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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

Midlife Crisis: Introduction

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

“Midlife Crisis, a Cockeyed, yet Painfully and Descriptively Accurate, while nonetheless Pleasantly Humorous Examination of and Upbeat Treatment for One of Mother Nature’s Little Practical Jokes” is mostly humorous, partly practical, and generally entertaining.

This essay is available in its entirety to all visitors. Enjoy!

Few mysteries are more confounding to the modern male than the phenomenon known as “midlife crisis.” Oh, your doctor can help you with “male patterned baldness,” or a nagging backache (“suffering sacroiliac,” as W.C. Fields once whined). Yes, the doctor can even help you with the dreaded “erectile dysfunction,” a fancy name for what we used to call... well, you know what we used to call it.

But few professionals in the medical field will do more than give lip service to the ailment that strikes just about every man, and more than a few women, at some time in their adult lifetime: midlife crisis.

Many people believe that midlife crisis is nothing more than a state of mind, a mental condition. “It’s all in your head,” they claim.

OK; but I could say the same thing about ADHD — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. We used to call that “inattentiveness,” “misbehaving,” or just plain “acting up.” Today the “experts” are spending billions of dollars to try to find out why kids (and adults) are inattentive. An Internet search reveals over 44 million references to ADHD — forty-four million!

But if some poor, middle-aged schlub earning $36,000 a year with $10,000 in credit card debt decides on a whim to lease a $65,000 Mercedes Benz, they say he is irresponsible.

Irresponsible? Of course. But it’s not him doing it; it’s his midlife crisis. The poor schlub is a victim!

That was the impetus that led me to write about midlife crisis. No, I am not the schlub leasing the Mercedes Benz. At the time I began writing, I was driving a 20 year-old Mazda with 500,000 miles on it. But Mother Nature’s little practical joke paid me a visit, nonetheless. This collection of stories documents my affliction with and eventual recovery from midlife crisis. Let not your heart be troubled, it has a happy ending. (Though, no; a Mercedes is not involved.)

An article in the UK Telegraph listed 40 signs of a midlife crisis:

1. Desiring a simpler life
2. Still going to music festivals
3. Start looking up old boyfriends or girlfriends on Facebook
4. Realise you will never be able to pay off your mortgage
5. Joining Twitter so your bosses think you ‘get’ digital
6. Excessively reminisce about your childhood
7. Take no pleasure in your friends’ successes
8. Splashing out on an expensive bicycle
9. Sudden desire to play a musical instrument
10. Fret over thinning hair
11. Take up a new hobby
12. Want to make the world a better place
13. Longingly look at old pictures of yourself
14. Dread calls at unexpected times from your parents (fearing the worst)
15. Go to reunion tours of your favourite bands from the 70s and 80s
16. Switch from Radio 2 to indie stations like 6 Music
17. Revisit holiday destinations you went to as a child
18. Cannot envisage a time when you will be able to afford to retire
19. Read obituaries in the newspapers with far greater interest — and always check how people die
20. Obsessively compare your appearance with others the same age
21. Start dyeing your hair when it goes grey
22. Stop telling people your age
23. Dream about being able to quit work but know that you’ll Just never be able to afford to
24. Start taking vitamin pills
25. Worry about being worse off in your retirement than your parents
26. Want different friends but don’t meet anyone new that you like
27. Think about quitting your job and buying a bed & breakfast or a pub
28. Flirt embarrassingly with people 20 years younger than you
29. Look up your medical symptoms on the internet
30. Start thinking about going to church but never act on it
31. Always note when politicians or business leaders are younger than you
32. Contemplate having a hair transplant or plastic surgery
33. Take out a direct debit for a charity
34. Can’t sleep because of work worries
35. Hangovers get worse and last more than a day
36. Constantly compare your career success with your friends
37. Worry about a younger person taking your job
38. Take up triathlons or another extreme sport
39. Find that you are very easily distracted
40. Realise that the only time you read books is when you are on holiday

Holy moly! That’s enough to turn any man’s hair gray! I could have checked off about half of those... when I was in my mid-twenties!

So, I think we need to be a bit more precise and discriminating in our definition of midlife crisis. A few specific, real-life examples should help move the dialog forward. I think that my stories offer an accurate representation.

“Midlife Crisis, a Cockeyed, yet Painfully and Descriptively Accurate, while nonetheless Pleasantly Humorous Examination of and Upbeat Treatment for One of Mother Nature’s Little Practical Jokes” is mostly humorous, partly practical, and generally entertaining.

Chapter 1, “The Defining Moment,” demonstrates how midlife crisis can creep up from behind and infect you.

Chapter 2, “The Saga Continues,” reveals how the floor can unexpectedly drop out from under you, worsening the condition.

Jamie escorted me to the back of the shop where she sat me down in front of a sink, spun me around 180 degrees, and began washing my hair. Now, I had never had anyone wash my hair for me – let alone in a public place. Was this legal?

But within 30 seconds, it didn’t matter; I was in ecstasy! When she finished, she took me to her personal station, and continued this royal treatment. She blow-dried my hair and began cutting and styling my flock of hair. This was fascinating. Soon, it didn’t matter which side I was on or who might see me. When she was done, I had a new hair style, a new friend, and a new way of life.

But as the Roger Whittaker song goes, “The end of the beginning’s... the beginning of the end.” No, this was destined not to last.

Chapter 3, “Fighting Back” offers one way to beat back the ravages of middle age and midlife crisis, and the downside of such efforts.

And there lies the crux of the problem. The beard-coloring treatment really made me look pretty good (relatively speaking). None of my friends, neighbors, or clients noticed or asked about it. The color matched my hair color perfectly. But every week or so, the roots came in gray, and I had to touch it up some more.

Chapter 4, “The Straight Scoop” provides an elementary, sober, layman’s explanation of what midlife crisis is, and offers reasonable steps to deal with it. Yes; there is a “happily ever after” ending.

If you are at the midpoint of your life and not satisfied with what you have accomplished, perhaps it is a good time to take stock and do something different. After the kids are out of college, you’ll still have another 30 years to do what you really want. Maybe it’s time to quit the rat race and start a small business on your own. Sure you might earn only a fraction of what you were before; but maybe you’ll be a lot happier, too. What’s stopping you?

There is some seriousness to it. After all, we are all potential victims. But I am not a doctor; and of course, no, I do not play one on TV. I am neither Dear Abby nor Dr. Laura. One look in the mirror will confirm that.

These stories do not constitute professional advice. But when you wake up one morning and, for no apparent reason, sense that something does not feel right... you feel old and uncomfortable for no good reason (there is only one good reason to feel old), you feel unfulfilled despite your successes in life... well, you are not alone.

Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.

You can purchase the e-book, “Midlife Crisis: A Cockeyed, yet Painfully and Descriptively Accurate, while nonetheless Pleasantly Humorous Examination of and Upbeat Treatment for One of Mother Nature’s Little Practical Jokes,here.

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