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
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
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
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.
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.