The middle-aged man exited Edgewater Park in his car, making sure everyone noticed, taking each turn extra slow, as if he were on some kind of mission.
From the bright green paint job on his car, which was a sports car from the 1990s, to the way he wore his dark sunglasses and ran his fingers through what was left of his hair; it was hard not to glance his way.
But what really made him stand out was the dub step coming loudly from his speakers.
Let me first say that I have nothing against dubstep – it just isn’t what I would expect to see a 45-year-old man jamming out to in a public park, while doing what appeared to be cruising for chicks.
Remember Eminem’s line?
“Nobody listens to techno,” he once rapped.
Well he was wrong, because right now there is a man driving around Cleveland, listening to a form of techno like it’s nobody’s business.
It was an obvious mid-life crisis in the works. I can spot one when I see one.
The midlife crisis can take on many forms – driving recklessly in a minivan listening to Whitesnake, buying a flashy convertible or motorcycle, divorcing one’s spouse and going bankrupt pursuing bleach blondes, or doing a combination of all three while simultaneously beginning to dress like a member of a 1980s hair metal band.
When I see such spectacles I am reminded of my own father’s midlife crisis.
There were multiple phases.
First he began tanning every chance he got.
Then he grew a pony tail.
Next he started wearing a fanny pack.
And one day he got his ear pierced.
It was humorous, a man who had difficulty leaving the 1950s and once flew off the handle because my sister’s dressed me up as a girl for Halloween, actually piercing his ear. To this day I still can’t believe it. One day he just came home with a small stud in his ear.
Maybe I’m wrong, but the pony tail, fanny pack and pierced ear were all tell-tale signs of a midlife crisis.
My father was also one of the few people I knew who may have had two separate midlife crises. After going through some type of beach bum with a pony tail look, he changed gears completely, and in no time he thought he was a cowboy.
Maybe he had been brainwashed by WGAR, having listened to Toby Keith’s “I Should Have Been a Cowboy” one too many times, but one day he suddenly dressed as if our home was on the range.
He had the hat, the boots, the jeans and the duster. To top it off he kept the pony tail for good measure. It was all over-the-top, and he even began eating as if we were all ranchers. For a weeks straight we had to eat something he had concocted for dinner.
To no one’s surprise, he called it, “cowboy beans and rice.”
It was during this time period that I found myself thankful he rarely came to any of my school activities.
But one day he showed up out of the blue at a football game.
People were pointing at him and snickering.
“Who is the cowboy over there,” they laughed. “Hey! Garth Brooks just entered the stadium!”
Then some of my team mates asked me if I knew him.
“Nope,” I said expressionless. “Can you believe that guy?”
I knew he wouldn’t stick around for the game, and there was no possibility of anyone seeing us together, so what would it matter? He never stuck around. Why would this time be different?
But then it happened. He began chanting.
“WY-SO-CHAN-SKI!” clap-clap, clap-clap-clap, “WY-SO-CHAN-SKI!”
I am almost positive I am the only male Wysochanski in the state of Ohio, and I was definitely the only Wysochanski in my high school. Had I been a Jones, Miller, or Smith, I could have passed the name off on someone else.
Just when I thought I would have to explain myself, and why the cowboy near the concession stand was chanting my last name, there was a loud crack of thunder and it started to pour.
No one paid Walker Texas Ranger any mind at this point. When I turned to look again he was gone.
All that was missing was the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.
And that’s how I know a midlife crisis when I see one.