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Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Elusive Mid-Life Crisis

My husband and I were at the kitchen counter this morning and he was giving me the wrap-up of his pre-dawn gym visit and I asked him if The Grunter was there.

“How old is The Grunter, anyway?” I asked. I’ve only heard tales of this guy, but he is legendary and is mentioned in all stories about the pitfalls of going to the gym after 5:30 a.m.

I knew the answer before he even said it. 

“Mid-40s,” we both said simultaneously. Figures. The Grunter is entrenched in a mid-life crisis that is taking the form of proving that he’s a stud. He wants everyone to know how studly he is, even the blind. So he grunts when he lifts weights.

According to my husband and the Legend of the Abacoa Gym Grunter, the guy grunts so loudly that the other gym rats can hear him over their iPod earphones.

I guess we should be grateful he didn’t pick speeding and swerving, the most popular mid-life crisis option for men in South Florida. Showing everyone how fast you do everything is another way to prove your masculinity. Because, you know, chicks dig a guy who’s in a hurry.

I got to thinking about mid-life crises and the fact that I’m still waiting for mine. The fact that I’m already 52 can only mean that it’s going to be a whopper when it finally arrives.

I’ve been waiting for it since I was in my mid-30s. That was back when I thought 30 was mid-life. I tried to assign the Mid-Life Crisis label to every stupid little thing I did, thinking that if my mid-life crisis was over, I could safely get on with aging gracefully, living a life of dignity and grace, and staying out of the tabloid headlines that start out “HOUSEWIFE SHOCKER” or “SUBURBAN MOM OF 3 ____________S!”

I got two speeding tickets in a 6-month period and called that a mid-life crisis. When that didn’t take, I claimed crisis when I went on a vacation without my husband or kids. No one missed me and we didn’t even come close to divorce proceedings, so no deal. (It probably didn’t help that I was asleep by 9 every night of my wild weekend.) I got braces . . . does that count? I was 49 and just vain enough that I wanted straight bottom teeth and was willing to endure the smirks, questions and muffled laughter at my pronunciation of “self serve gas station.” However, I wasn’t vain enough to get a nose or boob job, so I don’t think braces make the cut.

That’s not to say I didn’t have ample opportunity to strut my aging stuff. I’ve been inside tattoo parlors and opted for a henna tramp stamp that wore off in two days. I had to replace my 8-seater family truckster and instead of getting a convertible sports car, I got a Prius (which, thanks to The Other Guys is now the butt of every high school kid’s jokes. Thank you, Marky Mark). Other than the time I stabbed myself in the palm with an X-acto knife while working on a Pinewood Derby car, I have had no piercings besides one in each earlobe.

My husband used his up already, when he got a Jeep and drove it once with the top off. He expressed some skepticism that that counted, since it’s not like it was a Porsche or anything and he was only 28. But, yes, I told him, that definitely counted, so he’s done with any youthful shenanigans.

At 52, is there even a mid-life crisis in my future? If it doesn’t get here soon I’ll barely be able to enjoy it. I’m sure I couldn’t keep a motorcycle upright without the kickstand down, sports cars aren’t even allowed in the assisted living parking lots, and an affair with a younger man is out: Cutting up his steak at dinner “because we don’t want anyone to choke” is not acceptable as foreplay these days.

I guess I could go to the gym and grunt. I understand it works for some people.