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I’ve noticed many of my friends going through a mid-life crisis in a variety of neurotic ways. I believe you’re about my age; how are you handling the shift into middle age? – Jerry M.
Depends what you mean by middle age. I’m 40. So when forecasting my expiration date, which none of us can ever really know, it’d be short-sighted for me not to factor in as yet undiscovered advances in medical science. Keeping in mind that 40 years ago, there were still no vaccines for chicken pox, meningitis, or hepatitis A. Smallpox hadn’t been eradicated, nor had a test-tube baby been born. The point being, they’re getting better at this stuff all the time. These are the days of miracle and wonder, as Paul Simon sang in 1986, ten years before they cloned Dolly the sheep.
Plus, with the antioxidant power of my staple superfood (guacamole), I just assume I’ll live to 160, give or take a few years. Meaning I’m less “middle-aged,” than 25 percent aged. Since AARP now offers membership at age 50, I could potentially be facing 110 years of senior discounts at Denny’s, breakfasts that if you ate them regularly, would surely kill you by age 55, rendering everything else I just said moot. Also, since the Social Security fund will probably be depleted by the time I’m a senior, I’ll likely be praying for death by about age 64. Either that, or applying for a job as a Denny’s greeter, just to make enough scratch to buy cat food for dinner. So there’s that to look forward to.
Other than the coming Armageddon, however, I think I’m aging with enough grace to get by. Since my car is a classic (a 2005 Honda Accord), I finally put the spoiler on and took the muffler off, because ladies like to hear a jungle cat roar. And while my wife is a looker, I try not to let her trap me in the present, which will soon be the past. Instead, I look to the future, occasionally dropping by obstetrics wards in hospitals, figuring my trophy wife is probably being born right about now. (Aging gracefully, the literature tells us, is all about maintaining healthy relationships.)
I know what you mean, however, about friends acting out. This is the time of life when an ungodly amount of people begin having affairs, getting ridiculous cosmetic surgery, and defacing themselves with bad tattoos. It’s a tiresome arms race, and pointless besides. Not only are all the people you know — even the ridiculously young ones — getting older by the minute. But now that everyone is committed to the appearance of eternal youth at all costs, there’s no cachet in being young anymore. I know a lot of 40-year-old women who are in better shape than their 20-year-old counterparts. Hell, I know 50-year-old women of whom that’s true, since they didn’t spend their entire youth super-sizing their fries, while counting Facebook updating as cardio.
So if you’re striving to hold onto your youthful appearance — big deal. Who isn’t? You want to break new ground? You want to be ahead of the curve? Embrace your age. In fact, pretend you’re even older. Old is the new young. Lunge lustily into it. Vacation in Branson. Start forgetting friends’ names. Wear socks and sandals to the beach, with a tacky straw sun hat and lots of zinc-oxide on your nose. Whistle in public (nobody does anymore). Wear rose-scented perfume.
If you’re 40, in no time, you’ll pass for 80 – an age that we optimists call “halftime.”