When does middle age begin? 40? 45? 50? Or is it earlier, like 35 or even 30? My work buddy Randy recently joked about me being middle-aged like he is (he’s in his 50s) and I balked. Why? I’m in my 30s. To me, middle-aged is pre-old. It means I’ve lost all vestiges of young adulthood. But have I? I still feel youngish, at least maturity-wise. And anyway, my folks are middle aged, right? The April issue of Esquire Magazine had a graphic showing middle age starting at age 41 and going through 50. This made me feel good, knowing I had the luxury of a few years to goof around before I started really being a creepy old bachelor with a slowing metabolism. I could also stick it to Randy who is past this range. But then a friend who works at a hospital discovered that patients listed 35-60 years of age are considered middle aged. So which is it? It was bad enough when you have to start checking the 35-45 age bracket. Yes, I’m no spring chicken, but I’m not that old. Middle age is the period between early adulthood and old age when health gradually begins to deteriorate: grey hair, loss of skin elasticity, onset of obesity with a slowing metabolism, and loss of strength and flexibility. When worded this way, as people are living longer and delay having families, it would seem middle age could even be pushed later (he said quite hopefully). It’s not uncommon to see headlines touting how 30 is the new 20 or 50 is the new 40 (certainly written by fearful Boomers deep in denial). The US census lists both age categories, 35-44 and 45-50, as middle age (possibly set 100 years ago when folks died young). Collins Dictionary lists 40-60, while the Oxford English Dictionary has 45-65. Social scientist, Erik Erikson feels it’s 40-65. Maybe being middle aged wouldn’t bother me so much if I had one of the following: financial wealth/satisfaction, employment satisfaction, or a spouse and/or kids. These things would be an indication of normal or exceptional life progression and would soften the whole blow of having gotten old enough to be the parent of a teenager (I don’t have teens, I’m just old enough to have one). Anyway, I still don’t think I’m middle aged. Yes, I have grey hair, but I have since high school. Yes, I’m overweight, but I’m just lazy/distracted and eat too much sugar. I’m full of metabolism. I think I have a few good years left before I join the truly middle aged at the Indian casino buffet. So when do you think middle age begins?