(Pause Magazine, fall/winter 2008, Tim Dorsey)
Sure, men hear all the time about the trials of menopause. But when it comes to daily life out there where the rubber meets the road, you gals seem to be handling it with what Hemingway called “grace under pressure.” I don’t even notice women having hot flashes. But then again I live in Florida, where everyone sweats all the time.
From my vantage, whatever is happening with you is drowned out by all the strutting embarassments of my gender. The ranks of my friends are full of midlife-crisis freaks with the convertible Corvette, the sports coat over a black t-shirt and the barely legal girlfriend. Oh yeah, and the prescription for Viagra. That’s the mistake my aging counterparts make. What’s supposed to camouflage shortcomings only calls neon-arrow attention to them. Like my favorite: the fatter, balder, and uglier a guy is, the greater the odds that he’ll be wearing a diamond-stud earring. Don’t forget the gray ponytail while you’re at it! News flash: In our attempts to be as hot as Jude Law, we only raise the bar on the creep factor.
I’m hard on my own gender because I’m uncomfortable with how much I recognize in myself-such as an appreciation for excellence in wardrobe, mind, and especially body. Lately, I’ve turned to watching workout videos for six-pack abs while drinking a six-pack. Curiously, this doesn’t work, so I decided to completely rededicate myself to health by purchasing the state-of-the-art, graphite-and-magnesium 12-in-1 max-flex isokinetic home gym system, which now sits as a piece of modern art and gives me a total workout each time I dust it.
Next came the diet. But here’s the thing I found out about diets: You can’t just eat anything. So I got a bigger car. I picked up a Cadillac DeVille. My accountant said he was impressed with my purchase, unlike our golf buddy Paul, who got the overpriced T-bird. I said, “What do you mean?” He said the DeVille is more of a mature person’s car. I said, “But I bought it because Cadillace ads have the Led Zeppelin song.”
Certain jobs make the whole business of aging much tougher. Models and athletes have it the worst. As a novelist, I have to admit I have it pretty good. When I look up at my bookshelf of favorite classic American novels, I realize that most of the writers I admire are, well, dead. So 46 is a spring chicken. And everyone should be so lucky to experience book-signing audiences. “You look so young to have so many books out,” I couldn’t have felt more full of vinegar at one event last month when a group of extremely athletic firefighters made me an honorary member of their brigade, presenting me with a special black T-shirt displaying their emblem on the back.
I just tried it on in the mirrior, and I don’t mind saying I’m not too shabby in black. now. . . let’s see how it looks with a sports coat.
(Tim Dorsey is a former reporter for the Tampa Tribune and the author of nine humorous crime novels, including Florida Roadkill (1999) and his most recent, Hurricane Punch (2007). He lives in Tampa with his wife and two children.)