Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Le Freak. C'est Chic.

I guess the thing about the mid-life crisis as a concept is that it presupposes you know how long you’re going to live. Having exactly that style of crisis right here, right now at 26 means that in addition to feeling The Dread every day upon waking up, some part of my brain is assuming I’m only going to last until 52. Which is, you know, extra uplifting to someone who can’t get out of bed without whimpering. I have taken to pleading with my alarm clock like it’s Judge Judy. Every morning it responds about as rigidly. Do not lend money, even to your family, without a contract; I have to get out of bed and go to work: these are incontrovertible judgments.

I think it started with the T.T.F.O. I don’t think this syndrome afflicts just me. Anyone who works in an office, gets in at nine and leaves at five has got to feel a tickle at the base of their neck in the stretch between lunch and release. That’s the three-thirty freak out. You have no choice but to hide in the bathroom and read for a few minutes, or make another pot of coffee against the wishes of your office manager, or stare at your cube wall and kind of pet your own head for a while, or else buy candy and sort it according to color and crush the pieces viciously between your teeth one by one.

The T.T.F.O feels natural. It aligns with when I was dismissed from school for the first 18 years of my life, so when some kind of reptilian brain flight alert sounds around that time it makes sense. But gradually my T.T.F.O. has bled from its usual boundaries and into a 2:30 freak out, and also a 10:30 freak out, and a number of other freak outs that would require entirely new acronyms. Like the A.D.F.O., or the all day freak out. And the E.C.E.M.B.R.—the everything can eat my butt reaction. This is the point at which I’m supposed to buy a Porsche, except I’m not 55, bald, rich, a guy, and unable to sleep with women who are…actually, my age. This is why this is all very uncomfortable.

The two scoops of raisins in the bran flakes of my problem is, I mean, what do you do? You can’t jump out of the job plane and into a recession with a parachute made from a weird diploma and no savings, a smart mouth and a hand tattoo, and very average Excel skills.

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