Now that the Bat Miztvah is over we Sankarys, or rather this Sankary, can focus on my next major milestone. The Mid Life Crisis. I’ve been putting this off for several years now because I’m neurotic enough with my hypochondria, healthy sense of doom and bouts of melancholy I’ve been plagued with since my parents first told me that I was a wonderful baseball player in spite of going Oh for the Third grade and being the first seven year old to happily ride the pine for last 9/10ths of the Jr Babe Ruth baseball season.
Lesson was, people lie, even parents lie and if they lie G-d only knows what else they’re capable off, and therefore, I always sleep with one eye open. Which probably has more to do with my sleep apnea issues that anything else.
What’s prompting all this introspection of late? Could be this morning as I was staring at the ass end of a weevil sticking out of my shredded wheat as it sat on my spoon, a thought that came to mind, how did I get to this? Not the bug in the cereal, how did it get to the point that I’m happily gobbling down the worlds worst cereal in order to increase my fiber intake.
Fiber being just one of list of things I never thought much about back the good old days.
Achieving middle age brings on a lot of new, and not always positive or beneficial thoughts. I don’t remember thinking about stuff in my 20’s, no brains/no headaches was one recipe for joy. The morons I know seem to be having more fun in life than the thinkers. Harsh truth.
I have more time on my hands to think about shit these days it seems. Hell, just waiting for my birth year to scroll up while filling in online forms is good for about a half hour a day.
So, what does an old guy think about? Well, there’s always the Big Chill Syndrome. The first time an acquaintance, no matter how distant, goes down with a heart attack or some serious cancer, especially the back door variety for men, it seems to set into motion a self destructive chain of thinking that makes getting up every morning and every trip to the can an exercise in self diagnostics, even if the answer is “whew, all clear”.
I remember when I didn’t even know there was an obituary page in the paper much less find myself pissed off reading it because some obit for some stranger who just happened to be about my age failed to include cause of death in the copy. When did I start obsessing about cause of death? When I started thinking about my own, that’s when.
I wanna check off causes of death that I don’t think I need to worry about. There’s some solace in learning that most people my age are cacking from something other then something I can get. “Died of Ebola after a trip to Congo”.. I’m safe from that.. it’s been ages since I shared an elevator with anyone who was bleeding out through every orifice. However, I hear about the neighbors brothers neighbor in Iowa who collapsed after shoveling the driveway some winter day and BAM.. I gotta sit down ‘cause the room is swirling.
Whenever I read about heart attacks or the dreaded ass cancer, it’s like the reaper’s already at the front door. Clearly it’s a control issue, those hidden diseases are like a thief in the night, you never see them coming. Ironically “was killed in car accident”, a cause of death for people my age that occurs at a much higher rate than either heart attack, cancer or ebola, doesn’t even phase me because, well the middle aged brain can easily rationalize that one away because I’m a good driver and that’s never going to happen to me.
Have another bowl of fiber I think I feel something growing…
Here’s another Middle Age Curse- I’ll call it the curse of wisdom. Wisdom that comes from experience is curse when you’re dealing with people who haven’t benefited from years of experience. I hate to be right sometimes all the time, especially when the only possible outcome of a given situation is bad.
Case in point, kid bought himself an Audi. Being old and wise I knew two bad things were going to come of this. 1) He would buy the car no matter what I said or did and 2) it would be an expensive car for a college kid with no job to afford. So I said the three magic words of wisdom; “Please. Don’t. Stop.”
I said them quietly so as not to get myself in trouble because nobody’s going to listen anyway, but for the sake of my eternal soul I have to pretend to make an effort sometimes. And then when the kid finds out an oil change is $503.00 and new sparkplugs are $106 each and that they can only be installed by guys named Dieter who make more in a minute than dear old dad does in week, it’s so very hard to suck it up look down and offer the other three magic words wisdom “I was right”.
Which sound a lot like “I told you so”, a phrase that Mrs S has some genetic modification which enables her to sense those words from a mile away, EVEN before I can even form them on my lips.
And the reaction is always swift and terrible.
However, here’s an interesting benefit I found in Middle Age, the Marital Power Shift. I’ve learned two things about marriage and power. There’s a lot of power in marriage and I don’t much of it. Almost no one my gender does, and according to my father, never will except.. the moron crowd. And since I’ve already established that they’re happier than the rest of us..
But in our middle age we can hope, cautiously for course, to achieve détente.
Here’s how this typically happens. There’s only a couple things in a marriage that folks consistently fight about I’ve noticed, sex and money. And typically one partner is very concerned about one, and the other partner is very concerned about the other, and no one is good at both. Not that I’m suggesting anything about my marriage, but I’ve done an enormous amount of field research in this area, typically employing alcohol to ensure accuracy. The data I’ve accumulated has come through countless interviews and surveys I’ve conducted over the years. It would be my pleasure to share with you what I’ve observed.
There is 99.05% correlation between gender and thing a partner cares about, sex or money. I don’t want to give away the results ‘cause you might stop reading, it might be a surprise for someone.
The Power Shift as I call it, typically occurs in ones mid 40’s. In one seminal moment the marriage changes completely. It happens like this, the female partner will, as they say “make a move”, initiate whoppie what ever you want to call it, and the male partner will say some version of the following
“not tonight, I’m getting up early” or some other excuse.
And you thought you felt the earth move before.
For the dude words I’ve heard to describe this are “emancipated”, “free”, my friend Eric said “the shackles came off”. In his case I’m not sure we were talking about the same thing as he’d been drinking and I’m pretty sure I saw fur lined handcuffs under his sofa years ago.
For women the experience is very different. Most of them haven’t been turned down since before they were married, and this event is often the trigger for their own little mid-life crises. Where as we men look for motorcycles, fast cars or au pairs with poor eyesight and expensive tastes to regain the feelings of our youth, the female mid life crisis is different. It involves a lot of glances at their behinds and upper arms in the mirror and engaging intense study of their upper lips for some reason. That and they start calling their mothers for advice for the first time in 20 years.
What’s the big deal? One of the subjects I interviewed noted, “we spend 25 years working out a perfectly good system of rewards and all of a sudden HE decides he wants to go for a bike ride instead?” Another one of my wives friends summed her feelings on her first “not tonight” event; all I could think was how in the hell am I going to get anything done around here anymore.
You’re going to get things done the same way we men have done it, through open and honest negotiations. This could be one of the few benefits of getting older.