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  Michael Irwin suddenly realized that he wasn't satisfied with the consistency of his life. It ranged somewhere between that of oatmeal, and crisp white sheets newly out of the dryer, on a freshly made bed. When asked about his life, Michael Irwin would use tentative, innocuous words such as ‘Fine,’ ‘OK,’ and ‘Good’ to describe it, or if he were feeling particularly fortunate, he might even utter the phrase: ‘Can't complain.’

But the most daunting aspect of Michael Irwin's life was not the texture, particularly, but rather that the texture had remained consistent for more than ten years. A new car, a new job, a trip to Hawaii, these were all different flavors, toppings, but they couldn’t disguise the fact that at the end of the day it was still Michael Irwin underneath. His condominium, his investment portfolio, his retirement plan, the annual exam when the doctor would slap on the powdery latex glove—the most intimate five minutes of Michael Irwin's year—the trips to the dentist every six months. All of these things insured a constant, painless consistency.

A haircut every two weeks: ‘High and tight please.’ Finger and toe nails trimmed every Sunday evening, brushing and flossing twice a day, a shave every morning, sitting on the toilet after the morning cup of coffee, drinking eight glasses of water a day, checking and double-checking his diet against the government suggested Nutritional Pyramid, blinking, breathing, heartbeat.

‘Can’t complain.’

Although Michael Irwin would never admit it, there was a certain relief he had felt after his parents had both finally passed away. Naturally there was a grieving period first; he had looked up the five stages of grief on the Internet to ensure that he was doing it properly and on schedule. Undoubtedly he had loved them, with good cause, as they had given him a supportive and nurturing upbringing. But there was a certain accountability to them which he had always felt infringed, in some unspoken, guilt-laden manner…in the end it really hadn't made that much of a difference in his life. After all, he was a model son—no, a model citizen.

So Michael Irwin was more than shocked to discover that he appeared, at the tender age of thirty-two, to be having a mid-life crisis. It was not, in the sphere of human self-consciousness, a significant age. Decades, being the arbitrary, metric measurement of age, were typically regarded by society as monumental. Forty he might understand, fifty most definitely. But thirty-two? Curious.

Also atypical was his reaction to the seemingly minor crisis. He did not go out and buy a fast car, (as he already owned, and had always owned, a fast car,) nor did he cheat on his wife with a vacuous, young blond. The consummate bachelor, Michael Irwin had always made it a point to date young, attractive women—between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-nine, and preferably not sporting unaltered hair color or skin pigment. And professional. Not in the sexual sense, but rather in the career sense. Well-educated, well-connected, well compensated. Like himself. A professional.

No, typically a mid-life crisis would signify some sort of sudden realization by a person that they had, in fact, no control over their life. So Michael Irwin was a bit perplexed that he himself, having complete control over every small detail in his life, down to the color of his matching pot holders, and the brand of imported candles that graced all the right spots in his apartment, seemed to be having a mid-life crisis. He had considered studying up on the subject, but that in and of itself would be an acknowledgement that he had lost control of this tint that was overshadowing his life.

However he couldn't escape the fact that his life hadn't really changed since his second year of college. Major decided (Business, of course,) degree collected, his second job interview nailed, promotions and raises well deserved and periodically given. Everything he wanted to own and wanted to do, he had bought and had done, thus far, efficiently and successfully. But experiences seemed to have ceased being "new" around the age of twenty or so…now they were more just variances on the same theme. Toppings.

‘Can’t complain.’

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