COLUMN: A pirate looks at 40

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Brandon Roberts

In a sermon at church one Sunday, my pastor, Rocky Branch, was talking about the overall decline of people attending church. He asked for everyone in the congregation under 40 years old to stand up. So, I did. A much older (wink) Hank Phillips turned around, looked at me and snickered a little. 

After church, I asked Hank about his reaction, and he told me I was no more under 40 than he was. I was 38 at the time.

The title of this column is very fitting. It pays homage to my high school’s mascot, the Belfry Pirates, as well as to my favorite Jimmy Buffet song. It’s also accurate.

I celebrated my 40th birthday, Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, and so far it’s not much different than 39 or how I anticipate 41 will be. The truth is part of me has always been and will always be old, and part of me always has been and will always be young. The older part of me hasn’t missed an episode of Jeopardy! since the fourth grade, and the younger part of me raps 90s hip-hop songs and plays Green Day on the guitar. The older part of me watches every documentary that comes on TV, and the younger part of me watches Saved By the Bell marathons. The older part of me reads a book every week, while the younger part of me scours the internet for an early 1990s Mazda B2200 like the one I had in high school. 

People say we are only as old as we feel, which, if true, I’m much older than 40. If we are only as old as we look, then I’ll be sure and avoid bringing that topic up around Hank. If we are only as old as we act, then my age is determined by a myriad of factors and fluctuates by the hour.

As I enter into my second week of being 40 I have determined, so far, it’s not such a bad age to be. At least I’m at an age where I did all my stupid stuff before everyone had smartphones. 

Brandon Roberts is the publisher and editor of the Mitchell News-Journal. He can be reached by email at or by calling 828-765-7169.