My midlife crisis ended last night, thank god. The only problem is, I’m just not sure what comes next.
How do I know it’s over? Did I decide that, yes, I really do sound just like my mother and it’s OK? Did I get rid of my trophy spouse? Did I decide that, really, combined sky diving/mountain climbing/yoga is just not for me?
Not exactly. My husband John and I sold the symbol of my crisis: my 2004 Mini Cooper S. It was medium blue with white racing stripes on the bonnet, a kick-ass six-speed manual transmission and a delightful engine of some sort that let me go from 0 to 60 as fast as I damn well pleased.
In my Mini, I drove like a demon; I knew it would never get me into an accident, because it would just slip out of the most treacherous predicaments. Actually, I knew that I’d never get in an accident because other drivers were unfailingly nice to me, as if I were their favorite niece, and they were just letting me go off to have some fun. Everybody smiles at Mini drivers.
In fact, when I first got it, I didn’t even know I was having a midlife crisis. Imagine that! I thought I’d bought it because it was fun AND because my building’s parking lot is a pain. I joked about the lot one day to John, who then test drove a Mini with our son Jacob, the next day. They ordered me to get one. I really had no choice.
So imagine my surprise more than a year later when I picked up that copy of Vanity Fair at the hairdresser’s. That’s how I learned that my baby, my Mini meant that I was, well, reaching a new stage in life. You see, it is one of three cars chosen by women having a midlife crisis! Actually, I felt gypped. The article told me that the other cars were the Mercedes SLK500 convertible 2 passenger roadster and the Audi TT convertible.
Damn, I thought, those cars are 4 and 3 times the price of the Mini. My midlife crisis was a bloomin’ bargain. I felt like a floosy.
Still, it served its purpose — it gave everybody in town a chance to laugh at me. Me, I didn’t need a trophy wife, a Porsche, or a big stinky cigar to prove I’d lost it. To prove that there was a reason to laugh at me.
I blame the car. I blame my dog, Cooper, because he hates to be left behind at home. I blame that handsome guy. Me, I was innocent.
It happened one day when Cooper and I stopped by Safeway. As he had a million times before, Cooper waited impatiently in the car, breathless for my return.
“Hewwo, Misterrrrr Cooooooper,” I said to Cooper when I got back with my groceries. Naturally since I’d been gone for 10 minutes, I had to speak to him in my baby-talkin’-est way. “Mommy’s back, Sweetheart. Was Cooper a good boy while Mommy was gone?”
The handsome middle-aged man standing at the car next to mine looked panicky. He was gawking at me, clearly scared. His mouth opened and closed like Charlie McCarthy on quaaludes, and he was breathing faster and faster; he was hyperventilating and clearly thinking:
“I am standing next to a woman who is talking baby talk to her car.
She is crazy.”
Of course, I realized almost immediately why he thought so.
“Oh, no,” I said, laughing. “I was talking to my dog. His name is ‘Cooper.’” Charlie McCarthy closed his mouth, got into his Porche and drove off, laughing. But I’m pretty sure he wasn’t laughing with me.
I was half way home, still wiping tears out of my eyes, before I realized that I’d owned the car for four years. And that Cooper and I had been going all around town together in the Mini Cooper the whole time. The whole town now thinks I’m nuts, I realized with an accepting sigh.
So, really, I embarrassed myself every bit as much with my Mini and with my Cooper as any man with his trophy wife could have.
And so, while I’m sad to see the Mini go, I’m ok with ending the midlife crisis bit. But I’m just not quite sure what comes next. Well, after the trophy husband, that is.