I realized today that I’m going to have to choose my midlife crisis in about 360 days. As far as I’ve been made aware, when a male turns 40 you’re issued a few new things you’ll need as you embark on this new chapter of your life.
- Gray pubes
- Timeshare points redeemable at 15 locations around the globe
- A lifetime supply of antacid tablets because everything you eat will make you hate life from now on
- A menu of options for your midlife crisis
Some guys turn 40 and buy a sports car. Some guys turn 40 and blow up their families, start new families, and then in about fifteen years wonder why everyone from Family One has stopped talking to them and most of Family Two is apathetic toward them. Some guys turn 40 and start base jumping or skydiving. A midlife crisis can take any number forms, but in the end they’re all a kind of self-medicating meant to distract us or make us feel better about the fact that there’s probably less time ahead of us than behind us.
And here I am, completely unsure which midlife crisis path I want to choose. Personally, I’ve been driving since I turned 16, and I’ve grown less and less enamored with it, so I don’t think I need a sports car. I’m really lucky to be a part of a family that I have no desire or intention to blow up, and so that’s off the table too. My fear of heights means no skydiving.
Some recent satire of mine:
So, shit. What am I supposed to do for my midlife crisis? What irrational decisions can I make based on a feeling of watching my time on this planet tick ever further away? And, while we’re talking about it — are irrational decisions made in your middle age years always all bad? What if we take stock of our lives and figure out we’re running out of time to put our oars down and row our boats in the direction we want to go? Some of the most important and spectacular achievements and milestones in humankind have been accomplished by someone after they turn 40, and many times as the result of some decisions some might have called irrational or not all that well thought out.
In all candor, I have most certainly found myself lately staring at the abyss of the unknown, the future, and wondering if now is the time to go big or go home. Or, perhaps, is there another cliche or overused axiom I can use to justify my decision to attempt to drastically alter the course my life is headed?
Is that really a midlife crisis, or a midlife epiphany?
And so, I’m left without a midlife crisis to call my own. I mean, I’m probably 30 or pounds heavier than I want to be, so I can use my midlife crisis as a reason to get all hardcore into fitness, and get super ripped. I have always wanted to know what it feels like to say to someone, “I’m really proud of my delts, but my lats and quads still need hella work, fam.” Maybe I should make my midlife crisis getting healthy, losing more weight, and generally taking better care of myself.
But goddamn that sounds a like a lot of work, and part of turning the corner on 40 is that you get to give up, right?
I’ve been talking about this whole midlife crisis thing from the standpoint of mostly males having them, but it does make me wonder — do women have them? Why don’t we see more middle aged women buying Maseratis and ditching their husband for a kid who’s two years out of college? Is it just that Hollywood and the entertainment industrial complex hasn’t given women of a certain age enough of a platform to broadcast their own midlife crises and anxieties? Or is it that women are, typically, the ones left picking up the pieces of some dude’s midlife crises and therefore literally too busy for their own? I suppose both could be true, but c’mon! When has Hollywood ever shied away from giving women a platform, besides always and forever?
Hell, am I being too binary in my thinking on that regard? Like, what happens among couple that are two dudes of the same relative age? Do they have two midlife crises simultaneously? For that matter, how many people end up actually having a midlife crisis in the first place? Are there people out there who are so okay with their own mortality that they just mark middle age like they do anything else?
What a bunch of enlightened, healthy assholes they are.
Truth to be told, in one form or another I’ve been living in an existential crisis for as long as I can remember. I joke that I’m not worried about having a midlife crisis because I’ve been in a whole-life crisis. I was programmed with “answers” to life’s great questions — what does it mean and where do we go when we leave? But I haven’t accepted those answers as fact in quite some time, and so for much of my life I’ve ping-ponged from casual acceptance of mortality to outright fear of it, to a place of largely ignoring it. Which means, boy, death is gonna sneak the fuck up on me in the most hilarious and terrifying way.
And…I still don’t have midlife crisis picked out! What am I going to do? I need to find some way to remind myself that I’m getting older while still embracing the last vestiges of youthful vim and vigor that I have. But, ugh, nothing sounds all that interesting to me as a midlife crisis…at least nothing seems as entertaining as my day to day arguments and bargaining sessions with my conscience.If you haven’t felt sorry for me by this stage in this piece, I don’t know what else I can do. Clearly this is a “woe is James” moment, right?
I’m sure I’ll figure it out by the time I turn 40. I still have more than 350 days to figure out what irrational new set of behaviors I’m going to display in order to avoid thinking about my life being at least half over. Maybe I’ll do something so irrational it works out for the better, and maybe I won’t, and just end up being one of the billions of people who never quite figure it out.
Maybe I’ll just collect every single piece of Han Solo merchandise I can find. Yeah! That’s it! Innocent, fun, and shouldn’t be too expensive! Perfect!
Oh wait. Shit. I already do that. Back to the drawing board.
Until tomorrow, thanks for reading.
Catch up on the rest of my “Countdown to 40” entries HERE.
Some more recent satire of mine:
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.