When I was ten I wished I could drive: I had to wait until I was 14 and then to drive a beat up tractor around an uncle's farm. It was a joy ride at three miles per hour.
When I was 16 I wanted to drive the park's WWII jeep with a million miles on it to cut the grass: The boss reserved that fun for himself and his son.
When I was 17 I was getting malaria in Ecuador, something I would not wish on anyone.
When I was 20, I wanted to be 21, for all the right reasons. I guess I was never smart enough or brave enough to have a fake ID, and I did wait for that cold day in November, long ago.
When I was 24 I was in the army, wishing I had gone in when I was 18, right out of high school. I was nearly the oldest in my Infantry Officer Basic Course, and certainly the least experienced.
When I was the same age and attending a government counterintelligence briefing, the briefer warned us about sneaky communist women, all good looking, who would be seducing us for secrets. I wish I could have met one or two, just for bragging rights.
When I was nearly 25, I got married, and have been happily so for almost 48 years, to the same woman.
When I was 29 and in graduate school at Georgetown, I wished I'd never turn 30, but a female student scoped out the truth and made sure everyone in the PhD program got the word. I was not to be trusted,ever again. Even former Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean Kirkpatrick, ribbed me in class.
When I was 39, I started getting mail from AARP. People, strangers really, started calling me 'sir'. I bought my first pair of reading glasses and finally was able to read the menu at a darkened restaurant. I wished I didn't have to wear them.
When I reached 40 right here, in Monterey, my office, which was chock full of physiologists and one psychiatrist gave me a roast that still stings, but was really funny. I wished I could find the gag gifts they gave me, all in poor taste.
When I retired at 51, my wife eventually forgave me, but sent me to culinary school, as revenge. I wish she hadn't, but now I am glad she did.
When I turned 56, right after 9/11, I wished for good health, but I went into the hospital for CABG, aka bypass surgery. My daughter asked me if I was gonna die; I told her yes, but not that day.
When I hit 65, I wished for a quiet birthday but my wife gathered 40 people from our past in Greenwich Village for a surprise birthday party.
Now, here we are, I reached 73, older than dirt, recalling all those trips around the sun. I wish that I could repeat them all, but what the hell, there's a lot of life left, places to go, people to meet, and things to complain about. I'm just getting started and that's my birthday wish to myself.
My Dad died at 75, but my Mom lived to be 92, I am shooting for somewhere in that middle range. Here's to wishing and to when.