I used to go to wild parties with wild people. I stayed up all night. I drank too much and participated in all kinds of other consciousness-altering activities that may not necessarily have had the full approval of the state, or my parents. I had dreadlocks, but not those neat, tidy looking store-bought ones. I was a working musician. I drove around Australia in my beautiful 1972 Ford Fairlane hearse. I was one of those guys… the kind of guy that prompts people to say things like, ‘Who’s that crazy fucking guy with the dreadlocks who drives around in that old hearse?’
I liked being that guy. He stood out, but most people tended not to get too close. He was an altogether successful disguise for another, altogether different guy; a shy, nervous, insecure introvert who didn’t much want to be noticed (and, while hiding in plain sight, he increasingly wasn’t).
The dreadlocks are long gone now, largely because my head gradually lost the ability to produce or sustain them. The old hearse lies in state on my father’s farm. I’m not a musician any more. I’m not that guy anymore. I’ve always had good, logical rationalisations for the apparent disappearance of that guy… like, being follically challenged, or the price of oil not being conducive to driving a 19-foot, 3-tonne V8, or that being a non-famous traveling musician isn’t the wisest career choice for a husband and father. Yep, good reasons all. Surely that wild guy from the nineties guy is still in there, somewhere.
I’ve noticed during recent times however that other changes have been occurring, and some of them are worrisome. It started a few years ago when I realised I preferred sitting at the local Family Mart, watching the world go by and street-drinking with neighbourhood friends, to being in crowded nightclubs.
I took my friend Matt to the Officer’s Club in Muscat, of which I’ve recently become a member because I’m an Officer of His Majesty’s Armed Forces. He gave me a sideways glance and said, “So… you’ve gone and joined a country club”. I knew what he meant.
Relaxing poolside I told Matt of my plans to purchase my first new car. I’m going to buy a small SUV. I’ll be able to hit the mountain trails or go wadi-bashing on the weekends, but it’ll also be a good little car for the city. My friend said that it does indeed sound like a reasonable choice.
Shit, even reading all this back just now is a bit scary. I work for the military (the young dreadlocked stoner would surely kick my ass for that alone), hang out at the officer’s club and am about to buy a sensible car. How the fuck did this happen? Where did I go wrong? It’s not all bad though. I mean, I still drink and smoke too much, so at least I’ve got that. I can’t help feeling though that these bizarre lifestyle choices I’ve been making lately have something to do with the fact that I recently turned forty. This must be one of those mid-life crises I’ve heard about.
It’s a funny thing, turning forty and suddenly realising you’ve inadvertently turned into a proper grown up. I’m aware that I’m not as shy, nervous or insecure as I once was. The fact that I’m slowly but irreparably balding, but no longer in need of the dreadlocks that once served such an important purpose in my life, suggests that God may indeed have some kind of plan. The fact that my body is now increasingly insistent on growing hair pretty much everywhere except on my head suggests that it also has quite a sense of humour.