I turn 50 in a few months, and I wish you'd just shut up about it. I know I brought it up, but shut up, anyway. Middle age is not looking the way I thought it would, so I'd rather look away. I kind of figured by 50, I'd be dignified and pretty all-knowing, and possibly even wearing a monocle, like the Planter's Peanut guy. I mean, who's more sophisticated than that?
But here it is, age 50, and I know nothing, including why anyone needs a monocle. (Isn't every glasses wearer sort of screwed in both eyes? Who has just one bad eye?) The point is, 50 sort of snuck up on me in the maturity department, making the inevitable midlife crisis way past due. I don't know about you, but I'm not really planning to live to be 100.
I know people think midlife crisis is more typically a male thing, but I did some research—and by "research" I mean I Googled it for a minute and a half—and what I found, now that I have a PhD in this topic, is that women have midlife crises just as often as men do. I mean, of course we do. We're gonna die, too, you know. Not everything is reserved for men. Sure, men are still the only ones who get to age naturally and have better sex pills. But they haven't yet cornered the market on death.
I talked about this midlife crisis thing with some of the women in my life, trying to figure out if I should be having one, or even if I was in the midst of one right now. The only clues that seemed midlife-y and crisis-y were the random thoughts, "Well, my looks are going. I guess I finally have to work on being a good person." And also, "Wow, I'd like to have sex with that person."
Dude, I'm serious. Since I hit, say, age 45, all of a sudden the whole world is looking pretty hot to me. I'm like a seventh-grade boy. Sex is always on my mind, and I'm rarin' to go. (Um … hi, Mom.) Is it hormones? Is it the realization that this is it, my last chance to get jiggy wid it, mostly because I go around saying things like "get jiggy wid it"? I mean, sure, Jane Fonda is still having great sex at age 462, but Jane Fonda is freakishly lovely. She hasn't HAD to develop a good personality, because she's still smokin'. Whatever. The point is, all of a sudden I want to have sex with everyone, and maybe that's my version of a midlife crisis.
Incidentally, how YOU doin'? Care to get jiggy wid it?
So I discussed this crisis, or lack thereof, with my women friends, the ones who are ancient hags like me (and I wonder why they don't call more often). One friend said when she turned 40, she bought a convertible and moved to the suburbs, which everyone warned her against, but it turned out it was a suburb with a huge divorce rate, so she ended up having the time of her life. Another pal became addicted to Etsy.
And one friend, my favorite friend, really, said: "I'm embarrassed to say that it only hit me this year that I'm moving toward 60 and it's probably too late to deliver on my promise as a Young Poet. And then there's the 'Does my thinning hair look like Gollum's?' thing."
In my extensive Google research, it said that when women have midlife crises, they don't usually involve wearing things you're too old for or having a torrid affair, although I'm certainly willing to do both of those. What it said was, women usually worry about relationships, if they were good enough wives or mothers.
And since I'm neither, I don't have to worry about that. Whew!
But please see above where I noted I've slipped from being a solid 7.5 to a lowly 6, what with the advent of the jowls and such. Which leads me to this peculiar thought: I might really want to take this time to work on being a somewhat tolerable person. A person who listens rather than talks. Someone who remembers birthdays, or that you're allergic to oranges. Someone who is all Jane Fonda on the inside.
And maybe I could be a better person to myself, too. Stop obsessing on the jowls and pay more attention to the jovial smile. Because whether I want to admit it or not, whether I'm having a crisis or not, I'm still more than halfway through. I'm on the second act. And I'd like to finish off with friends around me and my monocle on when the lights finally dim, you know?