Middle-Aged Spread
people in line
by Stephen Phillips

It’s common these days to anticipate mid-life crisis with a certain amount of dread.   Well, my own mid-life crisis has come and gone, not with a bang, but with something more like with a whimper.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, the thought of my ever reaching mid-life in one piece seemed like a long shot.  But here I am now, past 40, heading for 42, divorced, with a couple of kids, washboard abs looking more like a tumble dryer, and some very distinguished grey hairs peppering my beard.  And as if the fact that I’ve actually managed to make it this far isn’t miracle enough, you know what?  It's actually pretty good.

During my thirties, I worried that once I reached this benchmark in life, I would wake up one morning fat, balding and possessed of a burning desire to rush out and buy a sports car.

I feared I’d spend a large part of each waking day scouring the Internet for hair replacement solutions--then wondering if my friends and family would notice that my head had suddenly sprouted what looked like a small, furry, mammal, whose movements around my balding dome depended on wind direction.  But no, I can still go the barber’s, ask for a haircut, and not be done in 20 seconds.

And although my boyish figure has done a good impression of kudzu, spreading in all directions, I can manage to get into my 32 inch waist Levi 501's--and let me tell you, baby, I'm still a sexy beast!

Actually, looking good and feeling good are just a small part of what it means to be in one's middle life.   As those of you who have reached this same plateau know, we can now look at life with a whole new perspective.  (I think it's called “maturity,” or something like that).  We tend to take things a little slower…to look at the whole picture…to appreciate the beauty of life, without constantly worrying if the pimple on our nose will disappear before that hot date on Saturday night.

Now, don't get me wrong, I’ve had a really interesting life up until now.   If I stop to think about my youth, there are certainly things that I cringe to remember--but they were also fun.  And everything I did, good or bad, has made me the person I am today.   (Take me as I am, because changing is just not in the cards.)

Reaching middle age is, of course, not without its drawbacks.  For example, when a shop assistant recently referred to me as “Sir,” I was horrified:  “Sir” is how I refer to my grandfather.

When I head into town for a night out, I'm not even sure that I could paint it red anymore, as the bristles on my brush are looking a bit forlorn.  I actively search out establishments where the music level is not on a par with the noise made by a space shuttle performing a low-level fly-by.

Thank God I can still stand on the tram for the entire journey without some young thing offering me her seat.  (Now, that would surely be a gauge of how old I look!)

There’s one other thing I must mention here… and I'm sure a lot of you can empathize with this.   When I was a child, I promised myself that the one thing that I would absolutely, not, under any circumstances, do is sound like my parents.   Well, I confess:  in the past couple of years, I’ve had to pull myself up short on occasion, when the words leaving my mouth sounded exactly like something that I vaguely remember hearing about thirty years ago.  Now, that's frightening!

But all in all, middle age is really not such a bad thing.

Sure, it has its drawbacks.  When I have to get out of bed at some ungodly time to go to work and look at myself in the mirror, the face that's staring back at me definitely reflects my age. ("Oh my God, is that a wrinkle?")  I also find myself more concerned with prostrate health than with who Britney Spears is dating. And if I have to hear one more time how youth today has it hard, I'll scream.

"You kids are so spoiled today! I remember when we only had two TV channels, and if the Queen was on, well, that was your evening’s viewing out the window. " (Did I actually say that? Damn right I did.)

Anyway, fellow boomers, be proud of your age.  Don't be afraid to strut your stuff.  Wear your thong to the beach, beer gut and all.  Go ahead, let it all hang out.   Forget about your 401K and your stock options for awhile.  Buy a Harley-Davidson.  Get a tattoo.  Have your tongue pierced.

Do something impulsive.   (After all, you can afford it now.)