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,
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.
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.
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