FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|By: Ron Brounes||
A few months ago, another birthday invitation arrived in the mail (no…not Chuck E Cheese) as one by one many of our friends are turning 50. (We always ran with an older crowd; at least, we did before kids.) Though our days are now filled with diaper changes, t-ball games, carpool, and 3:00 am wake-up calls (aren’t seven month olds supposed to sleep through the night?), we can’t escape “Father Time” and the fact that our biological clocks are rapidly ticking. (And by biological clocks, I mean fading eyesight, sore backs, and a general malaise or tiredness all the time.) Sure 50 is supposed to be the new 40, but who says 40 is so youthful (especially since many of our newer friends have not crossed that milestone yet)? These days, I often fall asleep to the comedic sounds of Jon Stewart (because Larry King retired) and weekend “date nights” never last much beyond 10:00 pm. (Do you know what a Saturday night babysitter charges?)
As I added the party to our wall calendar (can we track that stuff on our smart-phones?), I decided that I am not ready to start acting my age and instead would try to return to the “wild and crazy” days of my youth (or, at least, my late 30s). Sure I was able to land a trophy bride (16 months my junior), but fear she now believes she was defrauded. At some point, that fun-loving, up-for-anything, life-of-the-party she dated (yes, I’m describing myself) has become kind of a fuddy-duddy worrier who watches PBS (and Nickelodeon) and reminisces about the olden days. I looked through a few old Polaroids to remember those times when I was carefree, fearless, and spontaneous (OK, I was never any of those things), and could drink more than one cocktail without being totally out of commission the next day. While few parents with a baby under one have midlife crises, few parents with a baby under one are pushing 50 (but not for over a year-and-a-half). I welcomed the challenge to find my inner-youth and…“No time like the present.”
As luck would have it, we were set to attend a 50th birthday celebration that very night so I could test my newfound “wild hair” attitude. The evening started at a trendy Mexican restaurant where Barb and I threw all caution to the wind and split an extremely potent margarita (no salt, of course, due to blood pressure concerns); then I popped a Pepcid in anticipation of the heartburn that always accompanies spicy enchiladas. (I passed on the Tres Leches because I didn’t want to overdo it on day one.) The evening continued at a hip new downtown piano bar that saw its average patron age double when our party arrived. Once I was able to catch my breath (I thought bars were now smoke-free?), I was simultaneously amused and embarrassed (proving my age) by the toilet humor of the performers whose crude songs often revolved around such topics as female body parts and flatulence. Young hotties were busy shaking their privates onstage and some members of our posse even joined in (forcing the dueling pianists to take a much-needed break).
Barb and I settled on the less risqué approach and stood arm-in-arm in the corner, belting out a lively rendition of Piano Man. (This was the romantic she married.) After several minutes of touchy feely, lovie dovie PDA (not personal digital assistant), I excused myself to take that ceremonious lap around to check out the sites and sounds of the bar. (I told Barb I was going to the little boys’ room.) Suddenly the memories of my wild bar hopping days were back and I even grabbed a Corona with a lime for the journey. (I paid for that one the next day.) Finally I spotted what I was looking for…the object of my desires. There, in the back of the room, I came across the most beautiful site in the bar (besides my wife). Yes, this place had a big screen HD TV mounted on the wall so I was able to catch the fourth quarter of the Houston Rockets’ basketball game. (Not a bad way to spend a bathroom break.) It was as if I had never grown up.
To the Slopes
Weeks later, we found ourselves in Park City, Utah where I planned to recapture the athletic days of my youth that I thought had ended nearly two decades before. While I never had real Olympic aspirations, I could execute a near perfect wedge along a catwalk like nobody’s business during my more competitive days and was certain I would be able to pick things up right where I left off. (I would say, “it’s like riding a bike,” but I was never really a strong biker.) Now, Barb is an excellent intermediate skier, but this trip would be her first opportunity to watch and learn from the master himself who was coming out of retirement. (That’s me, by the way.) She had no idea about the athlete that she married. After being measured for skis, boots, poles, and a helmet (safety first these days), I embarked for a half-day on the magic carpet (which astounded the instructor who informed me that his students usually require a full day on this bunny slope).
By day two, I was the envy of the beginners’ mountain, able to pass young kids with no poles like they were standing still. (I later learned many of them were standing still.) Barb had trouble keeping up with me at times as I advanced from basic greens to intermediate greens by day three (though occasionally she felt the need to ease over to the black moguls to rest a bit). I was even able to ski with my four year old by the end of the trip, though she had to keep reminding me to switch between “pizza pie” and “French fry” as I traversed the mountain. Emmy only hopes she inherits my athletic ability (though, at my age, it takes an extra week for my body to recover).
The Hottest Hot Rod
And what midlife crisis would be complete without the purchase of a new set of wheels. We had been a boring two Lexus sedan family for years and wanted a model that would turn some heads and force people to question our ages (and maturity levels). Many old fogies (you know who you are) gravitate to slick-looking, speedsters like Porsches, Corvettes, or even Mustang convertibles, while others take that “I don’t give a damn” attitude and go for the gas-guzzling Hummer. We went an entirely different direction altogether and welcomed the vehicle that has youth written all over it (right down to the sippy cup holders in the back row). Yes, we are now a minivan family.
The new and improved 2011 Honda Odyssey clearly defines who I am and what I have become. It may very well be the coolest car ever made (eclipsing that chick magnet Mercury Monarch I drove in college) with its automatic sliding back doors and trunk and built-in DVD player (that only my daughter knows how to operate). It comes with a refrigerated compartment to keep my favorite liquid refreshment chilled (are bottled waters allowed in cars under the open-container laws?), XM radio (which still gets my local sports talk), and more cup holders than anyone could ever use. We almost opted for a silver pinstripe, but Barb thought that may be overdoing it just a tad. I can’t help but notice more than a few glances my way while waiting in the carpool line and have received many a compliment from the nursery school teachers who admire the car’s numerous safety features. (Here’s a quick shout out to Nick Childs at McDavid Honda who held our hands through the painful car buying ordeal and would love to help you if you are in the market…and possibly give us a referral fee in the process.)
I am a mere three months into my life-altering experiment and the results speak for themselves. Some middle-agers appear to be trying too hard when they “challenge” Father Time and often look silly in the process. Somehow, I have been able to pull this one off so far (and two kids under five help keep me young as well). My wife seems pleased with the new me and even says I was born to drive a minivan. (I relish the compliment.) Skydiving anyone? (No way!)