Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Never Ask What's Wrong, Or Why Two Mid-Life Crises Are Worse Than One.

Never marry a man the same age as you. I'm not recommending sugar daddies or toy-boys, but I do think an age gap of more than a year is highly-advisable. At least then you could stagger the misery wrought by significant birthdays.

Max has a face like a wet weekend when he comes in from work tonight.

"What's the matter?" I say. "You look terrible."

"I'm fine," he says. In the flattest, most depressed tone imaginable. It's like listening to Marvin the Paranoid Android.

"Well, you don't sound it," I say. "What's up?"

"Nothing," he says, then sighs. Several times. You wouldn't think you could make so much noise just by breathing out.

He doesn't become any chattier after we've eaten, and the monosyllabic replies go on for most of the evening. By News At Ten, I'm pretty fed up with the whole thing, and a bit anxious, too. I've got that horrible feeling in my bowels that I always get when he gives me the silent treatment. I think it's a sense of impending doom.

Max waits for the headlines, and then starts flicking through the TV channels. He works through the whole lot, then sighs again - even louder - before passing the remote to me.

"Nothing on," he says, as if it is the end of the world.

"Max, what is the matter?" I say. "You sound awful."

"I'm just a bit fed up."

He says the words so slowly that it feels as if half an hour passes between each one. I've bitten my lip to pieces by the time he's finished the whole sentence. And I'm knackered, but bed in not an option. Not at the moment, anyway.

Nan always told me never to go to bed on an argument. I know that, technically, Max and I aren't actually arguing, but I'm pretty sure that staying up to identify the cause of dramatic sighing was also recommended. Or would have been, if Nan had ever witnessed it.

I brace myself and enter the fray.

"Fed up about what?" I say.

"Everything," says Max.

Well, that's all right then, isn't it? Every single bloody thing. Which probably translates as "you." I am starting to feel a bit sick, and I'm not at all sure that I want to know any more but, as usual, I can't help myself. I ask the next question, right on cue:

"Like what?"

"Everything. When I look at my life, I wonder what's the bloody point - I never do anything, or go anywhere. Everyone else has a social life and goes travelling, and I don't."

Oh, God. So that's it. The mention of travel is the giveaway, isn't it? Bloody Bambi spent hours going on about her forthcoming Australian trip while we were at the Christmas dinner. Max was advising her on the best places to visit on the basis of the year he spent there a lifetime ago.

"Well, you did all that stuff when you were in your twenties," I say. "And whenever I suggest we go out somewhere, you never want to bother. You prefer to stay in watching TV."

"Well, now I don't," he says. "I should be having some fun at my age. And I'm not."

"Do you think you're having a mid-life crisis?" I say.

Hopefully, he'll deny it, and pull himself together. Then he'll laugh at the idea - and everything will be normal again. Thank God.

Max looks down at his hands, and starts turning his wedding ring around on his finger.

"Maybe I am," he says. As if that's all there is to say.

I hope it is, as I certainly don't want to ask any more questions. I have a horrible feeling I won't like the answers and, anyway, I think I might need to be sick.

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