For the purposes of this article, let’s say there are two types of people in the world. The first kind, when entering their forties, think, “Wow. Statistically, my life is probably more than half over. I’d better make the most of the time I have left.” We assume they’re whistling while they think this, their hats cocked at a jaunty angle. The other type, when entering their forties, think, “Wow. Statistically, my life is probably more than half over. That means I’ve got a good thirty more years of this shit to deal with. What. The. Absolute. Fuck.”
Whether you fall within the first or second type, the realization of one’s mortality can have a profound effect on a person. Some folks buckle down, realize they’d better get serious about pursuing their dreams, and immediately destroy their lives. And probably the lives of those foolish enough to care about them or loan them money. Other folks take a more measured approach and try to correct the wrongs they’ve done to themselves and others so that they can die with a clean conscience. We call those folks quitters.
Regardless, for many of us, midlife means making changes in an attempt to achieve the myth of “joy” that Disney and the porn industry have made so much money from shoving down our throats. We’ve come to call this attempt at change a “mid-life crisis,” as folks scramble from one thing to another, trying to experience what they’ve been told life was all about but they can’t seem to find. Suckers. This can manifest in a number of ways, but some of the most common are:
A thing that happens as people get older is that they start doing weird things to their hair. This is a relatively cheap and easy way to change your appearance without putting actual work into it, so it’s consistent with today’s hopeless milieu. Some folks dye their hair crazy colors to proclaim their individuality, as they’ve seen everyone else do. The color choices aren’t random, though; there is a correlation between the unnaturalness of these folks’ hair color and the amount of money they have in their retirement funds; the less often the color is found in nature, the less money they have saved. Similarly, the amount of hair a person cuts off or grows out has an inverse correlation to a person’s changing political leanings. For example, a left leaning person who cuts off all their hair will now be a right leaning person, and vice versa. Note: the person’s political affiliation and hair length aren’t necessarily indicative of each other to begin with — i.e. a liberal could have short or long hair, etc. — but when one changes, the other changes. Why? Probably hormones.
Another common manifestation of the midlife crisis is buying a ridiculous vehicle. More often, this is done by males. The “sportiness” of the vehicle tends to directly relate to the amount of hair loss the person is experiencing. For example, a convertible sports car denotes intense baldness, whereas a camper, on the other hand, denotes a healthy head (and buttocks) of hair. Motorcycles are purchased in the hope of having intimate relations with a stretch of asphalt. Also, we’re pretty sure the whole leather pants thing stems from a desire to be a cow, which, who wouldn’t want to be a cow? They eat grass all day out in some peaceful field and then get horribly slaughtered and made into delicious hamburgers. It’s a lot like grad school, to be honest. More recently, bicycles have become the new status symbol. They allow their owners to feel superior to their peers by inducing a fantasy state in which it’s imagined that limiting the pollution produced by one car would actually have an effect on global warming. (They mean well. Let us not forget the true enemy.) An unfortunate side effect of bike riding is the intense discomfort caused by bicycle pants, which often lead bicyclists to flaunt traffic laws in their mindless agony.
Vehicles are tools for moving, which is one thing these folks subconsciously feel they’re not doing, in life, when they have a midlife crisis. They’re stuck in the mud, spinning their wheels and other metaphors for wage slavery.
Redoing the House
Similar to vehicles, houses are one of the primary ways people are saddled with crippling debt that leads to the nervous breakdowns popularly called “midlife crises.” In the same way one might want a car with a spoiler and a racing stripe on the side, which one will drive on the highway ten miles below the speed limit in the left lane, some people want to put a ‘racing stripe’ on their house, so to speak. Not literally — that would be awesome, though. But where would you put the spoiler? The roof? The porch? In any case, NASCARizing the house mostly manifests in ‘redoing the kitchen.’ The idea is that it would increase the resale value of the house for your pipe dream of retiring to the Caribbean, but let’s be honest, nobody can afford to buy a house anymore. You’re stuck. Time to redo the bathrooms! Pastel bathroom tissue here we come!
On rare occasions, the desire to get a new vehicle and to redo the house merge, and you end up with a Winnebago. The idea, here, is that you’ll cruise the country, possibly solving crimes with your talking dog or your little yappy dog with bowel problems. Whatevs. You’ll take your home with you and set off on a new life full of adventure and intrigue. The point is, you won’t actually be able to leave your driveway because those things burn, like, so much gas. Assuming that you still have a driveway. Otherwise, you’re screwed.
