Alamon: Boots and 501s

ONE may call it the reverse of the male jeer. My female friends huddle among themselves, point at their male friends and husbands, and whisper conspiratorially, “midlife crisis.” What follows is a cracking shared laughter that would put a Slers chicharon to shame.

I pity that clueless male friend who has suddenly made that sharp wardrobe change. Conspicuous are the Doc Martens and argyle socks and an increasingly black get up that would have been current and fresh during the Club Dredd days of yore. The only things missing are the spiky hair and eyeliner and the look would have been complete, that is if he could ditch his doble vista glasses. It is doubtful if Brandon Lee of The Crow, bless his soul, would have been able to maintain that dark and brooding aura versus the onslaught of residual fat and white hair if he managed to reach the 40 plus bracket.

There are various manifestations of this uniquely male quirk among the ageing set. The most common trait according to my informal survey is the intensely short fuses of the 40 years old and above. The incendiary nature of these tempers should be regarded as a danger especially in public spaces. They have pet peeves based on heightened feelings of social justice against abusive public utility jeepney drivers, underperforming sales and waiting staff, and other unfortunate members of the service sector that get the receiving end of their ire. Delayed orders and incompetent staff of restaurants are also the usual victims of the notorious 40-year old temper.

There are quite a number of road rage stories as shared by my friends. For instance, instead of avoiding oncoming vehicles that steal the opposite lane to overtake, the default response of one is to meet them head-on to teach them a lesson in a dangerous game of who would blink first.

For psychological release, it is also common for this set to roll down their windows and engage in shouting matches with fellow 40 year olds on the road, followed by a stunted mini-drag race because of the ridiculous Oro traffic. Both embarrassed by the strong show of emotion, their next game is the game of ignore as they are stuck side-by-side for the next hour because of the gridlock.

Other permutations of the male midlife crisis come in other forms. Compensating perhaps for secret inadequacies, they rig their vehicles with the biggest wheels, brightest lights, and tallest non-functioning antenna.

Others take the healthy route, venting their non-verbalized existential dread, by finishing a death-defying marathon and/or triathlon. While others, go the usual way of becoming borderline alcoholics with that daily nightcap to smoothen the day’s rough edges.

There is a host of physiological, psychological, sociological basis for this complex condition. Doctors have a medical term for this and they have labeled this as andropause, which is equivalent to the female menopause.

It is characterized by decreasing levels of testosterone, a hormone, which results in a host of bodily changes. The irritability together with a host of symptoms on the male body including those that mimic the female menopause may lead to some psychological manifestations.

However, the verdict is still out if indeed andropause is as real in its consequences since the decline in testosterone in the ageing male body actually takes place in an extended period of time. The decline of estrogen in the female body occurs abruptly, thus, the display of more heightened symptoms.

Sociologically, the demographic trap of being a male middle-class 40-year old and above, may provide a better explanation for the malady.

The pressures of being in midlevel careers that are going somewhere not very far or nowhere with no options of turning back provide the context for the turn towards nostalgia.

The demand for discarded Doc Martens, Sperry Topsiders, New Balance trainers, and other consumerist markers of one’s youth in the various ukay-ukay shops is evidence of this subconscious pining for the past. The fact that these items are still being sold at premium prices inside malls is further proof of nostalgia as a sound marketing strategy.

The notorious temper is an indication of a claim to a social entitlement that conveys the message that they have achieved this much after so many sacrifices. The least the parking attendant, waiter, traffic enforcer, and others who are curiously below their social standing is to cut them some slack.

There is much untold drama actually taking place behind your male friends’ comical manifestations of midlife crisis. Watch out when they start wearing boots and 501s.
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