Turning 39 for the second time never felt so good

Dino Dave’s Adventures By ‘dinodave’ Fuqua
Thursday, October 22, 2020
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“What are we going to do for your 40th birthday?” My friend Russ asked me as we put our bowling balls away. I recently picked up bowling again because I figured it was the best way to keep my childhood dreams of becoming a professional athlete still alive.

The question was tough to take. The depression of turning 40 filled my soul like a deflated black balloon. I was just about to give him a pitiful, self-loathing answer when something happened. It was as if Ponce de Leon woke me up with a splash of his fountain of youth water. “Wait a minute ... I think I have an idea! When planes fly across The International Date Line heading west, they actually lose a day. If they left on Tuesday, they would arrive on a Thursday. What if we crossed the International Dateline the day of my birthday? We would thus lose that day and I could stay 39 another year? If someone asks me how old I was, I’d just say I’ve had 39 birthdays!”

Russ’s eyes got big and he jumped up out of his seat. “Genius! Dave…you’re a genius! Where should we go?”

“Well, I’ve never been to Japan, I think Japan is across the dateline somewhere.”

“Done!” Russ replied, “The even better news is I don’t have to buy you a present!”

​We called up our other travel buddy Dave and asked if he wanted to go. It didn’t matter what country I said, he would always say yes. Years earlier, I asked both of them if they wanted to go to Belize with me. They both gave an enthusiastic “Absolutely! Then a pause: What’s Belize?”

True to form Dave thought my Ponce de Leon “Vacation of Youth” idea was brilliant. He asked his wife. She yelled in the background, “Can we go to Thailand too since we are over there? I’ve always wanted to ride an elephant.”

Russ and I thought that was a great idea also and thus we planned our trip across the international dateline exactly on what would have been my 40th birthday.

​While making my itinerary I made one more request to Russ. “Russ, we have to spend ‘One Night in Bangkok’!” Anyone who had an 80’s childhood will understand, and Russ once again called me a genius. It would be our last stop after Japan and Phuket, Thailand.

​Mount Fuji, Tokyo, elephants, noodles, and no birthday cake. So far not turning 40 had been a resounding success.

Our last stop before going home was to see the magnificent ‘Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ in the heart of Bangkok. The red, gold and green pillars of Thai architecture conjured awe and reverence. Along the outside of the sacred temple gates there were several vendors hoping to lure a passing by tourist. I wasn’t interested, but then I walked by a particular vendor. He had raggedy clothes and sat between two very large vendors. He only had a few things for sale that were displayed on a carpet the size of chess board. It was as if he was a hot dog stand between two Walmarts. The larger vendors barked at me, “Wat Yu Look for! I have here!” they would say in broken English, but I ignored them. Something compelled me towards the ragged man with only a few trinkets for sale. Like a Beverly Hills housewife I got this uncontrolled urge to buy something and I HAD to buy from this man. There was a rock necklace on his carpet with the name “Dragon’s Tooth”. If he had named the same rock something like “Monkey Ear” I wouldn’t have cared, but I thought Dragon’s Tooth was cool, so I asked him how much and I didn’t even barter. I was now a proud owner of a necklace called Dragon’s Tooth from Thailand. I thanked him with a “Kap Kun Kap!” and started to walk away when the man did something peculiar. He said some words in Thai, then with a rolled-up paper tapped the rest of his trinkets one by one and blessed each of his items for sale. He then noticed the curious look in my eye and rather bashfully said in his own broken English, “It da Buddha prayer of money.”

​I then thought about the incredible odds, that some guy from the other side of the world who happened to like rocks and hate birthdays would buy a rock necklace from this man.

I then thought about his prayer. I didn’t believe in the Buddha’s prayer of money, but it didn’t matter. Whether I believed in Christianity, Allah, Buddha, Darwin or Tae Kwon Do, it just didn’t matter. I now realized, that I had just become an answer to a prayer.

The necklace had a different meaning now. The Dragons Tooth was no longer a $10 trinket, but instead an answer to a man’s prayer. I now saw all my choices and future choices differently. It gave me a feeling and a sense of how everything in this world is connected. Every choice becoming like a rock splashing in a pond creating ripples that affect the rest of the pond.

I began to feel more at peace turning 40. It was ok to turn 40 now. Well not now, next year, because being 39 again never felt so good. Genius!

Dave Fuqua is a Glendive native. You can find out more about him at dinodaveadventures.com. He can be reached at Makoshikadave@gmail.com.