Issue #175 – “Third-Life Crisis” – September 20th, 2010

-The mid-life crisis is a well-known phenomenon – you turn fifty, buy a motorcycle, and realize you’re closer to death than you are to birth. The quarter-life crisis has been documented more recently – you graduate college, move back in with your parents, and realize you have no marketable skills. (This is also known as being a whiny bitch.) What gets much less exposure is the third-life crisis – when you hit your thirties, start getting invitations to your friends’ baby showers, and realize your job is slowly destroying your soul. In a way, the third-life crisis is most devastating because it occurs when you’re still young enough to do whatever the hell you want, but just old enough that people look down on you for it. After all, a lot is expected of the thirtysomething generation, but many of us seem content to just get really drunk and disappoint everyone.

-Your first few jobs after college don’t really mean shit – you’re trying to figure things out and are just happy to be getting a paycheck. The hard part is when you turn thirty and realize you still haven’t figured anything out yet – and that paycheck barely covers your newly acquired taste for expensive vodka. You know you’re having a third-life crisis when you’re debating between going back to grad school and going back to Popov.

-I think one of the reasons the third-life crisis is a relatively recent phenomenon is that celebrities are getting younger and younger these days. I mean, how old is that Justin Bieber character? Twelve? No wonder thirtysomethings everywhere are freaking out. When I was as young as some of these “celebs,” my parents wouldn’t even let me have a toy Power Wheels, let alone a real Lamborghini.

-Your thirties are when dating goes from a lighthearted, let’s-see-what-happens pastime to a full-fledged, all-consuming quest. The crisis here is that women can’t date guys my age because we’re flight risks who won’t commit, but if they date older men they could end up having children with a guy who’s already had two knee replacements. And just when single women start to believe all hope for meeting a normal guy is lost, they resort to dating web sites – which only confirm their suspicions.

-The third-life crisis is compounded by the fact that our parents’ generation did everything earlier than us. By the time my parents were thirty-one, they had given birth to me and purchased a house. How can I possibly compete with that? I’m thirty-one, rent a one-bedroom, and am terrified of purchasing a new iPod in case a cooler one comes out the next day.

-Ultimately, the third-life crisis may merely be a function of the massive amount of flux that naturally occurs at this age. I just did a quick mental inventory of my buddies and realized that one just had a kid, one is pregnant, and one is trying to be. Two others just got engaged and a third just got married. Two more just got out of five-year, live-in relationships. Another left a high-paying shitty job for a low-paying awesome one, and yet another is working on his second, completely unrelated graduate degree. I, on the other hand, have done exactly none of those things. Does that make me better off or worse? I guess only time will tell. But if your twenties are about finding yourself, then your thirties seem to be about undoing all those poor decisions you made along the way. Maybe that’s not a crisis, though. Maybe that’s just life. Or maybe I’ve just had too much Popov.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-I’m such a cock tease at the ATM because I have two cards – one for my business and one for my personal account. Once I finish a transaction and take my card, I can sense the footsteps of the person behind me in line, followed by a sigh as I insert my second card and continue. Sorry, buddy. I didn’t mean to give you banking blue balls.

-I was hitting on a girl recently who told me how her job takes her around the world, and that she finds travel “exuberating.” As we continued talking, I discreetly tweeted that this wasted chick had just made up a word by combining “exuberant” and “exhilarating.” Only later when I Googled it did I realize it’s actually a real word. Now, granted, given the situation, I’m 100% positive that she stumbled upon it and did not use it on purpose, but nevertheless I feel humbled. I guess the world can learn a lot from slurring drunk chicks.

-I love watching hipsters move – their spindly, flannel-clad arms can barely lift a box.

-I’d rather you respond to none of my emails than one out of every five.

-How come the GPS navigation lady only interrupts during the best parts of the song?

-If you call it a “curriculum vitae” instead of a resume, don’t bother applying.

-Last month, I ran into an old friend in LA whom I hadn’t seen in a while. He informed me that not only had he just gotten engaged, but that he met his fiancee at one of my local stand-up shows. A few weeks before that, I got an email from one of my fans in Boston. At a show I did there last year, he got the phone number of the girl sitting behind him. They just moved in together. Quite frankly, I’m flattered so much “rumidating” is going on. Still, I’m a little concerned that no one is paying attention to me when I’m on stage.

-One of the best parts about writing this column has always been reading emails from my subscribers. Besides those that inform me I somehow played a role in two fans getting married (which, honestly, I’d rather not be responsible for), some of my favorite emails are from people who used to read this when it was merely a forward floating around the Internet in college, and recently discovered I’m still writing. In fact, this issue marks the thirteenth anniversary of Ruminations. Words cannot express how it feels to have received such an incredible amount of love and support from the RumiNATION over the years. So I’m just gonna go with “exuberating.”

-And, finally, sometimes it’s refreshing to get a little dose of your own medicine. A bunch of my buddies from back in New York – including my famously tongue-tied former roommate Brian – were in California last week for a wedding, and we went wine tasting. As I observed the guy at the vineyard prepare a glass for red wine that had previously held white wine by swishing some red around in it and then discarding it, I had an epiphany. “What if,” I said to Brian, “we invented some sort of liquid that could clean the glass without wasting all that wine? It could be huge!” “Karo, that already exists,” he replied, shaking his head smugly. “It’s called water.” Fuck me.