Planning a better mid-life crisis

Scott Feschuk on how sports cars make women think ‘Viagra,’ and affairs just require too much energy

Planning a better mid-life crisis

Getty Images; Photo Illustration by Stephen Gregory

So I’m having my mid-life crisis now—and so far it consists of struggling to decide what to do for my mid-life crisis. Who knew that choosing the physical manifestation of my crippling self-doubt and fleeting mortality would be so stressful?

In my 20s, I always assumed I’d wake up one morning, slap on a hairpiece and embrace a fun new hobby like curling or alcoholism. But the truth is, people judge you on the originality and quality of your crisis. It’s like a science fair for middle-aged people: you don’t want to be the guy struggling to hook up a potato battery while the genius next to you breeds an advanced race of atomic supermen.

That’s why I decided right from the start to rule out all the clichéd mid-life crises for men. Among them:

Buying a sports car. This is the classic display of male mid-life anxiety. Every sporty two-seater sold to a man over the age of 40 should come with a mandatory bumper sticker that reads: “My other car is more practical but does not sufficiently announce my paralyzing fear of death. PLEASE PRETEND I LOOK YOUNG AND COOL.”

Alas, men of a certain age get so caught up in the allure of the shiny $50,000 car that they overlook one important fact: it costs $49,980 more than a box of Just For Men but has the exact same effect—it makes ladies look at you and instantly think, “Viagra.”

Trying to recapture one’s youth through sport. I’m ashamed to say I gave this a try in recent weeks, going out on Monday nights to play pickup hockey. I hadn’t taken to the ice in full equipment in 25 years, but believe me, it didn’t feel that way: it felt as though I’d never done it before. The fellas would surely have nicknamed me the Human Pylon, but pylons don’t vomit on the bench. (For reasons I still don’t understand, my ensuing retirement speech was not carried live on Sportsnet.)

Having an extramarital affair. Engaging in a tawdry fling would violate the sanctity of the marital bond and inflict grave emotional distress. Also, it seems like a lot of work—the sneaking around, the clandestine texting, and all those candles that need to be lit around the bathtub (I’ve never had an affair so I assume all are conducted like the ones on TV). And the cost of hotel room service every time—that’s some pricey sex-having! Nor should we overlook all the flirting that’s required to get things started—I mean, who’s got the energy? Listen, lady, you’re very attractive but tonight’s episode of The Mentalist isn’t going to watch itself.

There are practical concerns, too. When I hit 40, I pretty much had to stop lying in all aspects of my life because my memory is no longer reliable enough to keep track of any untruths. How can I remember to hide the Visa bill when I forgot we had a Visa?

Another critical guideline of the mid-life crisis is that under no circumstances is one permitted to copy the crisis of a friend. It draws too much attention. One middle-aged man deciding to buy a motorbike can be plausibly explained as an innocuous new pastime. Two middle-aged men suddenly buying motorcycles supplies the planet’s recommended daily allowance of sadness.

So what’s left?

Pursue a selfless dedication to others. Confronted with their mortality, some resolve in middle age to seek a more fulfilling existence through tireless dedication to noble causes. This is a deeply honourable path for a human being to follow. On the other hand: boring.

Start seeing a psychiatrist. The most important thing about seeing a psychiatrist is that you can tell people you’re seeing a psychiatrist. In the eyes of others, this imbues you with Hidden Depth. I always thought Scott was fairly normal and boring but turns out he’s walking the knife’s edge of madness! I’m keeping this one in my back pocket.

Blame others for my failings. A real load off.

Unless I can decide on a cool crisis in the next few months, I’m just going to bottle up my emotional anxiety. If I’m lucky, it’ll fester until one day in my 50s when I abruptly have an affair in a sports car while dyeing my hair. The whole crisis will be over in about eight minutes.

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Planning a better mid-life crisis

  1. Bottle up the emotional anxiety until you’re ready for a spectacular breakdown, then buy a big gun, and arrange to speak at a public event with Vic Toews in attendance — a Tory rally perhaps. 

    Alternatively, restart the occupy movement in Baffin Island and spend an Arctic winter in a tent.  Just to make a point. Really really well.

