I think they somehow got it in their heads that my core readership consists entirely of single females between the ages of 18 and 45. (I fudged the lower end of the scale so I could include Keira Knightley.) They are concerned that any prospective dates reading my posts from the past few months might deduce that I’m some sort of pathetic, lonely, morose loser with crushingly low self-esteem…which couldn’t be further from the truth. I am not morose.

So, I have been commanded to say “something nice” about myself.

That would explain the 12-day silence since my last post. But I promised to make an effort, so keeping my target demographic in mind, I would like to let Keira (et al) know that…

I’m getting better-looking with age.

There, I said it. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. If you were to look at my high school senior class picture, you’d see what appeared to be a boiled parsnip with big hair and bad skin looking supremely uncomfortable in a velvet-lapeled tuxedo jacket, so there was really nowhere to go but up. Still, improvement is improvement and at the current rate I just might achieve “presentable” if I can make it to my 135th birthday.

I’ve also managed to lose the 15 StressPounds™ I’d packed on the past few years. The last time I was in this good a shape was four years ago when I had to go shirtless in a production of South Pacific and my biceps ended up getting better reviews than I did. The irony, of course, is that in both cases I’ve managed to develop the body of my dreams just in time for nobody to care.

(Again, “body of my dreams” isn’t saying much. I dream small.)

The downside is that I’m now in need of new pants at the very time I can’t afford them, so I’m walking around with my jeans hanging off my hips. This is, apparently, where the fashion gods intended jeans to hang, but at my age it can start to look like I’m trying to ape the youngsters. The upside is that I might be able to pass for one of them.

While I’ve always looked younger than I am, I thought for sure the stresses of the past few years had aged me to the point that I’d be skewing much older. Apparently not. A few weeks ago, I got home and found that my twenty-year-old niece, Elisabeth, had come over with a few of her friends to find a yearbook in one of the boxes she’d been storing out in the garage. While her friends waited in the car in the driveway, I helped her shift some boxes around and pulled a few boxes down off the shelf until she found what she was looking for. I guess my manly heaving of heavy objects made an impression, because when she got back in the car, her friends were full of questions.

“Who was that?” they asked, smiling.

“That’s my uncle,” Elisabeth replied.

“How old is he?”

Knowing what was coming, she asked, “How old do you think he is?”

“26, 27…” they ventured.

She paused for dramatic effect.

“He’s 40.”

Noooooooooo!” they cried, with what I assume is the same horror a young girl would experience if the guy walking in front of her, whose butt she thought was really cute, turned around and she realized she’d been ogling her own father.

The funny thing is, I have a portrait of myself that was painted years ago and, while I have remained relatively unchanged, the painting has become progressively more hideous as time has gone by. Go figure…