So this guy says to the doctor, "I'm 45 years old. I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I don't fool around with women. Is there any reason I shouldn't live another 45 years?"

And the doctor says, "No reason you shouldn't, but why would you want to?"

Something like this keeps bouncing off the inside of my head these days, and not just because it's a cherished Old Joke, the sort of cartoon that Dave Berg would draw about Roger Kaputnik. Around this age, it is fairly common to come to grips with one's mortality or at least to complain bitterly about it. Supposedly, this is what drives women to plastic surgeons and men to Jaguar dealerships.

Being both somewhat analytical and somewhat of a smartass, I would assume that if I were having a mid-life crisis at this point, it would indicate that I must be at the midpoint of my existence as many years to come as I have already seen. It would probably not occur to me, were I dropping dead at 54, that it couldn't really have been a mid-life crisis, since I wasn't twenty-seven at the time. And I can remember times when fifty-four seemed very, very old to me.

Still, there are moments when I'm not sure I'm even going to make it to 54. And whether this qualifies as crisis or just kvetching, it may not matter a whole lot in the long run. There may not be any reason I shouldn't live to be 90. (Well, 91, technically.) But for now, I'm waiting for some compelling reason to want to.

The Vent

1 December 1999

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 Copyright © 1999 by Charles G. Hill