Next Stop... The Hall of Fame?

Michael Phelps recently said that he wants to be "out of the water" by the time he's 30.  The Tennis world is currently debating whether the dominating career of Roger Federer, who just turned 27, is nearing its end.  The great running back, Jim Brown, walked away from the NFL at the ripe old age of 29...  What do the stories of these and countless other athletes teach us? That turning 30 means it's time to retire those dreams of playing in the pros.

This is not to say that a professional athletic career can't continue beyond the age of 3o.  Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan both un-retired in their 30s, a 38 year-old won gold in the 2008 Women's Olympic Marathon, and there are seemingly legions of baseball players who play past 30, no matter how un-athletic they seem.  HOWEVER, this is to say that if one is not a world-class athlete before becoming a Triple Decker, turning 30 is not the time to start.

This is an important distinction to make, because a young-man of 29 years, 364 days may still watch the NFL draft and think "I could do that. Maybe I should go out for the local JC team? I've still got all my eligibility..." Yet the day 30 comes, those thoughts no longer have a place in any Triple Decker's head, no matter what any film starring Dennis Quad or Mark Wahlberg says.

The silver lining to this dark athletic cloud is that many sports offer "senior" or "masters" events that Triple Deckers can still look forward to competing in, and athletic glory can still be reached in rec leagues all over the world.  What Triple Decker needs to be Super Bowl MVP when they can be carried off the softball field on their teammates' shoulders after hitting that game-winning infield single? Just because a 30 year-old can't look forward to their own Lou Gherig farewell speech, doesn't they can't be remembered as the gutsy competitor who laid it all on the line when they blew out their ACL in that co-ed YMCA pick-up game. 

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn...

When one turns 30 a commitment (often subconsciously) is made to a higher standard of overnight accomidations when away from home.  Though some gifted individuals may make this transition at an earlier age, there is no more powerful catalyst than the chronological clock striking 30.

There are a multitude of factors that contribute to the decision that sleeping in youth hostels, in cars, or on floors are no longer acceptable forms of lodging for a 30 year-old.*  Every Triple Decker knows well that to properly recover from even a single night on an unforgiving floor or couch, hours must be added to the next morning's stretching routine.  And heaven forbid a Triple Decker set foot in a youth hostel!  They know they will be the instant object of scrutiny and will most likely be referred to as "that weird 30 year-old in the 16-bunk room" or be accused of being a degenerate serial killer who preys on young hostel dwellers

Many Triple Deckers make it a point of personal pride to treat themselves well as they travel. This is especially true for those who are financially fit, or who at least have some sort of business expense account they can make use of (whether justified or not).  If a Triple Decker is a proud home owner, there is a near-zero chance that they will settle for anything less than full comfort while away from home; "I'm a home-owner! I deserve a bed of my own!," is the mantra of such Triple Deckers.

This sea change in sleeping arrangements explains why so many at or near 30 are well-versed in travel websites, collect travel coupons, and have multiple rewards club memberships; so they may experience the greatest amount of comfort while traveling.  They also are careful to stock their own dwellings with air mattresses, sleeper sofas, guest rooms, or some combination thereof so that they may pay it forward when other 30 year-olds come to visit them.

* Exceptions to this rule are granted for extreme financial hardship or inebriation.

Birthday Booze

In earlier, younger years, material birthday gifts are greatly anticipated and desired. Yet when 30 approaches, one usually has more than enough "stuff" to fill their lives,  and if a baby shower or wedding is on the horizon then more objects may soon be on their way.  

This appears to be the reason why alcohol becomes the gift du jour for the Triple Decker.  Starting with age 21, "buying you a drink" becomes a birthday custom, but by age 30, the gifts of alcohol become even more specialized.  Unique wines, select bottles of top shelf alcohol, even illegal foreign liqours may be bestowed upon one at their 30th birthday and beyond.  Those who survive their 30s can look forward to even more exotic alcoholic gifts at their 40th and 50th birthday.

This phenomenon may also help explain why Triple Deckers show a heightened interest in fully stocked home bars and wine tasting parties.  They also are more likely to be spotted enjoying a neatly filled sherry glass rather than a frothing Oktoberfest-sized stein.  Of course, the irony is that this appreciation of alcohol gained with age is inversely proportional to one's alcoholic tolerance... not to mention the hour one can comfortably stay up "appreciating" said alcohol.

The Art of Stretching

Studies have yet to determine at what age one begins to stretch with vocalization (i.e. yawning, expletives, passing gas), but once 30 approaches, stretching becomes an individual art form.  By the time the line of 30 is crossed, the classic S.S.S. routine (sh*t, shower, shave) is without controversy expanded to include a fourth 'S' for "stretching."

Triple Deckers will memorize their favorite stretching routines, as well as tricks involving door jams, tennis balls, or other inanimate objects that help get to the tightest and most hard to reach areas.  Stretching tips and secrets are freely exchanged between 30 year-olds, all in the name of getting a stiff vertebrae to 'pop' or a pesky hamstring to loosen.  Even non-athletic locations such as airports, movie theatres, offices, even cars, have become fair game for impromptu stretch-outs.  

In fact, to get the most out of all the time needed for extra stretching, many Triple Deckers will take up Yoga as it offers them s 3 for 1 exercise - stretching, working out, and managing the stress of leaving their 20s.  It should be noted however, that 30 year-olds are not advised to dabble in Tai Chi unless they want to be mistaken for much older.

