Mortgaging the Farm
By James Clarke
DEAR ANDY: My husband turned 45 last week, and he's driving me crazy.
He says he feels old, but he's acting like a moody pubescent teen.
He seems distracted; he's normally quite shy, but all of a sudden his head is on a swivel where young women are concerned (he actually pulled a muscle in his neck at the mall last week, and, get this, I ended up massaging it out for him!). Even more troubling though is that he's determined to mortgage the farm (we don't actually live on a farm) and buy a sports car with the prerequisite convertible top that's capable of breaking the sound barrier.
It's not that I have anything against sports cars you understand, it's just that my husband is not a particularly good driver, and I'm worried he's going to wrap it around a tree and leave me holding the bag so to speak.
Andy, I just want my husband back, preferably in one piece. What can I do?
Hope you can help,
Joyce in Lakeville
DEAR JOYCE in LAKEVILLE: I remember turning 45. It was a dark and stormy night ...
Seriously though, just to make sure we're all on the same page, let me start out by reminding our female readers of that little-known molecule nestled in the darkest recesses of men's brains -- the one that lies dormant until somewhere around about our mid-40s when it awakens, often overnight, and calls into question everything we are. I know, I know, it sounds like something we made up, but it's true. I swear. Heck, they've even done studies on this phenomenon at the University of Fargo (or was it Frankfurt?).
Anyway, the first thing I always tell the women who write to me is to put yourself in his shoes. It's been said a kabillion times, but it's true.
Imagine if you will waking up one morning feeling not only frustrated and unsatisfied, but on many levels, like a failure. Now we're not talking about an annoying niggle tugging at the back of the brain stem, we're talking about a dam opening and drowning in doubt.
Success, status, all the toys in the world don't amount to a hill o' beans at that point. I've seen friends with the world by the tail struggle mightily with this inherent affliction come to be known as MLC (mid-life crisis).
Call it our curse.
Sure, you girls have PMS (pummel men with snippiness), and, more in keeping of course, menopause.
We men on the other hand have to contend with MLC (maybe short for men lose control?), and, like it's counterpart, the degree it effects men runs the gamut.
Glancing at girls just means your old man's not ready to be one of those old men with the giant green wraparound sunglasses that women walk by ambivalently. The car, yup, guilty as charged. Of course it's a phallic symbol to some degree, I mean really. But the main thing, the real reason visions of a pearl white Porsche Carrera popped to life in the back left corner of my bean the day I turned 45, is about the power. It's about having the power to be able to not only say 'yeah, I want this,' but feeling, no believing, that we deserve that pearl white Porsche Carrera by gum, and then finding a way of getting it done.
Of fixing it.
We all know all the pearl white Porsche Carrera's in the world won't cure the situation, but, so what, it sure makes for a wonderful diversion. To understand the love affair most men have with cars (or motorbikes, or boats, or skidoos ...basically anything shiny with a motor that can go fast) women need to accept that the power of the engine and the nurturing embrace of the cockpit, along with the sheer rapture of speed and the control that goes with it, transcends the car itself.
That said, the feeling we're after is difficult to achieve if we are relegated to say an '82 convertible K-car.
"Hmmm. Don't get me wrong, I like it. It's got character and low k's, but it's, well, it's just not exactly what I had in mind," my neighbor Dan surmised humbly over a Timmy's one day from the cluttered confines of his carport -- his newly acquired Dodge listing heavily to the right, resting peacefully above a fresh puddle of oil.
Dan sold the Dodge a week later, and has moved on nicely, but again, the midway point of a man's life can manifest many different reactions.
Take my bestest, balding buddy Vinny (no names have been changed to protect the innocent and any resemblance to real people by the same name is strictly intended), who, two days after his 46th, traveled to Germany, where, after months of careful research, purchased himself an expensive hair weave, made I think from the hair of virgin mountain yaks. When all was said and done, it cost him in the neighborhood of $10K. I'll never forget how happy he looked when he got off the plane, and, by contrast, how miserable he looked by the time he was hoisting his luggage into the trunk at the far end of the parking lot. Hey, nowhere did it say we couldn't laugh. It was ridiculous. It looked like a skunk sitting on a bowling ball, and eventually, begrudgingly, he came to his senses. We all made up, and in typical fashion he had the weave stuffed and mounted, hung with care in his rec room dead center above his stadium-sized plasma tv.
Guess what I'm saying is that to borrow an old phrase, this too shall pass.
If you truly love your husband, you will give him the benefit of the doubt. Let him have his moments, and, above all, be gentle with him. It's not easy being a man. You know that, but try to keep in mind that we're basically all like little boys in Buck Rogers costumes, flying that rocket ship in our heads and hanging on tight as we try and navigate our own intergalactic mind games.
Hope this helps.
About the Author:
James Clarke is an adventurous 48-year-old award winning freelance photojournalist with a really full head of hair based out of the eclectic sea-side community of Parksville on Vancouver Island, BC Canada. Happily married to the love of his life and the self-appointed chauffeur for a blended family featuring four hormone-ious kids (three girls and a boy aged 9-13), he has over 15 years experience covering everything from bake sales to murder trials to spelunking. Closer to home, 'Clarkesville' also includes Cloe, a two year old Golden Doodle, Zoey, their 9 year old cat, Liz the lounge lizard, and Shakespeare the indestructible goldfish.