It was a mundane afternoon in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month, in the middle of my life. I was driving around and saw a ’67 powder blue Mustang for sale, in pretty good shape, parked at the curb.
I instantly flashed back to my first car: a ’67 Mustang 3-speed stick. Mine was a used car lot $600 special with a million miles on it, Bondo patches all over the back quarter panels, and U-joints you could hear clunking from miles away. But I loved it.
I was crushed when my Dad abruptly ended negotiations and grabbed me by the arm and walked to the front door. But then he whispered, “Watch.” I’ll never forget seeing the used car lot manager actually jump over his desk to stop us from leaving. I knew the car was mine.
Now, I was totally expecting to have the big midlife crisis that all men go through. I just didn’t know what it would look like. Maybe I would wake up one day, quit my job, and want to spend our meager retirement money on a condo on some remote Caribbean island where we would live out our lives partially dressed, sipping drinks from a pineapple.
Of course the only island we could afford would be underwater during high tide and a vacation retreat for the world’s mosquitos.
Or I could empty out the garage, put sound baffling up on the walls, and start a ’70’s tribute band with a bunch of my buddies. We would drink beer and “jam” our versions of “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl),” or “I Can’t Stop This Feeling,” or when we get really loopy, “Free Bird.”
Except none of my friends really play instruments, and we have that in common.
Or perhaps out of the blue I would get the urge to trade in my lovely wife, who totally gets me, for a younger model. And by model, I mean the leggy super kind that likes to eat gigantic hamburgers close-up in slow motion.
But the realization that I would have to carry on a conversation with someone whose idea of fun is not only staying up past 10:00pm, but actually dressing up and leaving the house to go to some place called “clubbing,” puts the damper on that kind of frolic.
Part of the problem is we are still raising our kids. We started late, so it’s hard to think about getting hair plugs or taking up formation skydiving when I’m freaking out over how my oldest is going to be able to afford to go to college this year.
So it is completely understandable that I missed my moment.
When I came home and told my wife about the Mustang, and that it was about $7,000, she laughed and brushed it off as yet another thing there was no way in hell we could afford. And she went about her business, and I went about mine (because she was right), and quickly forgot about the car.
That is until it showed up on my street several weeks later. A neighbor bought it, and had the audacity to park it right out in front, where I saw it nearly everyday. That Mustang winked at me as I drove by, mocking me with the adventures we could have had together, and connected me to memories of my teenage years long ago. Then, the neighbor moved away. And the whole thing was gone.
I missed it.
My wife and I joke around about it now. I tell her that there is still time for me to have a major midlife crisis. You know, The Big One. I like to tease her every time a leather-clad guy on a motorcycle flies by us, telling her that is exactly what I want to do. I want to join a motorcycle gang and ride a Harley. I could grow a shaggy beard and listen to ZZ Top, and she could be my biker babe.
She just laughs and sometimes even dares me to follow through.
But we both know my crisis has passed. It wasn’t a gigantic, home-shattering, flaming ball of emotional wreckage that resulted in too much Botox, a whole new wardrobe better suited for a tattooed Millennial, or endless paperwork from divorce lawyers. It didn’t leave all our friends shaking their heads and wondering what the hell happened, and how those kids were going to deal with their nut-job dad. Nope.
It was just a used car on the side of the road.
A version of this article originally appeared on boomercafe.com