  2. Could you hold off on your mid-life crisis long enough to recommend some new tunes for 2011? 

  3. I`m trying to think if I, or Tony, or hollinm had proposed that the writer should  ” buy a big gun, and arrange to speak at a public event with —————( insert name here of NDP or Lib MP ) in attendance ” then would that comment be allowed to sit alone without anyone saying that it is at the very least inappropriate ?

    Maybe you thought it was so funny that going over the line was permitted, or maybe, like a few others here, this person`s comments are so off the wall that nobody notices, or maybe it is to be expected that those on the left will occasionally make inflammatory and violent remarks.

    • Good question Calvin. That’s one I would ask as well but we already know the answer. Left wingers are fortified with the cool aid of righteous indignation that causes them to froth at the slightest perceived offence while practising the kind of intellectual dishonesty necessary to remain blind to the wrongness of comments like the one above. 

      • Oh, boys.  I didn’t tell him to buy bullets, or take the gun to the rally, or even shoot the darn thing, did I?  No,  just a random list of actions; if you read something violent into it, well you’re both cons so no wonder.  As cons, you see me as a criminal.  What with my lefty Libtard thinkin’ and support of marijuana legalization and all.  Don’t even get me started on abortions — I think they’re best when deep-fried!  There’s a line that’s far behind me!  I even think women should be educated and allowed to work outside the home!  AND I vote! 

        BTW, this is a humour column, isn’t it?  So usually, at least until guys like you get here, the responses to Scott’s writing attempt to be humourous in kind.  You may not think any of this is funny, since cons are very sensitive types, so why do you read and post in the first place? 

        Luv ‘n kisses (naw, blech),
        Your abortion-lovin’, weed-tokin’, uppity-educated woman,

        • Oh, so that explains it–you were being funny!  Then all is forgiven. And that crack about abortion that you made—that`s a real knee-slapper.

          But I`m still puzzled why only a couple of us have told you and your sick mind has no place here. Why would the author of the above piece not correct you ?  Why would the Macleans monitor not reprimand you ?  Why would some of the self-styled language police on this site not caution you on your behavior ?
          I think the answer may be in your reply above where you refer to me as a con. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think your comments are tolerated here because you are a liberal, so your fellow liberals including many Macleans employees are willing to turn a blind eye to your crude behavior.

        • Well, Patchouli, it wasn’t very funny, and it was obviously pretty easy to interpret as a call to violence, even if you didn’t provide step-by-step instructions complete with links to gun retailers.  I didn’t believe you were serious, but still found it distasteful and an unnecessary intrusion of ugly partisan sentiment in an article that wasn’t about politics.

          Of course, I also wish Calvin had replied to your post, instead of starting a new thread to discuss it, and that he hadn’t jumped straight to conspiracy theory.

  4. I really enjoy your writing Feschuk, even though I have never paid for any of it.  Please wait before cutting off your left ear, or whatever is fashionable these days. Life does get better with time, with the realization one should not take anything too seriously.

    You are on the road to redemption.

  5. “(For reasons I still don’t understand, my ensuing retirement speech was not carried live on Sportsnet)”

    Next time, play poker while retiring.

  6. Wow Scott, how many cliche’s can be stacked into a single article.

    “Midlife Crisis” was a term first used by Elliot Jacques in a research paper in 1965 where he discussed the angst of middle aged men in big business. They were asking the question, “Is this all there is?” and really struggling with whether or not their feelings called for a big change in their lives.

    Midlife Crisis is a normal event we will all go through multiple times in our lives and has NOTHING to do with the Hollywood cliche of the man behaving badly in a red sports car.

    That cliche causes a lot of people to avoid asking that important question and going on to live a more passionate and meaningful live because they don’t want to be labeled or dismissed … like you do in your article.

    A functional Midlife Crisis is a massive shortcut to living your dreams when it is done well and done on purpose. AND You have yet to ask the tough question that starts it all off. What DO you really want to do for the rest of your life Scott. Like most people, you are clear on what you don’t want … unfortunately that doesn’t get you very far.

    My two cents

    Dike Drummond

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