The Absence of Shorts

It's a well known fact that as one ages, one's legs may become skinnier, hairier, veiny-er, and/or less aesthetically pleasing.  Given that fact, 30 still seems a young age to be hiding one's legs to the world... but, as 30 approaches, shorts are less likely to remain in the wardrobe.

While shorts may remain part of the post-30 ensemble for certain activities involving athletics, gardening, or moving around the privacy of one's own home, shorts worn in public have seemingly gone the way of the California Condor - not extinct, but severely endangered.  In fact, some people who have crossed the threshold of 30 are so serious about not wearing shorts, that they will do so even in short-appropriate situations.

The few pairs of shorts that do survive the big 3-0 are usually marked by their cargo pouches (to no doubt hold vitamins or other tools of age) and/or belt loops.  If one wears shorts with a belt and tucks in their shirt on top of that, they are most assuredly beyond 30... and are also probably someone's dad.

(The exception to this rule is if someone is already a parent before they turn 30. In that case they are fully entitled to wear shorts with a belt before becoming a Triple Decker... they've earned that right.)

¡Adios STDs!

New studies have shown that sexually transmitted diseases are running roughshod over the youth of America.  While this information has caused a low-level panic among teenagers, parents, and sex-ed teachers, the news is met with a smile from those near 30.  Why?  STDs are for youngins.

Those at or near 30 have left the labyrinth of the late teens and early twenties where the STD Boogeyman dwells. Gone is the ticking time bomb of college, when any Thursday night kegger can lead to a Monday visit to the student health center for examination of a suspicious itch. Never again will there be an awkward moment in the check-out aisle when buying phrophylactics- a 30 year old can confidently purchase a pack of condoms with a manner that says, "That's right. I'm 30, and I'm sexually active in a safe and responsible way. Deal with it! . . . I'll also take this pack of gum." 

For those who are on the brink of 30 and are engulfed by a last minute urge to date or "swim" with younger fish, this information is a potent reminder that they are wading into dangerous waters. Not only can that risky behavior give one the label of "cougar" (females) or being like "the guy in community college who dates high school chicks," but the price of admission may be more than your loins want to pay.

Ideally, one who turns 30 should heave a sigh of relief for escaping the sexual minefield of their twenties, waving goodbye to those STDs that lie in the rear-view mirror. For whether a 30 year-old is single, in a monogamous relationship, or married/abstinent there is a bright, sexually healthy future ahead of them.*

*This "future" should last indefinitely, though there have been rare instances of STD reoccurrence in old age.

Take Your Vitamins

While the use of vitamins is not exclusive to Triple Deckers, their importance is magnified as one is about to turn 30.

Many have dabbled in the use vitamins and nutritional supplements at earlier ages, but the time for experimentation ends when one nears 30.  Due to an abundance of research detailing how the human body begins to fall apart at age 30, vitamins have become serious business for anyone who desires to live their post-30 lives to the fullest.
How many letters of the alphabet do I need?  How yellow will this turn my pee?  Is a bigger pill better? Are delicious, gummy bear vitamins acceptable? All of these questions and more may run through the mind of a typical 30 year old as they try to determine what vitamins will give them the best chance to fight the inevitable drought of nutrients that lies ahead.

The hidden benefit of the vitamin years, is that it gives many Triple Deckers a chance to have a second drug-experimentation phase that, in theory, should yield positive results.  That is why one turning 30 should feel no shame in experimenting with some time-released omega acids, downing a whole pack of energy vitamins bought off the impulse rack at 7-11, or even placing an order for a potent organic panacea that airs its commercials Sunday mornings on AM radio.
The only unacceptable vitamin-related behavior is to worry and stress over the correct vitamin choices, as that will accelerate the aging process and further deplete one's body of the nutrients that are essential to life beyond 30.

Let's Make a Milestone Out of This!

The act of turning 30 represents the first age-related milestone in one's lifetime that is, in effect, hollow.

Some typical ages of significance are as follows:

Age 4-5: Start School
Age 13: Bar Mitzvah
Age 15: QuinceƱera
Age 16: Driver's License/
      Super Sweet Sixteen
Age 18: Voting
Age 21: Drinking Alcohol (legally)
Age 25: Rental Car

Age 30: ???

It's the first "milestone" that offers no new benefit, no reward, no new level of entitlement.  The root of this problem can be traced back to ancient times, when man's life expectancy was not nearly what it is today- in fact, in Paleolithic times, a 30 year old would be seen as a mythic elder of the tribe, a miracle of survival! They would also, however, be the unfortunate first victim of the next Saber toothed-cat attack due to their advanced age.

This absence of foresight by our forbearers has left those entering their third decade of life (aka Triple Deckers) searching for a theme or meaning behind turning 30, since society has refused to assign them one.

A common solution to this problem is to label one's 30th birthday as "Leaving my twenties behind!" or "I'm officially over the hill!", or any other clever evite title.  Does this give true meaning to the act of turning 30? No. But it most certainly beats, "Congratulations! You've hit another age with a zero in it!"

7 Months From 30

My name is Josh. In 7 months, I will turn 30 years old. 

It's not a big deal. I won't be the first person to hit that mark, and I'm pretty sure I won't be the last. I will, however, do my best to chronicle the journey there on this blog, while hopefully demystifying the process as well.

So without further ado, the truth about 30 (in no particular order) is as follows...