The Boulevardier is hurtling through his 40s and facing challenges usually associated with a midlife crisis. In fact they are no longer called such and the politically correct term is midlife transition. I guess the word crisis is not politically correct and might offend some.
I thought that the main component to hit me was a return to punk which I had lived in my latter years at school. At 39 (nearly 40) my hair was dyed blue black and I shopped in Camden again, rueing the closing of Kensington Market.
This has passed but I still score 16/40 on the top signs of a midlife episode as researched by the Telegraph and added to the end of this post for your attention and amusement.
Am I a cliché? I decided to check in with friends of a similar age, and potentially similar predicament. Their responses and experiences are in some ways funny but also quite sad and delusional. However, this helps to put everything in perspective.
One glitzy friend who I have known for a number of years always strived for flashy and ostentatious cars, and sometimes when he could ill afford them. My dad often referred to him as trying to live life as a playboy! My dad also relishes opportunities to point out his greying hair which receives external and polite smiles but internal grimaces. My other friends subject to my study are in a similar type of situation but perhaps not as extreme.
The main and recurring themes are as follows:
Forty seems to have been an incredibly difficult milestone to hit and attempts to reverse the effects have been avidly pursued since. Most are now plunging toward mid-forties.
This reversal took shape by weight loss and spending noteworthy time in the gym. The spoils of which are shared when hitting the town again on a Friday night; an occupation that most of them gave up in their late twenties. Are these social events to be enjoyable occasions with friends? Well yes in part, but also time to validate the success of the age-reversing project.
The need to corroborate with young men and women how old they look seemed to be an almost universal theme. The surveys have elicited responses from twenty six to forty three. To hear the numbers in the twenties fills them with ecstasy and motivates harder gym sessions to continue their successful age-reversal strategies. However, when the responses have hit forty and higher my friends get despondent and depressed. This surely is an unnecessary emotional roller coaster? One respondent said that if they give higher numbers he asks if they are joking and quickly moves on to the next one willing to engage with him.
To prepare for these events they apparently spend one and a half hours pruning and preening (not too excessive in the Boulevardier’s mind). They couple crisp shirts with Essexesque suits, highly polished shoes, don sunglasses and smother in St Tropez. The planning for Friday night events starts on Monday with the outfit planned and trialled by Wednesday.
They long to be compared to celebrities. I have heard everything from Gavin Henson and Mario from TOWIE, to George Michael.
Another said that he even asks those surveyed ‘Do you think I’m sexy?’ This presumably evokes various responses which he was not keen to share.
The celebrations are a mix of pouting, posing, drinking and dancing. The favoured drinks of Kahlua and diet coke, Malibou and Tia Maria scream the 1980s. Who do they think they’re fooling?
They stave off dad-dancing tendencies by practicing in the mirror. I’m not sure they successfully pull this off but I don’t have evidence either way to validate or dispel.
They feel as if they are acting naturally and not doing anything wrong. But they are. These are crimes against forty year old men. They should wear their grey with pride, which I can now speak of without reserve as ‘Operation Grey’ (see earlier blog) has been successful. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a nice Oloroso sherry in residence with a freshly cooked Boeuf Bourguignon while in raptures about your new napkin rings.
We all saw older men and women at clubs when we were in the prime of youth. They were often sources of amusement and in their own world. Are my friends any different? Should I put them out of their misery? Will they still be doing this on their Zimmer frames?
I think another shock is that these are not a group of friends who are mutual friends. I spoke to five separately who have no common contact other than me. It’s a disease. And oddly enough they all wish to remain anonymous!
The saving grace was one friend who said he didn’t understand this obsession with constantly striving to look younger. This was also directed at me. I suppose I should be grateful to have a balanced group to look to and at.
I found the below study published by the Telegraph detailing the top 40 signs of a midlife crisis. I thought I was struggling at 16 but was reassured by Harry at 24. I asked on Facebook what people’s scores were and those that responded ranged from 5-27 with an average of 18.
When we are young we will and demand the future. We push forward with such vigour and excitement. I’m not saying that we stop pushing forwards as we age but we also take time to appreciate the moments as they occur. We miss this when we are young. We miss savouring the good times and good people and can look back years later and wonder and yearn.
We need to strike a balance of not looking back to the point where we force ourselves into a second youth but attack, whatever our age, with the appropriate level of dynamism.
My poor friends, their flash is fading. I think this Boulevardier needs to sit down with them and help them to accept the displacement age brings with grace and class.
The top 40 signs of having a midlife crisis
1 Desiring a simpler life
2 Still going to music festivals like Glastonbury
3 Start looking up old boyfriends or girlfriends on Facebook
4 Realise you will never be able to pay off your mortgage
5 Joining Twitter so your bosses think you ‘get’ digital
6 Excessively reminisce about your childhood
7 Take no pleasure in your friends’ successes
8 Splashing out on an expensive bicycle
9 Sudden desire to play an instrument
10 Fret over thinning hair
11 Take up a new hobby
12 Want to make the world a better place
13 Longingly look at old pictures of yourself
14 Dread calls at unexpected times from your parents (fearing the worst)
15 Go to reunion tours of your favourite bands from the 70s and 80s
16 Switch from Radio 2 to indie stations like 6 Music
17 Revisit holiday destinations you went to as a child
18 Cannot envisage a time when you will be able to afford to retire
19 Read obituaries in the newspapers with far greater interest — and always check how people die
20 Obsessively compare your appearance with others the same age
21 Start dyeing your hair when it goes grey
22 Stop telling people your age
23 Dream about being able to quit work but know that you’ll Just never be able to afford to
24 Start taking vitamin pills
25 Worry about being worse off in your retirement than your parents
26 Want to change your friends but don’t meet anyone new that you like
27 Think about quitting your Job and buying a bed & breakfast or a pub
28 Flirt embarrassingly with people 20 years your Junior
29 Look up your medical symptoms on the internet
30 Start thinking about going to church but never act on it
31 Always note when politicians or business leaders are younger than you
32 Contemplate having a hair transplant or plastic surgery
33 Take out a direct debit for a charity
34 Can’t sleep because of work worries
35 Hangovers get worse and last more than a day on occasions
36 Constantly compare your career success with your friends
37 Worry about a younger person taking your Job
38 Take up triathlons or another extreme sport
39 Find that you are very easily distracted
40 Realise that the only time you read books is when you are on holiday