I had a birthday the other day, not a key one -- like 21 or 40 or 75 -- but it reminded me (once again) that I have moved, ineluctably, out of my flapper years one step closer to middle age, or worse.

I celebrated it by recording some of my observations about the laws of nature and humans, which I call my "Middle Age Maxims":

1. It is definitely -- and still -- a man's world, especially and specifically in the world of romance. Women almost always are the ones who get dumped, especially women over 30 (even if they're gorgeous, divine, rich, thin). The woman who runs away from a despairing husband and lives happily ever after with her adoring lover is the exception. Most women are loved and left.

2. It's the pits to be single after 40 if you're a woman. It's fabulous to be single if you're 40 and a man. Men can take out women 20 years younger and be considered bon vivant; women dating men 20 years younger are assumed to have lost their marbles.

3. Divorced men -- regardless of how much alimony they pay -- have it easier than divorced women. After the marriage is over, women must stay home for a "mourning" period (as though someone died). Men find a nurse or secretary to take out before they've found a new apartment.

4. If you want something badly enough, you won't get it. This is true of a new job, marriage proposal, or a call from the plumber saying he's coming over to fix the leak.

5. Parents always prefer the child who ignores them -- once they are grown. The son or daughter who slaves over parents' welfare receives second billing when the prodigal comes on the scene.

6. Half the people getting married for the first time marry the person their parents dislike the most; the other half marry the one parents most approve of. They are divorced in equal proportion.

7. As soon as a good television series is put on the air, the network cancels it.

8. If you're trying to impress someone with how many important people you know, it's inevitable they -- the celebrities -- won't recognize you. If you don't want to see anyone, the five biggest creeps from college will spot you across a crowded room.

9. You can't live a life according to your horoscope. I've never received financial remuneration or made a new friend when my horoscope said I would.

10. Parking lot attendants never can find cars for people late for appointments. If you're late to take your child to the doctor, attendants are on Level Six eating lunch. If you're early, they bring the car right up.

11. If there's a discrepancy between your bookkeeping and the bank's, you're always wrong.

12. Department stores are always out of your size -- if the item is critical.

13. Last year's clothes didn't shrink; you got bigger. No exotic strain of moths is summering in your attic, downsizing your winter clothes.

14. You can't be a success unless you work weekends (although working weekends is no guarantee).

15. The basic difference between men and women is that men spend most of their spare time thinking about themselves; women spend theirs thinking about their men.

16. If you don't expect too much of other people, you won't be disappointed.

And now, after compiling this list, would I -- if I knew "then" what I know now -- have acted any differently?