Wanted: One Midlife Crisis
By Jo Plumridge
I’ll be turning 40 next May, and my thoughts have naturally begun to turn to the possibility of an impending mid life crisis. Forty seems a good age to pick for this momentous event (even though we’re all living much longer and, with a bit of luck, I might have a good few years past 80). Unfortunately, I’m struggling to come up with a suitable way to express said crisis.
Part of the problem is that there’s little in my life that I’m dissatisfied with, apart from the usual minor irritations of living in the modern world. I’m aware that this probably sounds a touch smug but bear with me…
Really you should be feeling sympathy for me at this point, as it means I have little to rage against to cause any kind of crisis. My husband hasn’t run off and left me for a young blonde, I haven’t got any teenage children (yet) and I did enough partying in my teens and twenties to quite happily never see the inside of a dingy nightclub again. In addition, I don’t particularly fancy reinventing the wardrobe I’ve carefully built up over the years in an attempt to fit in with the latest fashions. Besides which, I have no desire to truss myself up in things that are both uncomfortable and often unflattering.
The traditional response to a mid life crisis, particularly amongst men, is to buy a racy little sports car, supposedly to impress women with. Obviously, the major flaw in this for me is that I’m female – and, in fact, I’ve owned sports cars since I was in my twenties and been lucky enough to drive most makes I’ve wanted to over the years. So it looks like a little red number is off the list. The list of potentials is growing smaller by the moment…
My husband, who beat me to 40 a few months ago, had a sanguine approach to his mid life crisis. He worked out that at his current rate of getting through books, he probably only had around 2000 left to read in his lifetime. The fact that he’d have to choose carefully from now on – so many books, so little time – was as close to a panic as he managed to get.
For myself, I find the idea of turning 40 rather terrifying. I suspect that when it actually happens, I won’t notice it at all but the prospect doesn’t exactly fill me with glee. There’s something about it that feels like a milestone. Perhaps it’s the realisation that I’m firmly a madam rather than a miss, or the fact that the laughter lines on my face don’t exactly disappear even when I’m not smiling. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not a multi-millionaire (yet). The more pragmatic part of me knows that it’s just a number and that it won’t make any difference to my day-to-day life. However, the fractionally more neurotic side wants to inform all my friends of the impending crisis and run round flapping my arms in a flat out panic.
The more I look into mid life crises, the more I realise that the whole thing is geared towards men. It seems rather sexist, although it also suggests that women are expected to have things more ‘together’. I certainly don’t claim to have things completely under control – an abstract and elusive concept at the best of times – but I’d still like to do something to rock the mid life boat.
So, in a move that few who know me will expect, I’ve decided to go out and buy a practical family estate car. Nothing says mid life crisis like buying a sensible car, right? It’ll have plenty of room for my step-daughter and for all the equipment that comes with my other job as a photographer. It’s the perfect crisis tool for one who’s spent their life driving unsuitable sports cars. Problem solved.
I won’t be giving up the sports car just yet though. There’s room in a mid life crisis for a little frivolity.