Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition 4.23

So I have a birthday coming up tomorrow. I’m over 40.

Now, I’m usually not one to make a fuss about birthdays, especially my own. I don’t think about it all that much. To me, it’s just another day. As long as I feel good, and as long as I can still spike a volleyball and paddle a surfboard, and as long as I still like looking at pretty girls, I figure everything’s working as it should, so my age doesn’t really matter.

But I’m wondering about you all and milestone ages.

My story is as follows:

When I turned 40, my friends and family all seemed touched by my milestone in some way. They all seemed to get some enjoyment out of the fact that I’m no longer the target demographic for most TV commercials. Many took peculiar delight that my yearly physicals now include strange exploratory procedures. Others pointed out that in just about any athletic competition, I easily qualify to participate in the Seniors division. They found it interesting that I am now considered middle-aged.

Even these days, when I tell people how old I am, I get responses like, “Ooohhh . . . . ! Wow, I can’t believe you lived this long.” Or, “Jesus, you’re over 40? I hope I look as good as you when I’m so near death.”

For my part though, I’m not really feeling it. I don’t feel any different than I did 8 or 9 years. And I say 8 or 9 years, because that was the last time I remember feeling any real change in my body. Things started to hurt that never hurt before, and they would hurt for a long time; knees, back, the occasional hip thing. But those aches and pains became a part of my life, just as I suppose being over 40 will. But for now, I don’t feel any different.

Of course, when I was kid, I’d see men who were approaching or passing 40 having these wonderful mid-life crises. They would buy themselves a tight pair of jeans and a frilly shirt, get a sports car, and start dating hot young women. It was all the rage. That’s the way they did it in the 1970s.

But I don’t know if that’s right for me either. I don’t really want a sports car, and I can’t stand tight jeans, but . . . . I guess the thing is, I don’t really have a buttoned-down life to escape from.

Still, if I’m going to make something out of being over 40, and it seems everyone wants me to, I might as well take advantage of this dynamic, if I can. I might as well act the fool while I’ve got a free pass, right?

“Who let the old guy into the club?” people will say. “And can someone make him stop dancing like that? It’s very disturbing.”

And then someone else will remark, “Oh, it’s okay. He’s just having a mid-life crisis.”

Before you know it, the kids will have adopted me as sort of a mascot. I think I can make a mid-life crisis work for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to hit the dance clubs right away. I was thinking of starting slowly. Maybe to begin with, I’ll do something that’s not too far over the top. Perhaps a spanking new tattoo and a young stripper girlfriend, or something like that. I think that fits the bill nicely. Of course, I’ll have to stop using phrases like “spanking new”, otherwise I’ll never get a young stripper girlfriend. But I’m just brainstorming right now. I’m not ready to put the plan into action just yet.

And if my mid-life crisis doesn’t work out, there’s still good news for me and everyone else reaching two score in age. Newspapers and the Internet keep telling me that 40 is the new 30.

When I heard that, I thought Wow, that’s pretty damn convenient. It’s perfect timing. I’m 40 just as 40 is becoming the new 30. And I can only assume that this trend will hold true for the rest of my life. When I turn 50, 50 will be the new 30, and then 60, and so on. Hell, I’m going to be 30 for the rest of my life!

Anyway, despite my flippancy, I know that aging can be a hard fact of life. It’s a ticking reminder that we are here for just a short while. But I try not to let it bother me. The truth is, as long as I feel good and I have good people around me, I don’t care how old I am. I just hope to live my life well and be a good guy, no matter my age.

Of course a cool tattoo and a hot, young stripper girlfriend wouldn’t really hurt anything.

I’m just saying . . .

So, have you had a mid-life crisis? And if you’re not there yet, do certain age milestones concern you? How do you celebrate them? How do you handle aging?

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. My daughter turned 10 yesterday. It made me stop and notice that we are all getting older. I doesn’t bother me, quite the opposite actually she’s growing into a really cool person. I think it was the number 10 being applied to a milestone (the number of years I’ve been a parent) hat really made me sit up and notice rather than just making her favorite dinner and eating another cake.

    It was a good day.

