When I was twenty-six I started a novel about being a teenager and finally understanding, finally getting a grip on things. Now I’m thirty and trying to get it published.

When I’m forty I’ll write a novel about being thirty and finally comprehending what life is really all about.

When I’m fifty, if I’m still alive, I’ll write a novel about being forty and finally comprehending what life is really all about. It’ll be the best thing I will ever write in my lifetime.

When I’m sixty, again, pending survival, I’ll write a novel about being fifty and finally understanding what life is really all about. It will be trite, overwritten, and poorly edited. I should turn to writing children’s books instead, full of artful illustrations and adventurous eight-year-olds who have the courage to admit they don’t know a goddamn thing, that there will always be more to discover. I won’t, but I’ll know I should have.

When I’m seventy I’ll murmur out a plot about a sixty-year-old who finally figures things out, and my wife at the time will ghostwrite it for me so I don’t have to admit my fingers don’t work so good anymore, that years of squinting at a computer screen in a coffee shop have finally caught up to my eyes, that the only thing I can look at without getting a migraine are the waving branches of trees on the other side of the lake. The plot will involve lots of sex, with confused thirty-year-old married women, confused forty-year-old divorc√©es, and three-way trysts with confused coeds. The critics will slam me for it and lament that I didn’t die after the book I wrote when I was fifty. I will agree silently and then cash my check.

But right now I’m thirty, and there are no checks. There is no wife, and virtually no responsibility. I should be having sex with everyone.

I’m not, though.