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Heading toward mid-life like a car off the side of a cliff

John DiMambro

Since turning 40, and now accelerating toward the later half of my 40s as quickly as a car aimed over the side of Echo Summit, I have been thinking more and more about mid-life.

Fun guy to have around, ain’t I? You should see me at parties. Even field animals would want to hang themselves after hearing me talk. It’s not that I think about mid-life all of the time, because I don’t, but I just think about it more often. More often than I should.

Everyone has his or her own way to face the mid-life force field. Some buy a Harley. Some start listening to head-banging music. Some slip into the underworld of debauchery and duplicity. A trip in time to Sodom and Gomorra.

Me? I’ve become more introspective. More contemplative. In fact, my closest call to the wild side of life was the thought of getting a tattoo. My wife said she’d divorce me if I did. Really? C’mon – It’s just a tattoo! Just a small decal on my skin. My skin.

Besides, it was going to be on my upper arm, close to my shoulder, and no one could really see it. It’s not like I was going to start marching through shopping mall courts wearing jack boots, draped head-to-toe in sea serpent tattoos, enough metal in my face to erect a skyscraper in the middle of Carson Street, oversized ratty T-shirts, a worn-out pair of Keds, and baggy jeans that hang a good foot past my waist resembling an infant’s diaper that hasn’t been changed in about a week. Not me.

I don’t understand that type of overstated look and apparel anyway. Just one – one tattoo is all I want(ed). What is the big deal?

When I did have a body to boast, my jeans and shirts were tight, man. So tight, you could bounce a silver dollar off them and catch it in the air. None of those baggy potato sacks for me. Anyway, back to the tattoo and mid-life crisis. I never did get one, and my wife is still with me even though I’m now being blamed for my daughter wanting a second ear-piercing. All because I said I wanted a tattoo? You bet.

Mid-life. What a joy. You may buy a new convertible, or get a body piercing, or withdraw all of your savings for several trips to areas that are better seen just on Discovery or National Geographic. Some things just aren’t meant for everyone.

You know, it’s like looking at a catalog of merchandise you can’t afford. Or standing in front of your favorite grocer’s ice cream freezer while your belt is cutting into your waist a cast-iron band around a wine barrel. Then you surrender. You don’t admit defeat, even to yourself, but you hand over the gloves and surrender.

Report card grade: C minus for effort; F for result. Mid-life. Even your thought processes become slow. And surrender was never quicker. I never thought I’d be feeling this way about being in my 40s. Ever. Then again, I never really had to.

When you are in your 20s, your sunshine days are endless. Then autumn comes, and the sun is still resting above your head, but the days look grayer. And then, you look ahead. And the math just doesn’t seem to add up in your favor. Wintertime is near.

How many years before I turn 60? Help! Great, in 14 short years, I’ll be 60. Wonderful. What a thing to look forward to. Some people in their 60s and 70s, who are obviously in denial, give me some rap about how much better life is at that age. Really?! No kidding?

Yeah – sure it is. Now go back to your blender of wheatgrass and celery juice and leave me to my hourglass of sand. Besides, I don’t believe that rap. Don’t believe it at all. I’ll take my body back from when I was in my 20s, thanks. I know. This sounds horrible. But that’s me, folks. What can I tell ya’? I’m hopeless.

I remember seeing George Burns on TV variety shows when he was well into his 90s. “Ohhhh, doesn’t he look good?” A frequent marriage of both question and statement by my mother. My reply: “Look good? Ma, the guy is older than his own birthday. No, he doesn’t look good.” Pruned tomatoes look good against rotten ones, but they’re not going in my salad bowl.

Anyway, what does this all mean? It means I’m not getting my tattoo, that’s what. It also means that if I live to be in my 60s or 70s or more, I’ll be telling those much younger than me how much better it is to be older as I sip carrot juice while downing a handful of pills.

Then again, maybe by that time my wife will give in, and we will both surrender and say, “What’s the big deal?” Both of us will march through shopping mall courts, covered head to toe with tattoos and body piercings, and gallons of ice cream waiting in our freezer. Ya think? Nah…

n John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at jdimambro@nevada appeal.com.