Midlife Crisis*

Bless me, reader, for I have sinned.  It’s time for my confessional.

I am having a midlife crisis – a bad one.

I am horrified to admit that I have developed a wandering eye, imagining the possibilities of what fun I could have with that younger one over there versus this older one over here.

I am riddled with thoughts of the feel beneath my fingers of something soft and supple, not worn and faded with age.  Fantasizing of feeling the egotistical pride of being stared at by other jealous men wondering how a man like me managed to score something so beautiful.

This fantasy has overwhelmed me for several weeks now, and the urge is becoming so strong, I can barely think of anything else.

But then … I am reminded of my loyal partner of so many years.  Always there for me with undying devotion.

Steadfast.

Unbreakable.

Only 292,456 miles.

Yeah, it’s my old truck I’m talking about replacing.  A really good truck.

It’s a 2003 Chevy Silverado, my faithful companion for more than a decade.  It has transported my freshman son and 6th grade daughter to every first day of school they have had – ever.

It has moved me and everything I own 5 times without complaint.  It has also moved everything owned by more than a few others – I did enough complaining for the two of us on those occasions.

It got me to the hospital for carpal tunnel surgery, bicycle wrecks, cuts, scrapes and an emergency appendectomy.

It has taken me to weddings, funerals and newborn nurseries.

It even got me married as a loaner for a weekend move to my then friend, later girlfriend and now wife.

Every day without fail, it puts in a solid 44-mile round-trip commute.

The check engine light has been glowing since around mile 240,000 without even a hint of giving in.

All that, and this sorry excuse for a man has been gazing dreamily at newer and shinier trucks passing by. I’ve been rubbernecking at the new car lots dreaming of what might be:  Driving in the posh comfort of a glimmering new truck with all the latest bells and whistles.

I am torn among remorse, guilt and excitement all at once.

I keep thinking my Chevy might make it easy on me and have a catastrophic breakdown someday, giving me an excuse to upgrade, but no such luck.  It makes the Energizer Bunny seem lethargic.

It’s like the Casey Kasem of motor vehicles.  You kind of think its aging but at the same time, it might just be an alien from outer space with the secret to immortality.  I’m sure my fellow Generation X’ers were as devastated as I was when Casey finally passed, eliminating widespread doubt as to his mortality and leaving a void in the voice-acting work that made us all love and adore the unusually munchie-afflicted Shaggy and his faithful sidekick Scooby Doo.

You would think, given our history, I would be more faithful to a companion of so many years.  But my eye continues to wander.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I have been a pretty faithful partner in this relationship, the last few weeks notwithstanding.

I never missed an oil change.  Not one.  I was never late, never an omission, an error or miscalculation.  The rims have never run a bald tire, and the brakes have been promptly changed when required.  I have even kept the running-light bulbs replaced as needed, which means I have gone through about ten thousand of those amazingly short-lived suckers.  I suspect somebody at GM has an interest in the manufacture of extra bulbs for running lights, and that somebody got rich on those of us who tried to keep those things glowing.

But that is really my only complaint:  A 99-cent bulb that had to be replaced too frequently.   I’m tellin’ ya’, it’s been a really good truck.

When I drove that shining beauty off the lot over a decade ago, I had a goal to reach 150,000 miles, but when I did, suddenly 200,000 seemed attainable.  Then 250.  Then 300.  Now I am almost even there and faced with the harsh reality that something I have loved so dearly for so long may truly be approaching its sunset.

Yet instead of celebrating our lives together in its golden years, my thoughts are clouded with things like trade-in value and financing options.  I even went so far as to get pre-approved for 60 days through my bank, knowing I will never hit 300,000 miles before then.  I must truly be a terrible person.

But these new trucks on the road are so… shiny.

Oh, go ahead and cast your stones, dear reader.  I know I am deserving of your scorn.

I have fully disclosed my midlife crisis to my wife.  I just knew she would be devastated since my dear old Chevy is practically responsible for our relationship.  But instead of expressing sorrow, she offered her sympathy for my plight.

“If you have to have a midlife crisis, I guess I’m glad it’s over a truck.”  A new light dawned in her eye.  “But have you ridden in one of those new convertibles with the heated seats?”

Be careful, folks.  This midlife crisis business must be contagious.

If you enjoyed this column and would like to see more, click here.

© Michael L. Collins

*Originally appeared in the August 24, 2016 edition of The Mountain Press under the title Confessions of a covetous man.

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