Mea culpa. I want to apologize to all the middle-aged people whom I mocked, behind their backs, for what they did during their midlife crisis. I rolled my eyes at the $60,000 kitchen renovation with a Sub Zero refrigerator and an integrated wine storage system. I snickered at the $45,000 red Cadillac sedan with French leather seats and a Bose sound system. I said “She should have had a brain implant instead of a boob job” in reference to a less than stellar co-worker who got a big cup.
I take it all back. Somewhere out there someone I know is “tsk-tsking” me for having top surgery. It is payback. What I am doing fits the profile of a midlife crisis as much as taking skydiving lessons or buying a Harley-Davidson.
Midlife can hit you hard. Particularly when you are set in your ways. Same job. Same partner. Same apartment. Same therapist. Same non-conforming butch gender stuff. And then boom, you look up and you are in uh-oh land. The land of possibilities that you did not let yourself think about every time you pulled on your Levi 501’s, buttoned your L.L. Bean flannel shirt, and laced up your Timberland boots.
It isn’t exactly like I woke up one day and suddenly realized that I was an overweight and out of shape middle-aged butch lesbian with a stack of plaid flannel shirts and a pile of construction boots. But, after I corrected my therapist and told her “I’m not a girl”, I started the long process of figuring out exactly what that sentence meant. While I was thinking, I started going to Weight Watchers, ramping up my gym work outs, and binding my chest.
Those activities are at the top of the list of warning signs of a midlife crisis. Men try to lose weight, get in shape, and take up extreme sports. Women go to plastic surgeons (Botox, liposuction, or breast enhancements). I chose from both Column A and Column B.
Maybe it is just the guys I know, but it seems like midlife crisis hits men harder and they spend more dealing with it. Besides the “best fucking Cadillac ever” I’ve watched guys buy Crestliner fishing boats, 60-inch Samsung plasma TVs, and Rolex watches. They went for bling, so everyone else could see how cool they were. Another warning sign.
They don’t want to be bald guys with beer guts any more than I do. They want to live the good life. Even while they take out second mortgages and pension loans to do it. They want to feel good about themselves. I understand it.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be getting top surgery, I would have told you no, I’m going to stay natural. I’ve worked everything out, I’m fine. I’m OK being butch. I’ve made my peace with it. When I was a kid I wanted to be a boy, and I fought hard to get to where I am, and it is OK. I do what I want, I wear what I want, I’ve got a dog and a partner, I’m OK. I’m OK.
Midlife crisis kicks in when OK is no longer enough. When you can’t do the same thing over and over anymore. Somehow, in the process of repetition, it stops making sense. I was lucky. I didn’t quit my job, I didn’t leave Donna, I didn’t go to an ashram in India, I didn’t buy a convertible.
I came out again. I changed my name. I lost weight. I got back in shape. I am not starting over but I am learning to be more flexible and less judgmental. And if anyone wants to make fun of me for having top surgery, then so be it. I’ll be out shopping for new shirts.
Notes: Surgery is still scheduled for next Monday (12/8). I’ll probably take at least a week off from blogging while I recover and I’m not expecting to post any “transbucket” worthy photos. You can read about chimps with midlife crises here, and an interesting article from the Atlantic on The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis here.