08 October, 2008
My Future Midlife Crisis
I know this is a little premature, in view of the fact that 1. I am only 23 and 2. I am generally surrounded by enough crises so as to have no need for a "personal" one. But my darling Thelma was in town this weekend prior to her departure to Thailand, and one night as we were visiting Carl and Andrew, she told us that she and a friend had already planned their respective midlife crises.
Thelma's involved bursting into tears at a grocery store when she realizes her suburban housewife existence is nothing like she planned and then running off into the forests of Burma.
Mike's involves verbally abusing a pretentious colleague at his dead-end job as a meaningless consultant of some sort, and then running off into the jungles of Burma.
I have been thinking ever since, what would be my midlife crisis? And would it, as current trends suggest, end with my running off into the jungles of Burma?
Of course, any good midlife crisis must begin with a tirade of some sort. What in the world could I write a tirade about?
Elisa thought. She thought and she thought and she thought. (lightbulb)
That's it! That's my midlife crisis!
I am 40 years old, and still unmarried. I went to law school and library school in a fruitless attempt to find personal meaning through education, but instead found myself in gobs of debt, with no good job offers to alleviate it, and little else to show for my years of training. Thus, I am forced to work in the basement of a newspaper in American Fork as a copy editor, per my undergraduate training decades before.
One day, I walk into my cubicle and find all my papers and books out of order. The papers have clearly been messed with, and my books are out of order. Since my workspace is so small, I normally make it my personal priority to make my desk as organized as humanly possible. The girl in the cubicle next to me does not meet my eye. She is fresh out of college, bleached blond, and spends most of her workday video conferencing her girlfriends or making playlists on her iPod*. She is only working at the newspaper to save money for her upcoming wedding.
I ask Tiffanee, "Did you, by any chance, need something from my desk?"
"What?" She removes her ear buds and I repeat the question.
"Oh, shyeah, I needed, like, the Sensitivity Style Guide 'cause I'm editing this little feature on gypsies, you know those people in South America that live such gross sad lives? Such a downer. I couldn't remember how to spell gypsy. No J! I know, right? Anyways, I couldn't find it, so no biggie. Oh! And I was wondering since you're like a lawyer and stuff if you could help me write, like, my prenuptial agreement, 'cause you know I'm getting married in a few months and I just wanna be sure, like, just in case, 'cause, like, we've only known each other a few months and whatever."
I am astonished, not only by the idiocy of her word choice and her egregious usage errors, but also by her subject matter. Before I can fully conceive the consequences of my actions, I grab her by her blond-with-red-and-black highlights and start my tirade:
YOU COMPLETE IGNORAMUS! YOU ABSOLUTE IDIOT! YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GYPSIES! THEY ARE NOT FROM SOUTH AMERICA! NEITHER ARE THEY DIRTY! HOW IN THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING DID YOU MANAGE TO TRICK BYU INTO GIVING YOU A COLLEGE DEGREE!?! HAVE YOU EVER FORMULATED A SENTENCE IN THAT OXYGEN-DEPRIVED BRAIN OF YOURS THAT DOESN'T CONTAIN SOME SORT OF HEDGE?! AND IF YOU DON'T KNOW YOUR FIANCE WELL ENOUGH YET, THEN WHY ARE YOU MARRYING HIM?????????????????????????
She looks at my stunned for a few minutes, then starts whimpering. Then, of course, our supervisor walks in. I am fired and arrested. Tiffanee is awarded a minor sum in damages, but enough to ruin me financially. Also, the restraining order necessitates some sort of move since I can no longer live in the state of Utah. I file for bankruptcy, change my name, get a credit card and move back to Hungary. There, I live amongst the Gypsies and run various literacy/advocacy programs, becoming sort of a local honky hero. When I die, all the Gypsies in Hungary wear black, and make my birthday a recognized day of mourning.
Ha. That was cathartic.
*Or whatever portable music player they use 17 years from now.