My wife told me yesterday that I have been wearing too much black. “But it is my favorite color,” I replied. “It is not a color,” she said. “It is. And for me it is a color that is symbolic of something very personal,” I said. My wife has not been able to understand the alteration that I have gone through in the past few months. I have gone from a rather ordinary looking 38-year-old to a full-fledged new waver. I have been sticking my dyed black hair straight up with aqua net and a hair dryer. I have been painting my finger nails with black nail polish everyday and I wear black eye liner. As I already mentioned I only wear all black clothes and I have a silver crucifix that hangs down to the center of my chest. What I am describing to you is a radical transformation for me. It is a look that I once had in my youth but I never imagined that it would return twenty-five years later. “You’re an adult now, and this look just does not work anymore,” my wife explains, but I do not agree with her. I think I look just fine the way I am.
My new wave transition started after I went through a brief obsessive stage listening to the music of Tears For Fears, Jesus And Mary Chain, The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs and others. The music re-connected me with a certain feeling that I had not felt since I was young. My world has become enclosed with the expectations and responsibilities that adult life seems to entail. These expectations and responsibilities create a kind of worried mood that is never satisfied with what is. The new wave music that I began listening to again, a few months back, re-connected me with a feeling the I possessed in my youth- a happiness with the way things are and a desire to never change. Ofcourse change is inevitable and the desire to not change is a naive luxury that youth can afford, but since I have gone back to my new wave ways I have felt this desire to stay the same, to be myself in a way that I have not had a chance to be in a long time.
My wife and my boss do not understand this explanation. They think that I am going through a mid-life crisis. My boss is threatening to fire me if I do not stop coming to work with black eye liner and crucifix on. I try to explain why I look the way that I do and how the way I look is a natural expression of an inner connection with who I really am. I am happier in all black and having my hair hairsprayed straight up gives me s sense of purpose/meaning because I do not look like everybody else. My boss does not understand. He finds all of my “antics” completely unacceptable. “I need you to come to work looking professional and being prepared to work. I am not employing you to be some kind of self absorbed aging new wave flashback. I have hired you because I believe that you are a good employee and you get the job done, but the way you have been looking and acting the past month is unacceptable,” he says with a very cold and corporate demeanor. I try to talk about my feelings, about how I am being true to my inner core but his position is impossible to change.
My wife called my therapist to talk with her about what is going on. My wife is concerned that I am going to lose my job. I try to tell her that if my boss can not accept me for who I am then I do not want to work for him anyways. After all the world of work was and is not really for me. I am more of a dreamer, a free spirit. I should have been a musician or successful artist but instead I have spent most of my life with my head in the clouds and gotten very little work done. “You need to change, you can change,” my wife said. I replied by saying, “hey those are the lyrics from a great Tears For Fears song!” I was hopeful that maybe she was starting to speak my language, to see things my way, but I was wrong. “Look I really need you to stop this nonsense. You have to work because you have no other options. You are not a famous musician like Robert Smith. You do not have the luxury to dress in whatever crazed way you want to. You need to keep a job, to do what your boss says or else you will not be able to afford anything!! You can still listen to new wave music but you need to change the way you look!! A grown man does not wear black eye liner to work!!!”
When I was young I took for granted the way I looked. I thought I would look the way I looked then, forever. I took for granted the wide open future as a space in time in which things would remain the same. I never imagined that my lifestyle, my friends and my passions would grow old, rust and become so out of fashion. I still have many of the hurts, pains and sorrows that I had when I was a young new waver but now as an older man the one thing I no longer have is the freedom to express these hurts, pains and sorrows the way I once did. I am not yet ready to grow old, to grow up and let go of my youth filled dreams. I am not yet ready to become a professional man with a worn out face who lives a certain life because it is the only reasonable option that is open for him. I still want to be new wave, to wear all black and embody the spirit that I was when young. So I will keep my black headphones around my neck, the black nail polish on my finger nails and try to continue to be me in this mad world where people run around in circles. I find it all kinda of funny and kind of sad………..but now I need to get ready for work.
One thought on “My New Wave Mid-Life Crisis”
This piece made me cry.
This is no crisis. This is your need to express because you must.. not for acceptance. I’m 25 and I just died my hair red to tell a potential boss to fuck off. I am living in poverty, but she didn’t like that I look like the kids I want to counsel. How could I possibly have anything to teach them, she wonders. I dyed my hair red and did not get the job, but I love who I am and I have made a difference for a lot of kids. I’m so happy I didn’t get that job. I didn’t sacrifice myself for money.
Your wife should love this about you. If you are not passionate about the real you…especially when everything else tells you to fade away to be the perfect puzzle piece.. then what do you have left? The anxiety-inducing desk chair, an oppressive marriage, a job you don’t like, and skin you don’t recognize.
You should wear eyeliner. When you are 80 you will wear over-sized khaki’s up around you chest and funny sneakers for comfort. Now is the time for eyeliner just because you still want it.
Thanks for this.