The Best Things About Being A Middle-Aged Guy in New York
The idea of aging used to terrify me. America, young, randy and so fashionably decadent, worships youth. Coming up on 40, I became so neurotic about not having achieved any level of what could be termed "worldly success" whatsoever that I actually took to consulting a shrink for a while, a fruitless endeavor for anyone at any age and particularly unseemly for a man approaching middle age. I made an effort to quit drinking in a moment of existential despair and pointless fear of my own mortality.
Now, at 46, rapidly approaching 47, I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I fired my shrink three years ago when the incompetent bitch tried to persuade my now ex-wife to have me committed. I persuaded the wife to leave through the judicious application of several forms of nonviolent abuse. I not only ceased my absurd effort to quit drinking, but I upped the ante by reverting to the sort of substance abuse pattern I enjoyed as a teenager. I learned how to drive. Life is an endless ribbon of highway leading to ever-increasing novelty and adventure.
Elements of a middle-aged life well-lived.
The most noticeable improvement that comes as a man approaches 50 is confidence. Not to be mistaken for the youthful arrogance of, say, the twentysomething dot-com lemmings or the detestable MTV creatures, this is the easygoing, dockside confidence of the gentleman loser. Humphrey Bogart probably did it best, and thereís been no credible effort to fill the hole he left in the archetypal landscape of American culture. Face it, if you havenít done it by 45, you probably wonít. Itís a relaxing posture. I still have ambitions, but they are realistic and scaled to what I know I can achieve. As Dirty Harry said in Magnum Force, "A manís got to know his limitations."
Getting laid is a lot easier now. Men tend to age well, if they make the slightest effort to stay in shape. Itís come to my attention that women between the ages of 25 and 40 generally arenít worth the effort it takes to get my trousers off. Under 25, they still have a sense of adventure and reckless abandon, and over 40, most have come to their senses and begun to realize that the Masters of the Universe are a pack of loathsome controlling shits and the pool guy is invariably a better lover with a healthier prostate and outlook. I no longer pander to feminists. Feminism is a fine philosophy for a lesbian. It tends to turn heterosexual women into frustrated, conflicted basket cases, forever juggling the desperate need to achieve with the biological imperative of the Mommy Track and the need for some awful Alpha Male to build a nest with.
I didnít really appreciate Nietzsche before, or Jimmy Buffett. Suddenly, it all makes sense. I no longer run to catch trains. I am nearly invisible to the cops. For one thing, most of the cops I meet on the street are young enough to be my bastard children. Another big point here is that middle-aged men are generally perceived as safe so long as they are reasonably well-groomed and well-spoken.
If you do what you enjoy for a long enough period of time, eventually someone will pay you to do it. I am blessed with a modest but sufficient income by virtue of my capacity to deliver a good rant on command, something Iíve been refining since I learned how to speak. Iíve been hard at work developing my capacity to insult and offend, and I can insult people from many cultures in their own heathen tongues as a result. I have no racial guilt whatsoever and am now quite comfortable with hurling the most vicious forms of verbal abuse at persons young and old who wander into my sights.
Most people are okay. My misanthropy has settled considerably now that Iíve passed through my angst-ridden 30s. When I was 39 I wanted to destroy the world; nowadays, it hardly seems worth the effort and besides, itís doing a wonderful job on its own. Not having any children, I really donít give two shits about the future, which has removed a huge load of bogus, self-inflicted anxiety from my ass. I used to get all uptight about the environment and various other political issues, like war. Honestly, at this point, all I really care about is novelty and making sure I have ringside seats for whatever awful spectacle is about to unfold.
Learning to drive at age 43 was a terrific choice. Driving in the city is great fun; itís like a video game. Itís a good idea to keep trying and learning new things, and I never understood the appeal of the automobile before. I intend to learn French and calculus before I hit 50.
Itís very easy to frighten street thugs now. I used to be intimidated by the various obnoxious miscreants who pester people in the streets and subways, but now very few of them have the nerve to approach me, and I greet the few who do very warmly just before I casually unleash some unbelievably frightening non-sequitur that invariably drives them away.
Iím looking forward to actual old age, to becoming a "senior citizen." I intend to carry a combat-modified Colt .45 in a shoulder holster and wear suits: tweeds in the winter, seersuckers in the summer. A 65-year-old man with no priors isnít going to get any trouble from John Law in the year 2019, and it might be fun to plink at the various cyborgs and robots that will be gallivanting around town leaking hydraulic fluids over nearly everything and panhandling, trying to make the rest of us feel guilty for having actual DNA-based skin.
The future is bright and shiny and filled with exhilarating adventures. Youth worship is over. Welcome to the Age of the Old Fart at Play.
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