  2. I’m about due for my mid-life crisis, but I find that I am just too busy. I’ve got kids who just got married, kids applying for college, a wife who just went back to college, and work has become challenging enough with the down economy to keep me from spending any time thinking about whether 40 is the new pink or whether Mount Everest really needs one more old fart on it.

    I think that mid-life crises are not driven by your age, but by your boredom. You don’t sound bored. I’m not bored. So I think that we are safe.

    It might help that – since my wife is getting her masters – I am telling everyone that I am dating a hot college student.

  3. This may sound sad and/or pathetic, but I’m about to turn 28, and I feel like I’ve had 3 so far. I’m not where I wanted to be as a kid, in 2 years, I will officially be “old”. I say that because does anyone look back and say, back in my wild 30’s. I mean, I’m ok, in that I’m in a stable job, and I live a desent lifestyle. However, I’ve never really had a substantial relationship, and do I really want to be single and in my 30’s? Gay boys are really superficial, and I don’t want to end up being that old creepy guy down the corner who has 30 cats. If life had a reset button, I’d soooo want to push it.

  4. No -not a midlife crisis- you are still too young for that. Just a realization.

    I didn’t care for my 40’s too much – but really am loving my 50’s. Still waiting for my midlife crisis (where is that Porche?).

    Some of my colleagues have gone through it – complete with hot car, and hot chick. Perhaps I missed that phase (ok, there was a divorce about five years ago – maybe not) — but I find my colleagues who did this rather strange. What on earth are they doing — enjoy the age, enjoy the time – it won’t pass this way again. And for God’s sake, if you are going to find someone a lot younger, make certain she is (a) smart (b) a skeptic (c) makes you laugh

  5. I’m 22, just graduated from university, utterly broke, and the realisation has just hit me that maybe a degree in writing and philosophy wasn’t the best idea after all. Does this count as a quarter-life crisis?

  6. Sam, at the next Houston Skeptics meet, I will buy you a birthday beer or three. Missed you at the last one!

    Do I feel like I did when I was 18? Not exactly – I’m smarter, wiser, more worldly, more skilled, and sexier. Do I think of myself as old, or older? No. No mid-life crisis. I have the same passion for life, the same curiosity, the same optimism. More wrinkles, but more money. As a close friend said last week when he had a date with a woman his exact age (40), “She’s old. I choose to be young. She chose old.”

    I choose young.

  7. Happy early birthday! Your avatar doesn’t look a day over eighteen.

    I have to admit, my impending 28th birthday is making me a think a little about Being Thirty. Nothing like that has ever bothered me before, and I didn’t expect it ever to … maybe it’s emphasized by having a kid. My daughter will turn 4 in a few months, and it puts stuff like that into sharper focus. I hope to just use it as a impetus to get going on the things I still want to accomplish.

  8. I turn 50 this summer and currently have no plans other than going down to Seattle for a couple of days and hitting a couple of restaurants with my wife and relaxing. In some respects I feel better than I did at 40 due to a back injury I inflicted on myself five days before my fortieth birthday and I’m a better golfer than I was ten years ago. Like you Sam I shave my head and that more than just about anything makes your age harder to determine, so I’d stick with the look!

    I haven’t had a midlife crisis that I can think of. If I could afford a sports car I would buy one regardless of my age. I like being married to who I’m married to a whole lot so no likely adventures there. I suppose the big milestones I’m going through currently involve my 15 and 18 year old children and the transitions that happen in the parent child relationship.

    Some of those “strange exploratory procedures” have little to no scientific research or evidence as to their efficacy or ability to ever find disease, and the digital exam is not taught in medical schools and not performed as a regular screening procedure in Australia or Europe.

  9. I’ll be 40 next year and I’m planning to live it up old style. Husband and I are planning on renting an RV, taking a month off work and heading across the country. I want one of those fill in the states maps. I also want matching lawn chairs so we can sit outside the RV and bullshit with the neighbors.

    I am having a bit of a midlife crisis though. I’m definitely hurting in places I haven’t and I’m applying for another master’s program. No Porsche, but I do have SHAG skulls on my PT cruiser.

