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.
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.