I think once or twice, as Penny and I were going through our divorce, the idea was gently suggested that perhaps our break-up was the result of a mid-life crisis. Those of you who have read a decent-sized chunk of this blog will know that nothing could be farther from the truth. The question was not, ultimately, why the marriage finally fell apart so much as how had I managed to stay in it for so long.
I even bumped into another old friend this very day and, once more, had to catch him up on the goings-on of this past few years. While we didn’t touch too much upon the foreclosure and all of the financial woes that led up to it, the divorce and how it required me to pull back from my former activities did. And I found myself saying all the same things over again: no, nobody did anybody wrong, nobody cheated, we remain committed co-parents, we have true fifty-fifty custody, but the marriage was broken and could never be fixed, etc., etc.
Naturally, I did not go into what I meant by the marriage being broken. (And if you’re new to the blog, and if you’re curious, I’d suggest you start by just reading the first dozen or so entries of this blog to see how we reached the end of our marriage.)
But that said, even though having a mid-life crisis didn’t contribute to the end of my marriage, the end of my marriage didn’t necessarily prevent the onset of having a mid-life crisis.
What the intercourse do I want to do with my life?
What did I do to get here?
What do I have left in me?
What do I want to be/do now that I’m here?
And a couple of years ago while the divorce was underway, and my financial house of cards had to be rebuilt, and my dear friend Gabe was dying of cancer, and just before I tore my ACL and needed surgery to rebuild it… my mini-van pitched a fit.
I don’t recall if I blogged about that here; I suppose I probably did in one of my “my life is a country song” posts. But what happened in a nutshell was this: the electrical system went haywire one morning while I was driving to work. It was a hot, sunny day. The A/C wouldn’t come on, but suddenly the windshield wipers did. The power locks began locking and unlocking and locking and unlocking. The engine hitched and jerked and began losing horses at an alarming rate. I barely managed to pull off the highway and get to a gas station that was immediately next to the off-ramp.
Taking the key out of the ignition didn’t stop the electrical shenanigans. The wipers kept wiping. The locks kept locking. It was a struggle for me to finally get the front door open. Yes, my friends, I was locked *inside* my car. But I got out, called the nearest shop I trusted, and they arranged towing, etc.
The point is, as with my knee soon thereafter, the minivan gave me reason to stop trusting it. So, I stopped. And once other matters were brought under control, I gently began a slow, methodical search for the vehicle that would eventually replace it.
I looked at other minivans. But, well… I’m not a minivan guy any longer (to the extent that I was), and there’s only one model of minivan made any longer that is available in AWD. I test drove it, and I didn’t really like it.
I looked at the Ford Flex… a practical family car with AWD and a goofy, boxy, retro look. Having four-wheel or all-wheel drive is a must for me. And goofy, boxy, retro looks actually kinda appeal to me. My first car was a goofy, boxy, mid-sixties thang. The Ford Flex evokes that era’s station wagons. I was okay with that.
Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that I would like a convertible. But convertibles, in general, are not terribly practical or kid-friendly. Then there’s the problem of what conventional convertibles tend to say about their owners. You know… like how the Miata (excellent vehicle though it is) screams out, “Hi! I’m gay!”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I don’t want my car telling lies about me to the lady-folk out there, okay?
Or the BMW Z3, which screams out, “Hi! I’m a rectal cavity!”
Or the Porsche 911, which screams out, “Hi! I’m compensating for something!”
(Please accept my apologies if you, gentle reader, drive such a vehicle. I’m not talking about you, whatsoever. Rather, I’m just saying that these are the lies your car is spreading about you.)
I have no recollection of how the idea first entered my brain, but somewhere along the line it occurred to me… wait a minute! Aren’t Jeeps convertibles?
The Jeep Wrangler is.
And aren’t they AWD?
In fact, they are 4WD, which is even better.
And aren’t they awesome in snow?
That’s the rumor.
And don’t they have room for my kids? And groceries, too?
The 4-door version has plenty of room for both.
And… But… would they be fun to drive?
Well, to find out, a test drive would be necessary.
So while I’ve been quietly looking at vehicles for over half a year now (I started my test driving research during a snow storm last winter and discovered that the Ford Flex is well up to the task of handling nasty weather), the pieces started to fall into place when I test drove the Jeep Wrangler. With the top up. With the top down. On the highway. On the back roads. Yeah. Yeahhh. That was the vehicle I was looking for.
A week after the first test drive, I bought one.
I still have the mini-van. It’s trade-in value was roughly minus-$1,000, but it still runs, and it still has a little bit of life left in it. I have plans for it, and I’m hoping that I can prolong its life some while I begin using the Jeep as my primary vehicle. But… yeah. The Jeep.
Ahhh, the Jeep. Driving around with the top down on a sunny day just can’t be beat.
Thus my mid-life crisis kicks into gear.
Next, I suppose, there’s the matter of finding a girlfriend who is ten years younger than I am.