  10. Happy early birthday.
    If I can recall milestones were:
    Pre 16 can’t remember details
    16 Driver’s License
    18 Voting age & an election year; graduate High School (5 year program)
    19 Old enough to drink (legally) – Ontario
    20 First that end’s in zero and was old enough to apretiate
    21 Drink in Michigan (Border town – not Windsor)
    25 Car insurance goes up by less this year
    30 cause it’s dirty
    40 The 30’s obsessional pain is more constant – and over 10 years in the same job
    41 Lived longer than 3 of my grandparents
    42 (soon) Life the universe & everything

    Also at 40 realized I need to get out and do more.
    Can’t afford mid life crisis; would like one. Sports car and dating women of questionable morals looks good at this time. :)

  11. I’m turning 30 next year, and have no plans to celebrate it at all.

    It feels like all of my friends have some sort of crisis going on, but strangely enough, I don’t feel that way, I’m pretty happy right now. I haven’t achieved everything I planned 10 years ago, but I don’t care, I have new goals instead. My body has changed, but so has my mind, and I’m wiser, I know my self a lot better, and I’m a lot happier and selfconfident.

  12. @geek goddess:


    By the way, I RSVP for the UH presentation. It should be good. I’m looking forward to getting out of this office for a while and doing something sciency/skepticky.


    Thanks, Jen! And as you know, we look exactly like our avatars.

    You know, kids really seem to punctuate the passage of time. I have nieces and nephews, and each time I see them I feel like someone drugged me and I was out cold for a couple of years. Can someone slow them down a little, just so we adults don’t have realize how fast the years slip by?

    @James Fox:

    Well, you know, my active life is such an important part of who I am. I try to balance my intillectual pursuits with a good bit of physical activity. And right now the balance is still pretty good. I’m fit. I’m not slowing the younger folks down. I’m still competing.

    But I can see how that balance will change more with age, and that concerns me. Although maybe (barring any serious injury) the decline will be so gradual, I won’t notice that I’m reading and writing 16 hours a day instead of splitting the day up equally.


    I’ve done the cross-country road trip before, and had an amazing time. That’s quite a novel way to celebrate a birthday milestone. Hope you have a blast.

  13. Steve, I’m in the same place as you – I turn 40 in about two weeks. I have no idea what 40 feels like, but really, 40 is only a milestone ’cause we have ten fingers – it’s no more important than 39 or 41.

    When I turned 30, I was fire-eating at a festival in GA and living in a rusting RV. I spent the evening with friends and the night with my pet rats. I don’t imagine 40 will be significantly different. My life is pretty damn good and I know a lot of people who would trade it in a heartbeat.

    Of course, if that stripper girlfriend has a sister…

  14. I remember reading many years ago (I forget where now) that studies showed that the best predictor of midlife crisis timing is that the husband goes through a midlife crisis when the wife goes through menopause. This is apparently irrespective of differing ages either way.
    So, if you aren’t a man shacked up with a woman, you’ll probably skip the midlife crisis entirely.
    Dunno if it’s true, but it seems plausible.

  15. Let’s see…

    – My car is a gray compact sedan.
    – I’ve yet to date someone half my age.
    – No tattoos or piercings.
    – No nips, tucks, lifts or botox.

    I’m either extremely comfortable with my age or extremely boring.

    (spell checker wants to change “botox” to “bot ox”, “bottom” or “botch”)

  16. Other people say I have, but I disagree. I think you can freak out at any age. If it happens to happen during your 40’s they call it a midlife crisis. My “midlife crisis” resulted in me deciding to use as few resources as possible. No more airplanes or cars or air conditioning. Lower the heat. Local food when possible. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The whole nine tree-hugging, granola eating yards. The very pleasant side-effect is tons more discretionary time and money. I recommend it to everyone and you don’t have to wait for middle age.

    Strippers are reusable, right?

  17. Turning quartercentarian last summer was pretty neat. I have no particular feelings about turning 26 this summer.

    27 though, that’ll be a big one for me. That’s how old my mom was when she had me, and I’m hoping that when this happens she’ll stop thinking of me as that 18-year-old she let go off to college that one year.

