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When Does Middle Age Begin?

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Choose Your Own Adventure Year


Choose Your Own Adventure.  These were in my library. There should be more.

Choose Your Own Adventure books. These are in my library. There should be more.

When I was a bookworm of a kid I loved to read books from the Choose Your Own Adventure series.  The books were unique in that at the end of each chapter you were confronted with 2 choices.  The alternatives would be things like, “to attack the dragon turn to page 10” or “to challenge the dragon to a dance-off turn to page 15”.  You’d pick an option, then read the results of that selection before facing another pair of choices.  Depending on the writer, if you chose the dance-off, you and the dragon might end up as Solid Gold dancers, or you’d be a crispy noodle in Chinese dragon stir-fry.


When I’d reached the end of the book, or the end of the sequences I’d chosen, I would go back and read the book again, picking the other alternatives (fainting goats/epileptic sheep).  Sometimes I would peek ahead all along.  Often a different result was better.  Occasionally worse.  Sometimes the alternative was just different.

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Fear of Middle Age


brady bunch kids middle aged

The Brady Bunch Kids are getting older

Last year I took a poll to see when folks thought middle age begins: 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50.  There were over 130 votes and with about 38% of the vote, they voted overwhelmingly for age 40 as the start of middle age.  Shockingly, every other age group had less than half as many votes.  (See the results here)

This was a tiny blow to me since my 40th year is sneaking up sooner than I’d like and according to the non-scientific sample I took, I’d be joining that middle aged bracket on my 40th birthday (sometime in the near distant future).  In my article Middle Aged?  Already?  I tried to create a strong, though subtle, argument for why 45 might be a better starting point for the middles, but ya’ll were having none of it.  I even listed official definitions and medical opinions, junk like that, but no.  Human perception is king. Read the rest of this entry »

The Dating Sweet Spot

So, there’s this hilarious mythical theory stating that from ages 35 to 45 men are in the perfect position to date the widest age range of women: from post college lasses in their mid twenties to the lasses’ 55 year old mothers (but not actually the mothers and daughters simultaneously because that would be weird). It's known as the Dating Sweet Spot. One could surmise, based purely on age averages, that men in their 30s and 40s cut right in between those extreme age groups of women, thus giving credence to this theory of successfully dating all around the outer edges of time and space. Read the rest of this entry »

Hair Like Peter Brady’s

I was deep in thought under a maple tree the other day, pondering existentialism, when I began reflecting on my hair and how I should totally use one of those programs where you upload a photo of yourself, then add different hairstyles to see how awesome/hideous you look. I’m thinking fro. Oh wait, I DO have a fro pic! A few weeks ago at work when Darrin saw me and said, “Hey, Peter Brady!” I knew that a) he was having a very Jan Brady day, and b) he was also harassing me for me vague resemblance to Peter Brady (of The Brady Bunch) by way of longish hair. I hadn’t had a haircut in 6 months. Read the rest of this entry »


by Jonathan Baldspot Perry

tomselleck magnumpi mustache

Tom Selleck Rocks the Magnum P.I. mustache

I just ended the 2011 Great Mustache Experiment after only 6 days. It was a hideous failure.  There’s this one stubborn spot that won’t grow any hair. It’s where my Hitler mustache would be, but instead of the lip of the Fuhrer (surrounded by my normal hair, of course), there’s a huge vacant ugly gap. It seems all the men in my family have similar mustache issues (and we should start our society, the Brotherhood of Bald Spots.  There would be secret handshakes and meetings in a treehouse where we’d have our manly tea parties and bemoan our inability to grow certain facial hair.  Ah, bonding.).

I could grow out a Fu Manchu, if I was really desperate and into Karate, but it’s still the same thing.  Ugly on me.  And I’m sorry, there are no photos of my ‘stache attempt.  I want to be free of any visual records.  Imagine a 14 year-old boy, just past puberty and trying really hard to grow a mustache, but it just looks like ugly dirt.  That’s how mine looked.  Like that and someone’s hormonally abused grandmother.

No, to grow out a proper mustache I’d have to find a Ted Kaczynski cabin somewhere in the backwoods so I could grow it all out in solitude for months.  I might even get some writing done.  Since months in a cabin would be difficult to maneuver at this point, I’d have to try something else.  A beard-growing mask, for instance.  Maybe brown marker.  Instead of these, though, it might be best to wear a falsy Hitler mustache just to fill out the blank spot until I can do the necessary comb-over.  Apparently my dad does the mustache comb-over, so it’s a thing.

I mentioned my mustache growth attempt to a female coworker after the fact who admitted she hadn’t noticed anything strange growing over my lip.  She also cited something about my baby face (which further cemented her place as one of my favorite coworkers).  I guess it did just look a little like dirt from the wrong angle.  My testosterone must be channeled to more important things.

It would seem some people just aren’t suited for mustaches.  It’s a little disappointing to think you might never be able to grow a good Magnum P.I. mustache.  No Burt Reynolds or Alex Trebek facial hair.  No Snidely Whiplash.  My mustache envy will have to relax.  For now, I’ll have to settle for the 5 o’clock shadow meets Amish man scruff.  That’ll have to do.  At least until I can book my Kaczynski cabin.