There’s an old saying, “you are what you do.” Like most old sayings, this is intended to massively crush your spirit and then flame-throw it into ashes. Unfortunately, people often misinterpret this to mean they can solve their midlife crisis by changing careers (pause for hysterical clown laughter). Here’s an example. Say you’re a manufacturer and distributor of methamphetamine to orphans and pregnant women. Things are going along fine when, suddenly, a midlife crisis hits you. You wake up one morning and realize your life is unfulfilled, and has been for a long time. You’ve been running on autopilot with no real goal in sight, no longer playing to win, but playing simply in the vain hope of not losing. And then you run out of dumb cliches. This is not the life you once dreamed of having, a life filled with the simple joys of working in a cubicle under florescent lighting, mindlessly shuffling papers, and cringing every time your supervisor twitches. So, you head on down to a government office, or, if you’re super-ambitious, the DMV. With a little bribery and a lot of lying, you can achieve your dream of being a miserable schmuck, complete with a tie and loafers. You’ll say things like, “I’ve got a case of the Mondays!” and “Thank God it’s Friday!” without a single trace of irony. (Even if you were trying to be ironic, sayings like this are so profoundly depressing that they suck all the irony out.) America really is grand. But you’ll still be miserable. Sorry.
The thing about life is, it usually takes a long time. Filling that time can get to be a drag. Statistically, there’s no way all of that time can be meaningful or even fun, so it’s easy to think that you’re wasting your time. That’s where drugs come in. They make you forget the passage of time and also make it much more enjoyable. No more will you be sitting in your dirty apartment waiting until it’s bedtime so you can sleep fitfully and get up to go to your shitty job again. Now, you’ll spend the evening hiding from the toilet demon that wants to eat your private parts.
Another great thing about addictions is that they add meaning to your life. It’s easy to settle into complacency when the only things you seem to be living for are your bills or your boring family. YAWN. When you develop a healthy addiction, though, your time will henceforth be spent desperately pursuing whatever it is you’re addicted to. Smack, crack, Chocodiles. You’ll do anything to get it and suffer any privations as long as you have it. Addiction will give your life meaning as you live for something more than yourself. It’s truly a beautiful thing.
One of the biggest myths in life is the idea of “wasting your life,” which we mentioned above but now we’re flipping the scrip because screw you that’s why. (Not really. Thank you for reading this crap.)
The reality is that all lives are wasted; it’s impossible not to waste one. Ask yourself this question: was there ever a moment when you weren’t completely joyful while also insanely productive? If so, congratulations, you’ve wasted your life.
But some people don’t get it, and of course, the problem couldn’t be their own fault. So, they look outward for someone to blame/fix it. If you’ve spent a significant amount of time with someone, it’s easy to blame them for your unhappiness. And, if you continue with this gullible line of thinking, it’s easy to think the solution is just to find someone else who DOES make you happy. This leads to affairs. The truth is, no one can make you happy, not even yourself. Happiness doesn’t exist. It’s a myth like unicorns and the idea that your mother actually loved you. But affairs do fill the time, and they are exciting. At first. Eventually, of course, just like everything else in your life, they’ll backfire and leave you miserable, alone, and possibly diseased. Probably diseased. But at least you’ll have been able to ruin multiple people’s lives, not just your own this time.
A related phenomenon is the old trope of the aging man replacing his wife with someone younger than several articles of clothing he owns. There must be some advantage to starting a long term (fingers crossed) relationship from scratch, or tying your three year old son to your walker when you two go for a stroll, or living with someone who has lived her/his whole life in basically a different universe than yours. But frankly we’re stumped. Some people say that being married to a much younger person keeps you young too, but isn’t that what monkey gland implants are for?
Finding/Losing Faith in a Higher Power
The great thing about God — whatever name you give it — is you can blame her for all your failures. In this way she’s a lot like your mom. Similarly, if you publicly thank God for your successes, it makes people think you’re humble. That pisses them off in a really great way. On the flippity-flop, if you’ve been trusting to God to do stuff for you, maybe now’s the time you realize how foolish that is. We’re going to let you in on a little secret. There is no God controlling your life. It’s actually this guy name Teddy. Teddy lives in Jersey City. He manages a 711 and lives with his mom. They hate each other, but that hatred sustains them both. For whatever reason that we don’t fully understand, Teddy has total control over the lives of everyone in the world. And, Teddy doesn’t realize it. Because of this, his power manifests in strange ways. Our fates are tied in to how he stocks his store. If he drops a gallon of milk, millions die. If he neglects to put out new hotdogs, famine. If he finds a skittle on the floor behind his seat, the stock market booms. It’s mostly tied into his subconscious and has a lot to do with what he watches on TV. If Teddy had any idea he had this power, he could destroy us all. Even without him realizing it, we’re pretty much screwed. An interesting thing to note is that Teddy is a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories (because he has a leather fetish and secretly wants to be a cow but can’t afford a motorcycle), which explains most things happening these days. Also, he gets Tuesdays off, so we’re mostly safe on Tuesdays. Unless he has to cover a shift.
If you manage to avoid a midlife crisis, that probably means you’re boring. But hey, boring people live a long time. A long, boring time. And if you do have a midlife crisis, the good thing about that is you’re probably used to cleaning up the messes you’ve made of your life at this point, so it’s back to the status quo for you, which can be somewhat comforting. So don’t freak out. The most important thing to remember is that, no matter what kind of life you’ve lived, whether it’s been full of tragedy or triumph or a healthy mix of the two, no matter how many people feel that you’ve touched their lives in a positive or negative way, your life will end someday, and on that day you’ll probably poop yourself. And then be found by strangers like that, poopy and dead. Cheers.