In which I take issue with Shakespeare and invite you to my 40th birthday party

I was browsing through a copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets the other day and came across one that begins: When forty winters shall besiege thy brow… “Excellent!” I thought. “This will be perfect for my fortieth birthday!”

I sat down at the kitchen table to read Sonnet II, expecting some lovely words describing the way age, while it can take its toll on one’s beauty, offers innumerable benefits in terms of wisdom, love, joy…and maybe at the end something about how the forty-year-old subject won’t look so bad after all since she is so awesome. Here’s what I got:

When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask’d where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days;
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer “This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,”
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold. — (Sonnet II)

For shame, William! Is this all you’ve got for me? That the only thing that is good about being forty is that we have beautiful children? I know things were rough on women in the 1590s, but I think we can do better than this — even if I have sunken eyes and deep trenches in my brow.

Waiting for the el
Here I am with my forty-year-old brow and the fair children.

No matter what Shakespeare has to say about it, I am very pleased to say that I will turn the delightful age of Forty on the Twenty-First Day of February in the Year of Our Lord 2015. Rock on! I’ve enjoyed being almost forty for a few years now, and I think I will enjoy entering this new decade just as much.

And so, I would like to invite you all to the wonderful Birthday Party my dear husband is throwing for me.

Date: Saturday, February 21, 2015
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Location: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, 3404 N Southport Ave, Chicago
Purpose: To eat incredible ice cream and celebrate Ann’s 40th Birthday!

Some of you have received this invitation already, but some of you haven’t. Omissions are entirely due to my incomplete records of email addresses and should not be the cause of offense to anyone! I hope you will consider yourself warmly invited.

You’ll find more details and RSVP opportunities at this link. No gifts please — just come and buy yourself a bowl or two of the best ice cream in the world.

We hope to see you there!

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