The Mid-Life Crisis FAQ

It was recently brought to my attention that I turned forty. The friend (and I struggle not to enclosed friend in quotes) who brought this up was extremely interested in what kind of mid-life crisis I would be having. I informed him that I would not be having a mid-life crisis because I already had one. Having a second mid-life crisis seems a little overindulgent.
The important thing to remember about having a mid-life crisis is that, like snowflakes and car accidents, each is unique. There is no set pattern to the form and direction or to the start date. Back in the '80s, there was a push in the White House to mandate that mid-life crisis start two weeks after a man's fortieth birthday and continue for a period of no more than two years. This effort was shunted aside in favor of exchanging arms for hostages.

Q: What is a mid-life crisis?
A: The term "mid-life crisis" means different things to different people. Men, almost invariably, do not believe in mid-life crisis. They may joke about going through a mid-life crisis, but like Arthur Anderson, they don't actually see what's happening for what it is.
The typical mid-life crisis generally starts with the feeling that your soul has been irretrievably sucked from your body. There are any number of reasons for this feeling to occur.

1) If you have children, it's because you have children.
2) If you don't have children, it's because you don't have children.
3) If you're married, it's because you're married.
4) If you're not married, it's because you're not married.

In another words, everything you have is nothing that you want.
However, this is only the symptom. What about the cause?

Q: What causes a mid-life crisis?
A: The most common trigger is the woman in her early 20's (or younger) you pass one day on the street that looks at you with disgust and disdain. The look she gives you crumbles the fragile cliff of conceit that you've clung to. "You are a troll and not fit to walk the earth among actual humans", it says. If you are gay, substitute the appropriate gender.
It is important to note that this look is not in any way connected to your waning physical appearance. You may be Jim Fixx incarnate. You may jog 5 miles a day, every day, Sundays and holidays included. Your abs may be flat as West Texas. Your hair may be not contain one iota of gray (real or artificial). Strangers may tell you that you don't look a day over 25. But twenty-five is a day too old.

Q: How do I know if I'm in my mid-life crisis?
A: You might have a vague feeling that it's happening, but it's a gradual process, like putting the frog on a pan of water and slowly heating the pan until the frog is boiled.

Q: It can't really be all about sex, can it?
A: Of course not! Sex may play a part in it, but it's mainly about vanity. The dirty little secret is that men are much more vain than women. The difference is that with women the vanity is overt and men...well, men don't have that luxury.
Women's beauty products are all above board; mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, blush...all of it is over the counter and easily purchased. A woman who dyes her hair is woman who dies her hair. A man who dyes his hair, however, is a completely different thing. How easy is it to find a nose hair clipper? And, chillingly, what does a man do about eyebrow, back or ear hair? Men are not prepared for the morning they wake up and find themselves looking like Bilbo Baggins.

Q: What does my spouse expect?
A: Your wife has undoubtedly heard the horror stories of other wives and possibly their own mother. Untold numbers of books, magazine articles and shows on both Lifetime and Oxygen have been produced on how to deal with your husband's mid-life crisis. What do they advise? How the hell should I know?!

Q: So it's OK for me to have an affair?
A: Let's harken back to the marriage vows you took. The "forsaking all others" clause is fairly explicit. The agreement was not to fuck ANYone except her.

Q: Is it OK to fuck the babysitter?
A: While I risk coming off puritanical, the answer is an emphatic, no. While you can get away with and be forgiven for much during your personal journey through hell, babysitters should be regarded as off-limits. Babysitters, using a standard age guideline of a girl 12-17, as most police departments will tell you, are jailbait and jailbait is illegal. The singer, Louis Jordan, said it best when he said "that chicks too young to fry/Send her back to the barnyard." A helpful rule of thumb, also used in many businesses, is if she doesn't have at least a high-school diploma, she's not worth the risk. Women over 18 generally prefer the term "child-care" or nanny and are much more expensive.

For Women

Q: The only movie my husband will watch is American Beauty. What should I do?
A: There are those who propose weaning him off it by suggesting Burt Reynolds movies from the 70's or perhaps the Die Hard trilogy. I don't agree with them. The best solution, in my opinion, is to tell him a gay man wrote it. This should disabuse him of the notion that it's the only movie that "really gets it right."

Q: Should I take it upon myself to drive the babysitter home?
A: Tough question. The important thing to realize is that if he plans to deflower (or re-deflower) the babysitter there is very little you can do to prevent it. If it makes you feel more comfortable to drive the babysitter home and it can be accomplished without bloodshed, then certainly. If, however, it threatens to turn into a tug of war with the babysitter in the middle, then you should back off immediately. The last thing you need is a bad rep with the babysitter.

Q: Are there any strategies that are effective?
A: You might try to mirror his behavior back to him. If he wants a sports car, rather than argue that it's a needless expense, you might make a bargain that he can have it if you can get the Harley you wanted since you were 16. Another tactic is to identify a physical or personal trait of the babysitter and emulate it. Does she have her eyebrow pierced? Casually mention you were thinking about piercing your eyebrow - because it looks good on the babysitter. Does she talk like an idiot? Try talking like an idiot. When asked why, tell him that he seems to like it when the babysitter talks like that.


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