Is This What a Midlife Crisis Looks Like?

hummerhummerThe way I understand it, one day you're just sitting there minding your own business, and the next, you're driving around in an immaculately waxed Hummer while perfectly lip-synching Wiz Khalifa.

I'm referring, of course, to the dreaded midlife crisis.

You know who that guy is, right? The loser at the end of the bar who's firmly planted well within the boundaries of an age-inappropriate situation? I saw that guy plenty back in my day. He wasn't necessarily middle-aged, but he was well into his thirties, and boy did he ever look laughably out of place; a sad (and presumably under-sexed) parody of himself.

Which is why, back in the day, I vowed to never be that guy, and, to my credit, I never was, exiting the bar scene just before the that-guy moniker could ever be pinned on me.

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So how is it that I'm wondering if I'm having a midlife crisis? I mean, everyone knows that that guy is nothing more than a stepping-stone to the 40-something dude who races about in the aforementioned Hummer (top down, naturally) while crushing handfuls of Propecia.

Here's the good news: I don't drive a Hummer. (No offense to all you Hummer people out there - I bet y'all look great in 'em.) And I don't consume anything intended to curtail my (unfortunate) hair loss. And while I'd be the first to admit that I do kinda like the ol' Wiz, it's also important for you to understand that I regularly listen to the Waylon Jennings station on Pandora. Why? Because (a) Waylon's an American legend and (b) that's just what middle-aged dudes from Tennessee do. We listen to the Waylon Jennings Pandora station.

So on the one hand, I really don't think I'm having a midlife crisis. But on the other? I sorta think I might be. Let's examine the evidence:

First: My age bothers me. There. I said it. Are you happy? But that hasn't always been the case. In fact, my last birthday - the one when I turned 43 - was the first time my age has ever, EVER given me even the slightest pause. Thirty? Please. Forty? Nothing. Even 41 and 42 didn't make a dent. But 43 sure did. So, yeah, my age has kinda been bugging me. Which is one reason why I think I might be having a midlife crisis, but there are other reasons, too.

The amount of exercise I'm getting is one. It's way more than I had been getting. And while I've always been one to stay in decent shape during my adult life, I've also primarily relied upon cardio and maybe a bit of yoga to get the job done. These days? I'm going all cross-fit, which essentially means more resistance training than ever before. Did I mention I hired a personal trainer?

But wait, there's more. After the better part of a decade of caring very little about my appearance, I suddenly find myself caring a lot more.

And don't even get me started on a recent spat of relationships I'm having with people much younger than I am.

NO. Not women. Men. Outta nowhere, I'm having all these May-December bromances with dudes in their 20s. One of the primary reasons I enjoy spending so much time with these cats is that they remind me what it's like to be that young and, well, dumb again.

So while I'm not riding around in a convertible Hummer rapping about weed, I have found myself doing the occasional double-take in the mirror after ever-more-frequent workouts - workouts, it's worth noting, that are orchestrated by a young man I've come to have legitimate bromantic feelings for.

So, is this a midlife crisis? Are my actions those of a man who's trying to harken back to a day that no longer exists for him? Or are they normal activity that can be rationalized?

Because I can rationalize them. Those young guns that I've been hanging out with? They've all come part and parcel with one particular freelance job I'm working on at the moment. So it's not like I've gone out and sought such company. Instead, I'm just bumping into such company.

And what's with all the exercise? The main reason I've stepped it up is because I'm tired, y'all. And by the way, my wife and I have five kids, including a (nearly) two-year-old boy. And chasing around a two-year-old is a young man's game. And that's what exercising makes me feel like. Young.

And, sure, I switched gears a bit by going with more resistance training, partly because I want my kids to see their daddy as an active, fit and virile guy.

But what about all those double-takes in the mirror? I can't explain that vanity away with my children, right? No, but I can explain it away with my wife. Simply put, she's more beautiful (and fit) than ever. And at the beginning of the year, I remember thinking that I wanted to look as good to her as she does to me. Granted, this is an impossibility given the hands we were both dealt, but you can't blame a guy for trying, can you?

And finally, how do I rationalize my age bothering me?

I have no explanation for that. So maybe I really am having a midlife crisis - one in which I'm meeting new and exciting people thanks to freelance work I've busted my ass to get, and one in which my children inspire me to stay fit so that I can be as youthful as possible. Perhaps it might even be one in which my spouse is still someone that I want to look as good as possible for.

And if that's a midlife crisis, my friends, I sure wish it'd happened in my twenties, instead of dealing with random that-guy encounters.

-By John Cave Osborne

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