Hypnotic Peacock

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 2, 2012 5:33PM

How to Be Middle Aged

Rate: 15 Flag




Congratulations, you’re past 40! You’ve lived through the nation’s Bicentennial, Miami Vice, Madonna’s cone-bra phase, Reaganomics, picture discs, floppy discs, laser discs, compact discs, and the war on terror. You remember Star Wars before it became Episode 4, phones that were attached to the wall, and vinyl car upholstery that burned the skin off the back of your thighs in the summer. You drank Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers in the parking lot before the REO Speedwagon show and you smoked in high school—I mean in high school, because schools used to have student smoking lounges.




Now you find yourself skiing down the the bell curve of life. Maybe you’ve had a few close calls with your health. You’ve lost people close to you. You know damn well the secret to life is eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep, and you’ll take that into consideration some day. But right now you’re more concerned with catching the neighbor’s dog taking a dump on your lawn and getting another estimate for storm windows. For the most part, you’ve spent the past couple of decades doing what’s expected of you. Sure, you had some fun along the way; Lollapalooza was great, but you never made it to Burning Man like you swore you would.  

Lately you feel a bit rudderless. Something is missing in your life—other than the money in your 401k. You’re not having a mid-life crisis, exactly, because you’re on antidepressants. Yet that vague gnawing in your soul as you microwave a Hot Pocket and settle in for Boardwalk Empire is unmistakable. You’re too old for Rollerblades, but too young for a hearing aid. You could use a little guidance in aging gracefully. Middle age comes with benefits, like wisdom and the dissipation of peer pressure, but there are still rules.


Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you what they are. I’ll keep it simple, stupid, because I know you’re busy. You’ve got, like, five minutes to read this, check Reddit and Buzzfeed, and file your TPS report. Everything boils down to a few simple categories: what to eat, what to wear, who to hang out with, and what to do. You’re welcome.

 Here goes:   



What not to eat: Cinnamon Toast Crunch; Toaster Strudel, anything blue; Ramen noodles, YooHoo;  squeezable yogurt; juice pouches; pizza with cheese-stuffed crust. And go easy on the adobo sauce, cowboy.


What to eat: Fish; flax seed oil; quinoa; leafy greens; and grapefruit. These are super foods, people! Anything else, and you’re dancing with the devil.


What not to wear: Jeggings, belly button piercings; low-rise jeans, wifebeaters, Lucite heels, pantyhose, video game-themed t-shirts; tube tops; hot pants; do rags; Adidas sandals; Crocs; apparel that serves as advertising. And for god’s sake, cover up your shoulders.


What to wear: Killer boots, oversized sunglasses, chunky jewelry, jeans that don’t drag on the ground; a bra that fits; a belt; a stylish hat that is taken off indoors; an understated watch; garments that are tailored personally for you. Men—don’t be afraid of a splash of color!  


Who to hang out with: Your spouse; your sponsor; coworkers of the same age and status; your grandma; retired police officers; the elders at your church; local politicians (provided you’re at a community fundraising event); headhunters; that nice couple down the street whose daughter who just got accepted into West Point. 


Who not to hang out with: The babysitter, your son’s teacher, any yoga instructor, coworkers who still live with roommates; your ex-girlfriend; anyone who doesn’t know your first and last names; the bachelor across the street who doesn’t have a job.


What to do: Get custom inserts for your running shoes; clean the gutters twice a year; edge the lawn; get your oil changed; bungee jump; read the latest biography on Abraham Lincoln; learn to cook a decent risotto; throw the ball with your kids; steam clean the carpet; compost; call your mom; take up painting; take up ice sculpting; wear a helmet; go camping in the winter; volunteer; let bygones be bygones; take pictures AND print them out; make s’mores; get a real Christmas tree; write your autobiography; sing with the windows down; get a tattoo—or better yet—become a tattoo artist.  


What not to do: Post Instagrams to Facebook; send tweets of self-promotion; party like it’s 1999; buy a rear-wheel drive car; get out of the stock market; exhibit the worst traits of your parents; host parties that make your girlfriends buy expensive stuff they don’t need; be star-struck by designer goods; stifle your child’s creative energy; go off-roading on an ostensibly frozen lake; drive drunk; tease your sister about her weight; stop dreaming; think you don’t need any more friends. And take it easy on the Internet porn, fella.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, my wine glass needs refilling. I know I’ve missed a few items, so please leave them in the comments field. Let’s think of this as a living document. We’ll crowdsource this mutha until we’re plum out of pop culture references. 

Broken wine bottle 

Author tags:

ennui, american life, culture, humor

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"You're not having a mid-life crisis, exactly, because you're on antidepressants." Loved this.

But you're wrong about the low-risers. They're just the thing for the thickening waist.
Alas, low-rise jeans + thickening waist = muffin top. Acceptable only when worn with a long, roomy tunic. But then you risk looking like Mrs. Roper.
So funny and a propos. I used to tell my younger friends about the downhill plight of becoming 30, then 40, then 50. Now, after 60, I'm still a runner, can wear leggings and enjoy "Big Bang Theory." So, what's next?
Really does sum up being middle aged perfectly.

