Friday, February 1, 2013

A Well-Planned Midlife Crisis

Every life has a handful of turning points: times when, due to choice or luck or circumstances, things go one way instead of another. People, being people, often like to quantify these moments - to mark them, and celebrate them, and ritualize them: birthdays, for example, or graduations. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, except that some of the most significant turning points are only recognizable after the fact - while some of the points that we have rituals to mark turn out not to be terribly significant at all.

To pick a personal example: the Beautiful Wife and I have passed our Ten Year Anniversary as a married couple. This is, for some people, a very deal - an entire decade together! For us, well, it wasn't that big a deal. We might have missed it entirely if something else hadn't reminded us. (In fact, I think that part of the reason we're still together is that we both have a very One Day At A Time approach to being married. Well, that and a good sense of humor.) For us, the really big one was our third anniversary, probably because that's almost exactly how long my Supposed Former Marriage lasted.

Sometimes, though, you can see one of these moments coming. Right now, for example... well, I'm about to turn forty; the Beautiful Wife and I have decided that we are absolutely not having any more children; I still have a steady job, one that barring some sort of catastrophe I'll be able to retire from; and the boys are getting old enough to be involved in school and other outside-the-house sorts of things. So, clearly - unmistakeably, irrefutably - it's time to start planning my midlife crisis.

Now, I know what you're probably thinking: there are plenty of people who have their midlife crises without any sort of planning at all. Well, I don't hold with that. If I'm going to have a midlife crisis, I'm gonna do it right.

The first step is to get a new vehicle. It will need to be something sleek, fast, and sporty - something purchased in complete defiance of the possibility that I'll ever need to take the kids anywhere. Also, ideally, it should be something that really isn't designed to be driven safely. I've checked to see how much my bank is willing to loan me, and together with the savings in my account it looks like I can afford a very nice, brand new, top of the line skateboard. So that part is covered.

Step Two, traditionally, is to trade in your wife or girlfriend for a better model. I kind of cheated on this one, since I married the perfect woman in the first place; if you start at the top of the line in the first place, there's no such thing as a better model. So I'm already covered on this one.

Step Three is where it gets tricky. At this point, the goal is to recapture my youth, or get in touch with my Inner Manliness, or reinvent myself as someone new, hip, and radical. Possibly all three at once. So, for the next year, I'll be living in a cave in the woods with nothing but my wits to rely on, eating only what I can kill for myself, wearing only my own hand-crafted clothing, and learning to commune with the bats. (Catching rabies is completely optional.) I'll also need my laptop, so I can use this experience to become a famous author. Oh, and I'll need alcohol in order to get any writing done, so it'll probably have to be a cave in the woods near a particularly charitable brewery.

Finally, of course, I'll return home having recaptured the primal essence of myself. I can picture the triumphant return already, as I come zooming fearlessly into the driveway on my sleek and powerful skateboard, hermit's beard flapping in the wind behind me, wearing a loincloth that I painstakingly crafted for myself from tree bark and poison ivy, with bats nesting in my hair and my soon-to-bestselling manuscript tucked lovingly under one arm. There I'm met by my adoring wife and beaming children, who have naturally spent our year apart pining for my return; while reporters and literary agents circle the yard, hoping for the barest moment of my time.

Trust me. That's exactly how it will go.


  1. Nah, for alcohol, you need to turn to that grand old American tradition: moonshine.


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