So, guess who is turning 40 on Tuesday? Yep. I am this old. (But, I have put up this photo to demonstrate that, in the right light and in the right outfit, still looking okay.)
I think what you do on your 40th and whether you bother doing anything special is a very personal thing. Maybe somewhat cultural, too. I have been told recently by a few Russians that it was a bad luck to have a celebration of any sort. But I, despite having lived this long, have never heard of such bullshit excuse not to have a party, thus was not going to pay any attention.
As far as I always knew, 40 was a big deal. And the time to celebrate. However you fancy, or can afford to, really. But in any case, it had to be special.
A friend of mine in New York had his on a private boat and took a huge offence when I did not attend it. To him, the 40th party was big enough of a deal for me to spend a fortune jumping on an air plane and flying London-New York to be there. I wished I could have gone, but it might have been a little too extravagant for me at the time.
Another friend hired a restaurant in London and hosted a beautiful dinner party for about 20 friends. But, most of my friends who turned 40 before me went for a big party option.
So, after some deliberation (which included other options for a smaller group of friends only) I went for the big party, too. Thankfully, our villa in Doha is enormous, and there would be no issue with space. You see, one of my reasons to have it at home was that I did not then have to restrict the numbers. I could invite people I liked but perhaps did not see that often, for whatever reasons. I felt like I should make some effort for my 40th, you know? Spend money, treat my friends, throw them a fun party!
What I know now (and I can't believe that it took me this long, i.e. till I am middle aged, to learn this) is that, if you want to know what people really think of you, invite them to your 40th party and see who shows up.
The people who did not bother showing up split into two categories:
Category No. 1 waited till the actual day to tell me their plans have changed and they now had something more important on. Some of them had pretty good excuses, some- really lame ones. That also showed if they cared enough to come up with a decent excuse. Like someone who told me they had a car crush on their way to our house. I mean, that could have actually happened! In fact, I believe it did, because, throughout my 40 years of experience in the lying and bullshit area, I have not heard this one yet. (Also, we are in Doha and car crushes are pretty common) And even if it did not happen, I respect the guy for making up such a cool story. I mean, that shows a certain ( tiny) degree of respect, right?
Category No. 2 however, I was quite shocked with. Those were the people who said they were definitely coming only to then not show up. Without as much as a text message to apologise. "Oh, this is just so Doha!" Someone told me. "You invite 20 and can expect either 10 or 50 on the night. People will not tell you if they are not coming, neither will they tell you if they are bringing 5 friends along.'
In the end though, it was a good party, even with only 30 guests instead of the 45 I actually catered for. With a shisha man at the front of the house and a shawarma man at the back yard and some cool cake pops that I agonised over for a week or so. And I loved my 40th party. I loved the fact that enough people cared to come. I loved the fact that they got me some lovely, thoughtful gifts. I loved the fact that they all said it was a fab party. And the icing on the cake is that now, after the party, I know who thinks what of me. You can tell that not just from what they give you for a gift (because, just like in dating a man, that is always a good clue to see if they value the relationship!) but also from whether they bothered to show up! What an easy test, really.