I’ve been listening to a lot of The Flaming Lips recently. Scratch that, I’ve been trying to listen to a lot of The Flaming Lips, in an attempt to inject a bit of whimsy and weirdness into my day-to-day life. But the truth is, I don’t particularly like The Flaming Lips. A handful of their songs are okay, but by and large, I just can’t get into them.
Now, I understand that this particular band isn’t even all that weird in the big scheme of things. There’s a lot weirder music out there—bands full of mute, classically trained percussionists who only play covers of Lou Reed songs on the kazoo. But give me a break, I’m almost 40 and I drive a minivan. I often smell of Icy Hot and I follow all of the school’s rules in the drop off car lane. I can only get so weird with my playlist.
Therein lies the problem: I’m almost 40. Fucking 40. I don’t know how it happened. One minute I was sleeping in the back of a van in the parking lot of an Allman Brothers concert fresh off of quitting my job at a sandwich shop because it was “too much responsibility,” and the next thing I know I’m coaching pee wee soccer on weekends and looking at my calendar to find a good time to schedule a colonoscopy.
For the record, there is no good time for a colonoscopy.
I believe this is what they call a “midlife crisis.” That moment where you suddenly become self aware, take a look around and say, “what the fuck happened?”
I think every dude goes through a midlife crisis on some level. Everyone’s journey is a little different, but we all take the trip. You can go full blown crisis and quit your job, leave your wife for the nanny and get hair plugs, or you can half-ass it and start collecting baseball cards, or pick up some other hobby that makes you feel like a kid again. Regardless of the details, the transition is mandatory. It’s kind of like a second puberty. Women probably go through something similar, but they seem to handle it with more grace.
The only thing you can really do when faced with a midlife crisis, is embrace it. Much like puberty, this is an opportunity for growth. I’m not just getting older, I’m blossoming. Look at me blossom.
The trouble is, I don’t particularly want to take the traditional path through this stage in my life. Some dudes in my situation might have an affair. Even if you somehow remove the moral bankruptcy from that equation, I still wouldn’t have the energy to have a girlfriend on the side. Can you imagine the amount of effort it would take to undergo that much subterfuge? God, it makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it. Plus, my back hurts, so I don’t want to spend all that time standing up in a bar trying to meet someone new. It took all the energy I had just to land my wife 20 years ago. I’m still recovering from that original effort.
So an affair is out.
I could try to fight the inevitability of getting old by buying a Porsche, or some other douche-mobile that makes me feel like a kid again when the wind blows through my thinning hair. But there are a couple of problems with this scenario. 1) I can’t afford any car that goes 0 to 60 in anything quicker than two and a half minutes. And 2) Years of driving a minivan have made me soft. I’m accustomed to certain luxuries that your standard two-door convertible doesn’t have. I need a TV in my car. I need to open the doors remotely, with the press of a button. I can’t start using door handles again. Not at my age. Forget about it.
I guess I could scrap my career and go back to school to study dance theory, or maybe sink all my savings into a tech company that develops apps. Do people still download apps? Again, I spent a lot of energy getting my career to the place it is now. People ship booze directly to my door. I don’t know that it’s gonna get any better than that.
Maybe I’ll just get an earring. Or a tattoo. But I hate needles. And what would my tattoo say? What could I have etched on my body that would sum up my unique approach to life? The only thing I can come up with is, “My back hurts.” That’s all I got, and that’s probably not edgy enough.
The easiest thing to do, would be to adjust my wardrobe to try to fool the world into thinking I’m really just a 26 year-old trapped in a 40-year-old body. But I tried on a pair of skinny jeans at Banana Republic once, and they just made my chicken legs look even more like poultry. Maybe I’ll just start wearing hoodies again. Or tying flannel shirts around my waist like we did in the ‘90s.
God, I miss the ‘90s.
I could go see more live shows. That’s always fun. But they’d have to be seated shows because, you know, my back hurts. So that would limit me to singer songwriters and Dad Rock, and again, I’m really trying to mix up my playlist (See The Flaming Lips, above).
I think I’ll just take up a new hobby. Is drinking whiskey a hobby? It’s definitely not a sport, but it takes up a lot of time, costs a lot of money, and my wife gets upset with me when I do it too often. That sounds like a hobby to me. I could definitely see myself spending more time drinking whiskey. Quality time, locked in the basement alone while watching vampire shows on the CW that are geared towards the teen girl demographic. And I’ll wear youthful hoodies and listen to weird music. But not The Flaming Lips. Cause that’s too weird. Probably just some classic Beck.
That sounds like a reasonable approach to the midlife crisis. I get to keep my wife and family, I don’t spend too much money or put out too much effort, but I still get a little taste of the youth I’m desperately trying to hold on to. It feels good to have a plan. Especially when that plan centers around whiskey.
Graham Averill is Paste’s Drink editor. You can follow his drinking antics on twitter or his blog, Daddy Drinks.