Planning a better mid-life crisis - Macleans.ca

Planning a better mid-life crisis

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

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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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