Did you ever see an old car that stirred up some nostalgia? It happened to baby boomer and former stand-up comedian Forrest Brakeman of La Canada, California. And it made him wonder, “Wait, Was That My Midlife Crisis?”
I was too busy to recognize it at the time, but I can pinpoint the exact moment when I missed my midlife crisis.
It was a mundane afternoon in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month, in the middle of my life. I was driving around and saw a blue ’67 Mustang for sale, in pretty good shape, parked at the curb.
I instantly flashed back to my first car: a ’67 Mustang 3-speed stick. Mine was a $600 used car lot special with a million miles on it, Bondo patches all over the back quarter panels, and U-joints you could hear clunking from miles away.
But I loved it.
Now, I was totally expecting to have the big midlife crisis that all men go through. I just didn’t know what it would look like. Maybe I would wake up one day, quit my job, and want to spend our meager retirement money on a condo on some remote Caribbean island where we would live out our lives partially dressed, sipping drinks from a pineapple.
Of course the only island we could afford would be underwater during high tide and a vacation retreat for the world’s mosquitos.
Or I could empty out the garage and start a ’70’s tribute band with a bunch of my buddies. We would drink beer and “jam” our versions of “Brandy, You’re A Fine Girl,” or “I Can’t Stop This Feeling,” or when we get really loopy, “Free Bird.”
Except none of my friends really plays instruments, and we have that in common.
Or perhaps out of the blue I would get the urge to trade in my lovely wife, who totally gets me, for a younger model. And by model, I mean the leggy super kind that likes to eat gigantic hamburgers close-up in slow motion.
But the realization that I would have to carry on a conversation with someone whose idea of fun is not only staying up past 10 p.m., but actually leaving the house to go to some place called “clubbing,” puts the damper on that kind of frolic.
Part of the problem is, we are still raising our kids. We started late, so it’s hard to think about getting hair plugs or taking up formation skydiving when I’m freaking out over how my oldest is going to be able to afford to go to college this year.
When I came home and told my wife about the Mustang, and that it was about $7,000, she laughed and brushed it off as yet another thing that there was no way in hell we could afford. And she went about her business, and I went about mine (because she was right), and quickly forgot about the car.
So I missed it. My midlife crisis. It had passed.
It wasn’t a gigantic, home-shattering, flaming ball of emotional wreckage that resulted in too much Botox, a whole new wardrobe better suited for a tattooed Millennial, or endless paperwork from divorce lawyers. No, it didn’t leave all our friends shaking their heads and wondering what the hell happened, and how those kids were going to deal with their nut-job dad.
Nope. It was just a used car on the side of the road.