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When it comes to age milestones, which represents the best of our lives?

People have a tendency to label certain birthdays "milestones." You know the ones: those ending in zero (the birthdays, not the people). It's not clear why a particular day merits such a designation, other than to remind us that each so-called "milestone" brings us closer to a headstone. Maybe it's the notion of decades that bestows a zero with such significance. (Or the concept of zero that, oh, never mind.) For those of us who don't have a linear concept of time, none of it makes sense.

Since I was busy trying to make sense out of something far more banal--Italian toilets--when the Tucson Weekly's Best of TucsonTM assignments were handed out, and because I experienced a personal milestone shortly after returning to Arizona, it seems a "best decade" column makes a perfect fit with this week's issue.

Our first 10 years are clearly not our best. Completely at the mercy of others, the odds are stacked against us should our "primary caregivers" shut us up with Twinkies and Coke each time we whimper for attention.

Besides not learning good eating habits, we'll forever carry around gobs of cellulite and spend the rest of our lives wasting oodles of time and money in desperate attempts to be rid of the wrinkle-embossed fat.

The years between 10 and 20 are fraught with soul-wrenching angst, the kind that leads to tortured poetry and a complete lack of clothing sense. Hormones, acne, menstruation, masturbation, peer pressure, parental pressure, school pressure, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, "adults" are telling us to enjoy ourselves. After all, these are "the best years of life." Don't bet on it.

Twenty to 30 are perilous years indeed. An "official" adult, the expectations grow exponentially while decisions become "serious and life-altering." Never mind that the decisions we make probably have more to do with whether we were fed hormone-laden hot dogs by an indifferent adult at age 2, or made-from-scratch falafel by a loving parent. To add to the mix, if we don't approach the desired standard of "attractive," we may not be getting our minimum requirement of sex. And we all know (I hope) the healing powers of sex. But that's another column.

The next decade might well be called "pressure redux." If we are not married, we may be scrambling to do so. If we are married, we may be trying to figure a way out. Career types may start wondering about choices made. Time to ponder where we are and where we want to be, not to mention what our teenager is up to.

Between 40 and 50, we may have gone through a number of relationships, a partner or two (or more), several children (some of whom are even our own) and who knows how many speed bumps on the way to career bliss. By this time, our parents are aging while our children are moving back home since they can't land a job paying enough for both rent and food. Not our best decade.

The next 10 years may be our first introduction to the anti-aging industry, one promising--if not immortality--at least a "more youthful visage." Remember those lazy days spent carousing in the Arizona sun with nary a thought to sunscreen, hats or the hole in the ozone? Get to a dermatologist and be prepared to pay for profligate days toasting naked at high noon. And while we're at it, what's with the cracking bones?

By the time we hit 60, we should consider our own Survivor story. It's only with the arrival of what historians call the "Modern Age" that humans have lived so many decades. And for sound reason: We've either propagated or not. In either case, biologically speaking, we are done. Technology may have us popping babies at any age, and men who can still get it up may be able to contribute tired old sperm, but really: Sound-minded adults in their sixth decade do not produce children.

Statistically, if we're alive at 60, we are likely to still be around at 70 and maybe 80. Cheers. By now, no one--other than equally old people--is talking with us since, as a stroll through any mall in America will tell you: youth rules.

Between 80 and 90, if our brains are functioning, we make it to the toilet on our own, still find the humor in life and have maintained our capacity to laugh at ourselves, we can consider ourselves successful. This could be our best 10 years.

Or maybe we should ignore decades and milestones--and even birthdays--and live each moment in each decade as our best moment.

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