Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Midlife Crisis

I have begun to make the transition that all men eventually do, that of becoming their fathers. I really became aware of this truth just recently. My father had no idea how to operate the cable TV remote, and for a period of two months once relegated himself to static as he couldn't figure out how to change the actual TV to channel 3 to make the cable available. Keep in mind he was in charge of a far flung sales staff that generated millions in revenues for Hammermill Papers, but yet he couldn't watch an NCAA football game due to the chinese algebra of figuring out that the "power" button meant "on".

I thought this was really funny until a couple weeks ago when faced with the new Droid phone. I quickly realized I couldn't even effectively answer a phone call, much less do the cool things all the 15 year olds in the store seemed to be doing with genuine glee. Sheepishly, I returned the phone days later, coming up with some half muttered excuse that I had trouble using the touch screen while driving in the sun. The sales guy knew I was, in fact, incompetent when it came to the new technology. He may as well have handed me the directions to create a Wankel Rotary Engine from toothpicks. It was over my head. I am fairly confident they laughed at me after I left the store.

Beyond my inability to embrace new technology, is a genuine lack of caring. If anyone at work truly knew what computer programs I couldn't run, I would be placed in some sort of remedial class at a local community college with burnouts, cosmetology school dropouts, and mentally challenged adults. I would bring cigarettes to discreetly share during class breaks to get in with the fellow students, much like one would in prison. I may not know technology, but I am not stupid. Perhaps I would go to a Coheed and Cambria show with the tough kids in the back. Who knows? Maybe it would turn out OK.

The most chilling aspect of becoming my father was the brutal realization that I don't really have any close friends. Sure, I have a couple guys that would bail me out of jail at 3 a.m. They wouldn't be happy about it, but they'd do it. Most people don't even have that, so I count myself as lucky. The fact is that I, like most men my age, don't really have anyone they are really that close to, maybe save their love interest. It's a timing issue. I am at that strange social transition men go through when most of their peer group has coupled off into Soccer Camp Nuclear Families. If I want to talk about the best 2nd grade teacher, or best local babysitter, I have a staggering number of ways to go. If I want to throw out a seemingly alarming idea of heading to Mexico with a cocktail waitress, I don't really have a good sounding board out there. Sure, I could talk to the guys in the band, but they'd just tell me to do it and send for them when I had found a good apartment near the beach. Fun guys, but not really solid long term advice...

The Nuclear Family slowly replaces the loose tribes of young adulthood and college. The guys I used to turn to to discuss whatever big issues I was dealing with have all quietly faded away into khaki pants and monthly SUV payments. I think the last time I could really throw out a crazy idea I was considering and have anyone seriously weigh in on it without facing Harsh Societal Judgement was when I was in my midtwenties and talking shit on my porch after college. In that tribe, everyone banded together for the common good of pizza, 12 packs of beer, and being your buddies' wingman (even if his new gal was a little annoying or unattractive). It was a good life, but to be honest, I don't ever need to share a bathroom with some dude again or go to a 25 cent wing night. I saw it coming, and I am fine with it.

I think it was like that for my father too, as when he was my current age now, I seem to recall him voluntarily mowing the lawn or offering to drive my friends and I to the go-kart track at the drop of a hat. There were never any neighbor guys swinging over for a cold can of brew, and shooting the bull about The Game. There was certainly never any hushed talk after the sun went down, when the beer consumption made dangerous hopes and dreams slip out in conversation. Nope. My father's life was primarily work every Monday through Friday, chores on Saturday, and church on Sunday morning. Repeat. But I don't remember him having any really close friends around. There were a couple guys from work I heard vague reports of, and maybe even saw them face to face at a company picnic where I was forced to enter a potato sack race for a shitty prize. (I lost, finishing a distant 5th and had to look on as the Lite Brite went to another lucky lad. The potato sack race, yet another thing that appears more fun than it actually is. Childhood illusion lost...)

The key is now that I have realized this transition into my father, I am able to (in theory) take a fork in the road and miss some of the more dismal and draining aspects of that life. No go-kart track duty for me. I have a better plan. My father never fully embraced the true midlife crisis, and that's where he may have made a wrong turn. I have test driven used Porsches, but now I need to buy, buy, buy. I need to get a small depressing condo by a small man made lake. It will be there where I will trailer my power boat in the winter, a parking nuisance for all the other residents. I will dock it in the summer time in a place where I will wander shirtless and tan, my Italian horn necklace shimmering in my oily sweaty chest hair. Girls from the local haircutting salon will whittle away at my meager savings by insisting on bottle service while I take their bikini clad plastic soulless bodies to the overpriced waterfront nightclubs. They will argue, unbeknownst to me, over who will have to provide me with emotionless efficient oral sex to continue the Summertime Fun For All in my boat. It will be perfect. But it all starts with a first step. My first step is getting that Droid phone back, and figuring out how it works.


At September 8, 2010 at 11:15:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you would of gotten an iPhone. Just think of all this self reflection and the personal memories you could of bypassed and kept bottled up inside. Droids will do that to you.

I would suggest your first round of defense against becoming your father is to go buy a bar at an ill advised location in Shefffield. Dump more money into it than good sense. Be sure to give all your new false friends free drinks. (You want to be the good guy don't you?) Drink nightly with these new friends until your business or liver fails. Whatever comes first.

The shadow of your father will most definitely fade as you try to sell your bars beer tap system and nine 56 inch LCD screen to pay for your medical bills.

At September 9, 2010 at 7:28:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

This is also very sound advice.

Thank you.

At September 9, 2010 at 8:53:00 AM EDT , Blogger Raquel's World said...

This post was hilarious. Reminded me of when I went to TMobile to upgrade my Nokia phone that I had had for 5 years. The young sales kids laughed at me and even called over other coworkers to show them my prehistoric phone. When I left with my new fancy, internet able and camera phone I could not use it at all. Couldn't answer it, couldn't seem to make the internet work..etc. After many embarrassing phone calls to tech support I got it down for the most part.

The mid-aged thing is hard on women too. All of my friends are either party-mode people or soccer moms. I am neither. I cannot seem to find that group that I totally fit in so I surround myself with people in their 50's and 60's. That way I can be the cool one.

At September 9, 2010 at 10:26:00 AM EDT , Blogger Field Marshal Rommel said...

Holy crap, Dr, you just described what I did here in Rochester, Pennsylvania.

Greg's right, that is very sound advice.

My advice; embrace the bicycle culture. You have everything else down pat.


At September 9, 2010 at 12:50:00 PM EDT , Blogger Field Marshal Rommel said...

And I suspect that if you were to embrace the bicycle culture, you should begin by reading this on a daily basis:


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