I was catching up with an old friend, Janie, who lives in Toronto. Somehow we’d managed to survive high school together and stay in touch through the years, the marriages, the careers, and the changing times. For me, our calls were like annual head exams – Janie was a psychiatrist. For Janie, it was probably the vicarious thrill of freedom, a much needed break from a job spent listening.
“You put on any weight?” Janie asked hopefully. “Because I have,” she added quickly. “I got the meno-belly. And it’s a beaut.”
“Don’t even go there, Janie,” I said laughing. “We’re not supposed to be worried about that stuff anymore. It’s what’s inside that counts.”
“What a bunch of prosaic crap,” she said. And then changing the topic, “You seeing anyone?”
“In a manner of speaking,” I answered.
“What’s with the evasiveness?” she said impatiently.
“Just answer the question.”
I sucked in a big breath, worried about Janie’s reaction.
“I did the younger guy thing.”
“Well that was really stupid,” Janie said. “How much younger are we talking?”
“Couple decades, maybe,” I mumbled, clearing my throat.
Janie snickered. “You realize what’s happening here, don’t you?” Her voice was stern, with the kind of tone you might use if you caught your kid peeing in public.
“Geesh, is this how you talk to your patients?” I asked. “Harsh. Very harsh.”
“Of course not,” Janie snapped. “You’re a friend. I get to cut to the chase. And in my professional, highly trained opinion, you are having a mid-life crisis.”
It took me a second to absorb her words. “Janie,” I finally said, “You are nuts, which is why you’re a great shrink, I suppose. The female mid-life crisis is pure myth, an urban legend.”
“Oh, really,” she said haughtily. “Wasn’t it you who called me up a year ago asking what I thought about the Turbo Porsche? You, who went on about the 0 to 60 time and all that nonsense?”
“What does that prove?” I asked defensively.
“It proves you’re no different from my ex-husband, that devil disguised as a boring bastard,” she hissed.
Janie was on a roll. “Psychologically, the mid-life crisis is that moment when you realize someone else has been living your life. She looks like you, talks like you, even farts like you. But she isn’t you and you don’t even like her.” I heard her take a swig of a beverage and gulp hard. “It takes about 45 years to see it,” she said swallowing. “But when you do, look out.”
I was speechless. Something was ringing true and I didn’t like it one bit. I tried to speak but only spittle came out.
“I had a client who hit fifty,” Janie continued. “Left her husband of 23 years and jumped off a bridge.”
I gasped in shock. “Oh no!”
“Yup,” Janie went on. “One morning she got up, poured her self a stiff coffee, and realized if she couldn’t throw her husband off a bridge, she’d have to throw herself off. She took up bungee jumping and has never looked back.”
I suddenly felt my knees buckling under the weight of the truth. “Janie,” I said worriedly. “What should I do?” Maybe I had already lost my mind and didn’t even know it?
“Damned if I know,” said Janie. “But I was wondering if you wanted to go hang-gliding in Belize? Just let go and float above it all.”
I smiled big and wide. “I’m in,” I said laughing. “Then after Belize, let’s go to India. I’ve always wanted to learn how to charm a snake.”
Janie laughed excitedly. “Yes! Yes! And since we’re already in India, we may as well go to Japan for a live taping of Iron Chef!”
“Maybe hit Oktoberfest on the way home, too?” I added excitedly.
“Or how ‘bout riding the Pampas in Argentina with some cute gaucho?” threw in Janie.
“Oh,” I enthused, “The possibilities for a fun midlife crisis are endless!” And as I hung up the phone, I realized this could be the most freeing time of my life. Especially with a crazy friend by your side.
Have you had a mid-life crisis? What was it like for you? What advice would you give to others going through one?
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Everyone knows you only talk about sex in secret. Everyone but me that is. I’m Pamela Tames and you can hear more about my take on sex and the older woman at http://seasonedsex.com/. Who’s doing it, how they’re doing it, and what keeps them doing it. Now, for those all thinking, ‘that’s got to be one short website,’ let me respectfully say, ‘oh, so wrong.’ Just see for yourself.
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