(I totally didn’t say anything about mustache rides.)

The secret word is combover

Must Read Links

Children, Braid Your Nosehairs

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The Great Massage Adventure

No Mom, I’m NOT Gay

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by Jonathan Bismuth Perry

I’m quite disappointed this Nativity Creche isn’t mine. Click to enlarge.

Before the season is too far gone, I wanted to share my family’s swell Christmas traditions with you in order to engender your deepest sympathies.  One day I hope to have my own family and will then be forced to carry on many of these highly specific holiday rituals I’ve grown to love (minus the Golden Insulin Needle Award).  Until then, it just so happens I’ve written about these traditions in my unpublished book, The Gentle Art Of Starting A Cult: A Do-It-Yourself Guide, in the chapter “Developing Rituals“, excerpted here for your mockery.  So take this holiday greeting card of love and stick it where the sun don’t shine (Iceland) from December to March.  But mostly in December.

Our family, like the legions of mankind, is blighted with tradition and has some long established Christmas rituals it returns to year after year because of habit and not at all by force. Christmas Eve finds us gathered anticipatorily in the living room near the Christmas tree where we place wagers on when the dry stick will go up in a glorious fireball of holiday sacrifice. Then we sing through an ancient hymnal of carols like good Whovillagers and execute a small family talent show wherein various members juggle, mime the Nutcracker Suite, or a pianist playing Handel accompanies a castrato or a nose flautist. As we bask in the glow of the pagan tree (pre-fire or post, if Jay wins), we might read the Christmas story from the Bible or Charles Dickens.

After that, we painfully delay the gift unwrapping a little longer to consume special high fat Christmas party foods: mom’s fudge, sugar cookies decorated like Menorah (breaks apart with those little candlesticks), English Toffee, Russian Tea Cakes, Iraqi Chocolate Chip Cookies, eggnog (virgin), fruitcake (virgin), and cheeseballs (Uncle Dan).  Apparently, there are also sandwiches and a veggie tray in a pretense of a balanced meal.

A senior member of the family is then designated as Santa, though not forced into a red jumpsuit or Grizzly Adams hirsuteness, and removes gifts from under the tree, distributing one gift per round to each member of the family, until it is discovered that one lucky person has received many more presents than the other members of the family (gift equality is an important part of any communist gifting system). We explain this oversight by pointing out that this person isn’t really the family favorite, but that some of the numerous gifts were less expensive than the few gifts. This fools no one.  Still, a good time is had by all/most, and we unwrap and enjoy our grand gifts by breaking them (except when the gifts can break other things) and appreciate the wonderful and colorful Christmas decorations, like the Nativity Creche (not Koresh) with the three elves and white Gandalf action figure, until the wee hours of the morning.

On Christmas morning, after at least 2 hours of sleep, during which time the senior family members secretly filled the stockings with exciting and high calorie content trinkets, we descend as happy vultures onto the stockings at the mantelpiece and, with the festively shaped chocolate or candy canes hidden inside, recreate the buzz of the sugar high from the night before. It’s at about this time that the family presents its Diabetic of the Year with the Golden Insulin Needle Award(which immediately comes in handy).  We call it the GINA.  Someone very clever and naughty might try to rename it the Virtually Annual Golden Insulin Needle Award.  It would also make the award shape ironic.  We wouldn’t stand for that, though.

In Christmas seasons past, especially when my brothers and I were kids, we would go caroling with family, friends, and members of our church around to homes in randomly selected neighborhoods without neighborhood watch signs. We would sing hearty Christmas carols in multi-part harmony with our pre-pubescent voices and collect money for the poor (I never saw a penny of it) in spite of grumps with rifles and strict non-solicitation laws. Then, when we were done for the night, we would go back to a central location for hot chocolate and cookies. And insulin.  All highly specific rituals. Mostly sugar focused. Quite memorable. Things like these make me feel a part of a family. Reminds me that I don’t do much of this stuff anymore and really should consider seeking some sort of therapy for depression (or, maybe, start a cult.  Or a family.).

Um, Merry Christmas.  We don’t all have Diabetes.  What are your Christmas traditions?  What would you add to your traditions if you could?

The secret (made-up sounding) word is hirsuteness

Christmas Reads:

My 11 Favorite Christmas Albums

Holiday Chocolate-For Independence Day?

11 Steps To Becoming A Domesticated Bachelors: #s 8 & 9. Proper Socialization/Throw Parties

Holiday Hosting Survival Guide

Unrelated Groovy Reading:

Sound Of Music Death Match!! Liesl v Maria

Depeche Mode and High School Girls

Google-Stalking The Ex

Which is Your Type?  A Pseudo-Cosmo Quiz

Will Your Siblings Use Up the Good Names?