  18. I just turned 20 last week- the first email from a friend contained the line “Congrats! You’re half-way to your midlife crisis!” I was already having a moment on account of not being a teenager any more (now what do I blame my random stupidity on?)… Meanwhile, my parents were realising that their eldest is no longer a teenager. :) I think they’re overdue for their midlife crises, so…

  19. When I turned forty it meant that I only had eleven more years to coach youth soccer. When I turned fifty, I became a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician. Today I set eight foot 6×6 posts in concrete before mowing five acres of pasture. In another year I will turn 70. I don’t time for a mid-life crisis.

    You don’t either, if you do it right.

  20. I’m turning 50 this year, but not until late this year. Being on Facebook has put me back in touch with a lot of people who are going through this milestone a few months before me. All I can say is – it affects some people, but not me.

    I slide through the milestone ages by letting my wife go through them before me, then, a few months later, quietly consider mtself to have passed them also. I’ve thought of myself as 50 for a couple of years now, so it’s kind of a “surprise” that I won’t be until later this year.

    I’ll have a mid-life crisis when my wife lets me. I’m not holding my breath.

  21. I turned 41 this month, have a daughter about to graduate from high school, another who turned 15 and am gearing up to celebrate my 20th anniversary to my wonderfully skeptical husband.

    I love seeing my children become more independent as I continue to become my “true” self. I have discovered my own skepticism and confidence in who I want to be as a woman. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  22. At 40, no acting out yet, but perhaps the opposite has happened. As I understand it, the script for a midlife crisis calls for doing selfish, crazy things. Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted a hot rod and to travel the world, but am now recognizing I probably won’t pull either of those things off. Not anytime soon, anyway.
    Also, seems to me the Midlife Crisis is just another Santa Claus growing-up myth we accumulate when young, waiting for the inevitable debunking.

  23. I’m 52 (4/19 birthday ) and I guess because I spend enough time in the gym , bike a little, kayak a little, ski a little, play some sports competitively a little, eat adequately usually, stay mentally engaged a lot, hang out with my 15 yr old son enough, laugh everyday, keep current with a sufficient amount of pop culture and new media , and am fortunate enough to have most of my hair I have, for the past ten years ,reached the age of ” YOU LOOK GOOD FOR YOUR AGE.” But this has always implied that I had reached an age when some people had the potential to look terrible. Thus, my younger compadres were essentially saying, ” at least you don’t look terrible.” Crisis? What crisis! In my early 40s I got my tattoo and I paraglided off the cliffs of California. If playing with the updrafts over the Pacific ocean was a mid life crisis, I can’t wait for my next one. Regarding the tattoo – it’s two dolphins with the initials of my children superimposed. Hey? At least I don’t have snake tattoos, complete with rear ends of rats sticking out of their reptilian mouths, wrapped arong my neck. At least not yet. :)

  24. Turned 37 last month. So no mid life crisis yet. As far as the aches and pains, I’ve been an athlete all of my life so I always have some ache or pain. My knees swell when the pressure changes. My back has hurt since I was 14. I have had some level of a head ache every day since I was in the 4th grade. I make poppy crackly sounds while I walk, especially up or down stairs. My knuckles are so swollen and ugly it looks like I have marbles under the skin. Most mid-life crisis scenerios don’t apeal to me. If I were to have one I would probably apply to a PHD program for biologists. I would love, love, love to be a microbiologist, studying all of the little beasties in a drop of water.

  25. Considering that genetic factors lower my mortality to age 60, I’m in mid-life at 30 (well, in a few months, anyhow).

    Still no “crisis” to speak of. Maybe I’m not old enough to appreciate it yet or something – but I always thought that the “mid-life crisis” had a lot to do with fear of death. It also seems like fear of death has a lot to do with fear of the “afterlife” (isn’t it actually an “afterdeath life”?… that always bugs me…).

    Since I have no fear of what comes after death (let’s just say I’m dying to get into med school), I don’t really think I’ll have a mid-life crisis.

