I recently turned 46. This was troublesome for me. No, the problem wasn’t that I was getting older. I’m used to that. Throughout my life, people have thought I looked older than my actual age.
When I was in 6th grade, my teacher said I needed to shave. I was 11. At the “Guess your age” booth at Six Flags, the barker always got it wrong.
During my teenage years at Falls Creek summer camp, I had no trouble buying the morning paper at the camp grocery store during the “sponsors only” hours.
On more than one occasion, people confused me as my younger brother’s dad. When I was a freshman in college, someone thought I was a dean.
Since I made such a “mature impression” on people through the years (of course, those who actually know me knew that maturity did not connect with how I would act sometimes), I am okay with finally reaching the age many have assumed I was.
The problem I have with being 46 involves trivia matters. Not trivial matters, there is a difference. Trivia is not trivial to me. Meaningless material matters much in my mind.
Being a sports nut, I have been fascinated with jersey numbers of famous athletes. I grew up loving the Tom Landry-era Dallas Cowboys. McDonald’s used to provide Dallas Cowboys team posters, and I would get one every year and study the jersey numbers of each Cowboy player in the annual team photo. It doesn’t come as easy to me now, but in order to remember people’s phone numbers, back in the day, I would use Dallas Cowboy players’ jersey numbers.
For example, during my college years, when we only needed to dial the on-campus four digits, I remembered my friend Beth’s dorm room phone number was Hershel Walker and Ed “Too Tall” Jones (3472).
It wasn’t just Dallas Cowboys. I would remember numbers of other athletes too, but I always favored Coach Landry’s teams, as well as OU Sooners, since I grew up watching both passionately.
So for the past few years, on my birthday, I would list on Facebook famous athletes who were known to wear the jersey number of the age I turned that day. It was fairly easy to do, and I had fun coming up with different athletes. Some friends would comment with ones I didn’t remember, and I enjoyed the input.
Here’s my dilemma. I was having a hard time coming up with athletes who wore 46. I remembered Chuck Muncie, running back for the San Diego Chargers during the “Air Coryell” years of the early 80s. Current Washington Redskin running back Alfred Morris also wears 46.
I succumbed to doing a Google search and came up with Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte and Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame reliever Lee Smith. My friend Curt helped by offering former OU linebacker Zach Latimer.
Since the number 46 is sparsely used in athletic competition, I looked to find other symbolic ways it may have been used. Starting out, my search was bleak. The number 46 doesn’t seem to get much love. I don’t even think it was ever a sponsor on Sesame Street.
However, again with help from friends. I did find some esteeming aspects to the number 46.
Being a native Oklahoman, I appreciated the fact that my home state is the 46th to join the Union. The number was even proudly displayed on the original state flag.
But the most encouraging discoveries involving the number 46 come from Scripture. One of my favorite verses is Phil. 4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
And then, one of the most quoted Psalms would be Psalm 46. Reading the characteristics of God in these 11 verses reminded me of God’s strength, power and support that He faithfully provides. “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble” (Ps. 46:1). “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10) is another source of encouragement.
So you see, even though my age may be a number not widely popular, frequently used or overly symbolic, I can still find solace in the scarce.