Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rejoice in the Mid-Life Crisis

It happens to so many others that, having passed the age of forty several years ago and with no identifiable mental relapse in sight, I decided that it was time to manufacture my own mid-life crisis.

I didn’t want anything too drastic. Nothing which might lend my medical partners to think I was becoming unhinged and thus cause them to collectively secure my accommodation in the nearest psychiatric ward. Neither did I want to cause my long-suffering and devoted wife any further difficulty in trying to understand the nuances of my labyrinthine mind. No, I just wanted something that would send out a message advertising a slightly new me; a personal upgrade, so to speak: a relatively harmless, private revolution, which, nonetheless, would signify that there was still life and ambition in this particular individual.

Thus, it was that I did away with the side parting of my hair and stopped having the traditional short-back-and-sides that had been my wont for the past twenty-five years. Yes, I decided to let my hair grow long, or at least enough to sweep it back on top and the sides. For a former army officer, a mutinous act, if I have ever heard of one. However, for me, it was all the statement I needed to make to announce my ‘re-birth’ so to speak. Overall, it was quite exhilarating.

In his book, Untold Stories, Alan Bennett describes how at puberty his colleagues ‘abandoned their fringe’ and ‘put their hair back’, a process which required the endurance ‘of a few weeks of mockery whilst they looked like hedgehogs’. I can relate to that, as, on returning home from the hairdressers on that auspicious day of change, I was left with the overriding impression that I resembled Sonic the Hedgehog.

‘I’ll get used to it,’ said my wife in a resigned voice.

‘New hair style?’ said my senior partner, eyeing me for signs of madness.

‘Brisk wind outside?’ said two colleagues at the Lodge, both sporting wide grins.

‘Nice bouffant,’ remarked the Chairman of a local charity committee.

‘It’s my mid-life crisis,’ I proudly replied to them all. ‘Everyone else is having one, so I thought, why not me?’

The only patients who commented were ladies in their seventies, for whom it was the talking point for every visit to the surgery. Seemingly, from the nature of their comments, the new me had found favour there. So, that was it, my mid-life crisis had made me attractive to septuagenarians. Not quite the effect I had been looking for, but at least it was a positive result of sorts.

It was many weeks later that one of the receptionists greeted me with what can only be described as a cross between a bemused smirk and an evil grin.

‘I’ve just had a teenager come to the desk to make a follow-up appointment to see you,’ she said.

That is not an unusual occurrence in a medical practice, so I waited for the significant part of the statement. It was not long in coming.

‘She asked for “the cute one with the ‘tasche’”.’

So, what does that tell me? It seems that my mid-life crisis has ‘succeeded’ in making me the ‘darling’ of certain septuagenarians and appearing ‘sweet’ to the younger population. A sort of aged no-mans land. At least my wife has got used to the change; or at least I think she has. If not, then I foresee a real mid-life crisis looming on the horizon, and not one for rejoicing over, either!

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