Riding Out the Male Midlife Crisis
|Note: The following article appeared in the London Daily Telegraph, written by Michael Hewitt, who takes a very Growing Bolder type look at a life stage that awaits us all!
I have already experienced some of the surest signs of advancing decrepitude – my back goes out more than I do and birthday cakes have become potential fire hazards. But it seems there’s something far more insidious lying in wait. Any time soon I could look in the mirror and, in place of my fortysomething, travel-worn face, I will see a well-honed Daniel Craig lookalike, irresistible to all women, especially younger women.
The problem is not the mirror – it’s the male menopause. Or Male Climacteric Syndrome. Or, more simply, a midlife crisis. Some medical experts say it’s hormonal, others that it’s purely psychological. Whichever, when it hits, it tends to hit hard.
ROSPA, for example, has reported an alarming increase in the number of BAMBis (Born Again Middle Aged Bikers) wrapping their newly acquired Harleys around the first available lamp post. Off road, many women recognize the symptoms, too, even if their middle-aged husbands don’t. They look on with a mixture of horror and amusement as their beloved starts buying pre-ripped jeans from Gap and tries to hold earnest discussions on the semiotics of rapper Soulja Boy with his next door neighbor’s preternaturally developed 18-year-old daughter.
It’s not that these men are worried they’ve lost their youth – they know exactly where they left it. Nor is it simply that they fancy younger women. I fancy younger women (sometimes), and probably still will if and when I reach 100. No, the main problem is that these men honestly believe that twentysomething women fancy them back. Hence the flashy cars, Botox addiction and trendy clothes that accompany the condition.
So how do these men rationalize this sudden, apparent renaissance in their sex appeal? And how do they justify the selfless desire to share their largesse with a wider, far younger, female user base?
“You have to understand,” explains one 54-year-old, “that men my age now see women no longer simply as playthings but as unique human beings. We have more experience of life than younger men and can therefore hold a conversation on almost anything. Girls love this and it’s one of the really big draws of the mature man. We’ve aged like fine wine.”
The main objection to such Oddbins-inspired analogies is that, while the men undoubtedly believe themselves to be Château Pétrus 47, their twentysomething targets for the most part view them as £2.99 Bulgarian Lambrusco.
A typical comment by a typical 22-year-old, when asked about the possibility of dating a middle-aged man, roughly transcribes as, “Eugh!” “It’s laughable,” says another. “They come into the club, on the pull, with their pot bellies and Grecian 2000 hair. Twenty-year-old hair on a 50-year-old head? Who are they trying to kid?”
Even men who have the sense to consult a reputable hairdresser tend to find the age difference a discouraging barrier. Realistically, what is someone brought up on Muffin the Mule going to have in common with the MTV generation? Suppose he gets his chest hairs caught in her body piercings? What if he discovers that he visits the same prostate specialist as her father? It’s just not worth the hassle, claims a not totally disinterested observer.
“A friend of mine, when he turned 50, suddenly bought a flashy car. Night after night he went clubbing with a different piece of jailbait. But after a few weeks, he’d wrecked the car, the jailbait had cleaned him out and he was at the doctor’s complaining of deafness and knackered knee joints,” he said.
What to do? Author and broadcaster, Dr Trisha Macnair says, “Midlife crises aren’t so much about recapturing lost youth as redefining who you are and making the next phase just as exciting. This doesn’t mean running off with a younger woman. More than half of men who do so will go on to regret it. Re-evaluate your current relationships and get back whatever self-esteem, thrills, or adoration you think you’re lacking through work, sport, self-expression, or whatever. Stay optimistic.”
In other words, wake up and smell the coffee. There are worse things in life than looking in the mirror and seeing Daniel Craig, even if no one else does. At least it’s not Roger Moore.
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