Bring back Miami Vice and tight fitting pants.
Low-rise + cheap wife-beater from Target covers muffin top. Tunic optional, but you DO risk looking like Mrs. Roper.

Once again, funny, funny post!

Hey, but I am training like crazy to wear the wife-beater in the summer of 2013 and I still have the ass for low-rise. Oh and I sometimes hang out with my yoga teacher, but she's a grandma. Does this count?
V: You get a reprieve from the "no hanging out with the yoga instructor" rule. In fact, I think we should add "become a yoga instructor" under "things to do." The middle-aged aching back needs a good downward dog every day!

And thanx for clarifying "middle age" for me. I had been wondering if I still had permission to crank up the Beatles' "Revolution"...
I was going to ask if it's okay if I *become* a yoga instructor and am relieved to have your approval. But you will NOT take away my blue food, Missus. I'm going to demand the biggest-ass-ever bowl of Blue Moon ice cream with rainbow sprinkles on my death bed. xoxo
I don't get why they even make Zoloft under 100mg? You need, at least, a 100. I did always want to make it to Burning Man.
This was hilarous! RR

Respectfully, I suggest these additions:

Change hair style for God's sake.


Stool softener


Visit the dermatologist to snip, freeze or otherwise try to repair the damage you did while "getting your burn" on the beach so many times.
This was hilarious and to some extent I agree with your "how to" lists. Mine would be much shorter. I'm a young 51!-B. :)

Numero Uno? Be Yourself.
I wear low-rise Levi's, size 8. No muffin top. But I do have some junk in my trunk. ;)
Very cool and funny. The use of the photos reminded me of 'Breakfast of Champions' which Vonnegut wrote upon turning 50. Generation Y'ers will do this same post someday using YouTube videos instead of photos. The who to hang out with was great.
First of all - you look about 17 in that photo - but I have no problem taking advice from young people. This was such a clever, smart and funny post - I just loved it. How do you do this? Unfortunately, I cross the lines here and there : ). Don't wear Adidas sandals or Crocs (Bill Maher says those are for mental patients) - but I've never worn a bra, so get ready people, it's all hanging out. Anyway, hats off to you - some fine and funny writing here.
Love this, and it mostly applies to older age as well!
And another thing . . . when much younger men notice you and flirt, remember that it is a good thing, not a bad thing. The day construction workers and gardeners don't give you a second look means that you're really old and it may just be time to do something, and fast.
Have you ever noticed who construction workers look and whistle at?
Bwahaha! Thank you!
I used to get indignant when construction workers whistled at me. It offended my feminist sensibilities and made me feel like a piece of meat. Now I miss it. I shall try a new shade of lipstick and see if that brings back the catcalls.
I used to get indignant when construction workers whistled at me. It offended my feminist sensibilities and made me feel like a piece of meat. Now I miss it. I shall try a new shade of lipstick and see if that brings back the catcalls.
No, no, super NO on the tattoos. Otherwise, I agree with every word. And lots of thumbs up.
A few I don't get and I'd be interested in an explanation/clarification:
"coworkers who still live with roommates."
"the bachelor across the street who doesn’t have a job."

What is your reasoning there exactly?

Oh, and guys who look at older women are mostly gay or really messed up. Sorry.
fantastic writing! super LOL!
I just loved this! One of the joys of middle age is not having to worry about peer pressure. I've seen REO Speedwagon 11 times in the last few years, and enjoyed that SO much. We've been raising our own chickens, which taste so much better than industrial chicken. We also bake all of our own bread, using local organic whole wheat flour. This is a great time of life in which to explore things you've never done before. I ran a half marathon and am learning to play guitar.
Hmmm, as a yoga instructor with great shoulders, I have to disagree.
The crocs, the baby sitter, etc. are all sound advice...~r
I heartily disagree with your driving tips, as I feel that driving rear wheel drive trucks across a frozen while drunk is fun for people of all ages, the rest is, I must admit, sound advice. (Though, Tupperware rules, even if it is a little more expensive than Rubbermaid)

I miss my Stranger in a Strange Land picture disc now. Thanks a lot, lady
I have some add-ons...

1. Buy that sports car. You know you want to. Then drive it...really DRIVE it.

2. Color your hair. Don't use your natural color.

3. Drink the wine. Every night.

4. Cultivate a taste for very good Scotch. Indulge it.

5. Get a tattoo wherever you bloody please. Mine is on my back. I bought it for myself for my 45th birthday. It looks fabulous.

6. Get rid of the time-suckers, the negative people, and the whiners in your life. Who has time for that nonsense?

7. Eat well. In moderation. If you want the foie gras, have the damned foie gras. If you want the gelato, have the damned gelato. Insert your favorite here.

8. NEVER let anyone tell you what to think/do/buy/say. You're big now. You don't need permission. In fact, I've always lived by the dictum that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission. See #1.

9. If you have the backside for the jeans, wear the jeans. If you have the bosoms for the tight t-shirt, go for the tight t-shirt. If you still have your waist, wear the big black belt.

Most of us have better bodies than most teenagers do right now.

10. Lists are for chumps. You're too busy for silly lists.
Awesome suggestions, Aunt Messy. I would have a big tattoo by now, but I'm squeamish about pain. Maybe a new-found love of Scotch can cure that.