  26. Your are over 40? Really?

    Reading the content you post here I had assumed that you were a 20s-or early 30s something, not because of any inherent preconceived notions about bloggers in general but because, well, what you put up goes against my preconceived notions of what a 40 something would post. Uhh…

  27. I can’t afford a mid-life crisis

    What’s funny is the psychotic nature of my aging. Chronologically I’m 53. Psychologically I feel about 25 (although my ex-wife claimed it was more like 12. I can’t imagine what she meant by that). Physically, I feel about 85.

    It would be nice if all those factors would balance out.

  28. I’ve found more and more lately, that I am liking my birthdays again. For rigorous scientific testing has shown that people who have more birthdays live longer!

    ps I saw PZ in Ashland Oregon tonight. Great talk, but the q&a at the end was a bit short.

  29. @Sam Ogden:
    possibly, she’s hit that point where Santa doesn’t make sense, she refuses to play ghost hunting with her friends and she told me she hates Hebrew because “it’s just a bunch of dumb stories that can’t possibly be true”.

    Any chance there’s a “tween Skepchick” site in the making? Gotta work those younger demographics. It could be devoted to researching if Joe Jonas really is the cute one, and stuff like that.

  30. @ Sam Ogden: You misunderstand, or I did not articulate my point clearly. My point was that your age is irrelevant and the content you have put up, and that while you are older than I had thought – you do not SEEM to me to be “old”. If you equate youth with having stuff to talk about, then you by your own defenition are young or atleast not “old.”

    I had hoped by airing my own preconceptions that it would be clear that many of us have them, and that they are always inaccurate and somewhat unrealistic. They exist to be changed, in my opinion. My point was that my preconception is still restrictive and unreasonable, and I think you got that although perhaps not in the context I had intended.

  31. Sam, No sweating this age thing. So what, I have to keep blogs to remember things I did recently, so what that I now even track my injuries. It is all just part of getting a bit older. Halfway through my 40s and I am still happy. I think that is the thing that matters most. What can we all do to get through life feeling happy and fulfilled? Although for the last few years I have been thinking of a tatoo, but not out of crisis, I always said I didn’t want to get one until I really knew who I was. I think the time may be coming.

  32. Sam, I remember being in grade-school and calculating that I’d be 26 in Y2k. I spent a lot of time thinking I’d be too old to enjoy it. Of course the realization has been that I haven’t gotten old nearly the way we thought we would. I still play computer games, and I can still knock’em dead in a kilt and get blasted with the bests Scotsmen.
    The interesting thing for me was seeing my daughter born just over a month ago. It brought with it all the hopes about the future that such things bring. But, I couldn’t help but realize my own mortality at the same time. Realizing that now I had made the transition into being the parent and the “old” person and eventually this little person would laugh with her friends about how her parents used to dress in black and listen to that punk music, etc.

  33. @James Fox:

    That’s assuming I ever had humor to begin with.


    I still play computer games, and I can still knock’em dead in a kilt and get blasted with the bests Scotsmen.

    Yeah, this has been one of the greatest surprises of my life, I think. Let me see if I can explain (sorry if I get convoluted):

    When I was little and looking at adult men, I just assumed they thought and acted differently than I as a young boy did and certainlt differently then they as young boys did (I didn’t and still don’t have a clue about women). I thought that with maturity came a different mindset about music, humor, passtimes, interpersonal relationships, desires, needs, etc., etc. And I suppose when some men reach adulthood, all that is different, and maybe on some levels it’s different for me, too. But I was surprised and am continually grateful that I never became the adult I thought the men were back then. I mean, I still feel like the same kid. My internal dialog is still the same. I laugh at the same types of things. All of that stuff has stayed pretty much the same.

    Am I making any sense??

    Anyway, maybe a lot of kids have that misconception about becoming adults. I don’t know, but it’s great to know that a lot of the joy and elan we have as children never goes away.

  34. So what, Sam? I’m over 50. It’s just a number. You’re as old as you act and feel.

    I didn’t have a midlife crisis at 40, but I’m in one now. I wish I could find some answers to my questions. I think you’re right that everyone has their own “aging” experience. There are commonalities, of course, because we’re still human.

  35. @Sam Ogden: Yup, makes total sense. I feel the same way. I know I’ve changed but sometimes it seems like I’m still the same person I was at 25, just with a larger focus on naps. On the other hand, I’ve increasingly noticed the folks that are my age but haven’t matured at all.

  36. I turned 40 a few years back, and I joked with my wife that I couldn’t have a midlife crisis because we couldn’t afford a red sports car. Moreover, the various constraints on a hot stripper girlfriend might make it impossible to find her: I mean, I love my wife and don’t want to leave her, so the girlfriend and she would have to get along and be happy sharing.

    As for the tattoo, I was just talking with my wife about tattoos and realized that there’s really nothing that I would particularly want to decorate my body with. Hell, I don’t have pictures up on the walls (rental apartment). She mentioned having the work of M. C. Escher up on her walls in her single days, and that was a thought, but I don’t really know that I’d want any particular Escher piece as a tattoo since I like to rotate my art work on the wall, and I’d want to be able to rotate it on my body as well.

  37. I turned 20 in March, and I kind of freaked out about it, for most of the same reasons Edonil had too. I remember turning 10 was kind of a big deal for me, but not nearly being 20.
    And something else: I’m nowhere near who I thought I would be, when I was thinking about it in high school. I haven’t gotten that novel ready to publish yet, and I’m at a community college rather than a major university, and I now have a list of ‘things I wish I’d known sooner’.
    Funny enough, the ten-year-old I was could have better predicted who I am now than my teenage self did.
    @Steve on dating someone half his age: I hope to be at Dragon*Con. Want to try one of those Darwinian pick up lines? ;)

  38. @ SAM

    “My internal dialog is still the same. I laugh at the same types of things. All of that stuff has stayed pretty much the same.”

    Very true. I think that definitely goes for most of us over 40, but the joy of aging ( for lack of a better phrase ) is that it comes with an expanded vocabulary and range of experience. The CORE of us ,I think, remains essentially unchanged ( unless we are effected by an intense event or two or three), but there is MORE to laugh at, MORE to discuss, MORE to think about, MORE to share.

    Aging is important , because as time passes we can adapt and change to what we learn if we are open to such information. One need not be over 40 to do so however. There is just more opportunity to do so over time.

    I dare say that most of us were not born into skeptical households, yet here we are at the age of 20 or the age of 70, skeptically questioning the world, accepting the tenants of the scientific method as a crucial world view.

    But just because we are skeptics, or 50, or a financial success, or a financial failure doesn’t mean that we won’t still laugh at Curly n’yukking in present day time if we liked him when we were 12 years old as well.

  39. You know this is kind of funny. Somewhere between dropping the kids off for school and 10:00am I did something. Don’t know what but I can barely move. My back muscles are spasming and hurst so bad. Feel like such and old man right now.

  40. @Penn: Ok, I can buy that, but what if your S.O. had to have a hysterectomy/ovarectomy when she was young or something? That would cause premature menopause. Does that imply that the male in that scenario should go through an early “midlife crisis?” BTW, is there a such thing as the alleged “male menopause?”

  41. @GabrielBrawley: I know exactly what you’re going through, as I’m dealing with that as I type. I’ve been in agony for the last week or so. Next week, I get an x-ray to see what shifted in what’s left of my lower spine..THIS time…
    Sooner or later, the Borg-ification of my body will continue when they decide it’s time to put the titanium down there.
    Why can’t I get the really cool Borg implants? :-(

  42. My 29th birthday was a huge milestone. I really felt that one year left of my 20’s. I angsted and retrospected and had a huge beach party to prove I was still young.

    I expected to feel the same way on my 39th birthday, but all I remember is shuffling through life/parenting/work as usual.

    Tomorrow is my 48th birthday and I’ve gone through quite a few life changes in the last few years. So I’m thinking my 49th birthday will be just fine. As long as I get there.

  43. Never really had a mid-life crisis, at least not in the typical sense we’re discussing here — I was homeless for my 49th year, but that’s something else again.

    I must say though that turning 50 was a bit unpleasant. And I am definitely not looking forward to turning 60. That’s old, man, old.

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