Kitten of Evil

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Ode To Autumn

autumn in vermont scarecrow fall leavesby Jonathan Bogman Perry

I think leaf-peeping sounds like it should be a punishable offense.  It would be cool to do, but it just sounds dirty.  Anyway, it’s autumn and time to start taking care of the fallen leaves and wrap up the yard work.  For about a decade after college I lived in a duplex apartment that was pretty unfit for humanity.  There were advantages, though, one of which was the great non-problem of yard work.  I didn’t have to do it.  It’s one of those odd benefits of apartment living.  I actually lived in a basement duplex, so there was a yard on the property and, from time to time, such as when I was dissatisfied with the state of the acreage, I took matters into my own hands and cleaned up my area by trimming back some bushes that had taken to regularly whacking me or removed a discarded refrigerator which has somehow blown into the yard.  Yard work wasn’t required of me by the lease, nor, apparently, was it required of anyone.

The thing is, I do actually enjoy yard work and have fond memories of doing it in ages past.  I find it even more satisfying now to do at my own place.  I affectionately remember during my youth going kicking and screaming to mow the lawn at the threatening behest of my folks, whom, I should add, I love dearly, but might have been evicted by the neighborhood association had it not been for my infrequent yard maintenance.  During my near decade of college I would come home once every few months to find that the jungle in my parents’ backyard had managed to swallow most of the yard tools and several large and endangered mammals.  Of course, I wasn’t the only one to do the yard work.  I do have 2 younger brothers, but either one brother managed conveniently to be overseas in Europe for the school year, or the youngest had a debilitating broken toe which prevented any physical activity besides walking 2 miles to school each way or dancing in the school musical (I really wanted to say ’run on the track team’, but that’s just not so).

I enjoy raking leaves during the crisp autumn afternoons, building great piles of arboreal death, but I would enjoy dental surgery if it were outside in the fall.  Autumn is always thrilling with the fantastic foliage colors of red, orange, brown, and yellow and the nip in the air that promises a brisk winter right around the corner.  These are the days of the holidays and refreshingly happy vacations.  It’s when sports get fun again.  I’m sure I would very much enjoy New England in the fall.  It’s a fantasyland that I have yet to experience.  Perhaps one day when I finally grow up and become a man I’ll move out to New England just so I can be there in the autumn to happily rake up the mountains of fallen leaves that have swallowed the yard and a lost California Condor or two.  I’d probably just leave them there.  They’re so pretty.  The leaves, too.

Vaguely Related Reading:

The Prophecy Of The Tornado And the Trailer

How NOT To Decorate The Bachelor Pad

My Bachelor Pad

Bachelor Step #10: Collect the Right Toys

Bachelor Step #1: THE BACHELOR PAD

$15 Million Ultimate Bachelor Pad

Tenuously Related Reading:

Google-Stalking The Ex

Logan’s Run & Population Control

Valentine’s Day Shame

World Of Warcraft…Dating?

Bachelors In History

Sound Of Music Death Match!!! Liesl v Maria

Kitten Of Evil

Celebrity Crushes: The Girl Next Door

Which Is Your Type? A Pseudo-Cosmo Quiz

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Ignoring Adult Responsibilities

in our dorm room (Left-Jay;Right-my facial hair attempt)

in our dorm room (Left-Jay;Right-my facial hair attempt)

by Jonathan B. Perry

For Memorial Day weekend I visited my brother Jay in Minnesota. I live in Nebraska, so it’s a drive of about 6.5 hours over plains and hills of corn to lakiness with trees, mosquitoes and mutant frogs. I had a super visit, and this holiday drop-in was even a little different from our normal visits. Jay’s wife and their awesome little boy went to Michigan to see her family. Jay stayed behind in MN to see me. Excellent! I especially missed not seeing my four year-old nephew, but was spoiled having Jay all to myself. Even though I’ve gotten over the fact that he’s been married over a decade (and is now sort of a Cubs fan by proxy. Boo. Go Giants!), it’s still a rare and special thing to hang out with him in his solo state.

It was like being back in college and living together in the dorm again: the Perry Brothers staying up into the wee hours and talking about nothing, except now we’re in our 30’s and there’s the specter of work lurking in the back, as well as mortgage refinance talk and not a lick of school. And for Jay, a wonderful family. Yes, we still had our responsibilities, but could vaguely pretend them away for a few days (at least I tried to). We even toured part of the greater Minneapolis area, which included Minnehaha Falls and the Ikea store. Oh, and the Mall of America.

What if, at a moment’s notice, you could be free of all your adult responsibilities? Fold up your grown up stuff and stick it in a box in the garage for a bit. It’d be like those childhood summers where you’d sleep in and do whatever you wanted to all day, every day. No work. No school. The adults would be away at work, so there’d be no one around to hold you responsible for anything. You could go down to the creek, play video games, watch tv, read comic books, eat junk food, swim.

But like all summers, they end and you have to go back to school or your job and mortgage and student loans. Back to life. Back to reality. (hum relevant 80s song). Plants must be watered. The lawn needs to be cut. The cat missed you and threw-up all over your sofa in retribution, so you have to clean that up, too. This visit with my brother was a special sanctuary from the real world and I look forward to savoring the next one. We really should do more of these. He could even visit me and I could drag out the Sibling Bonding Rituals I wrote up many years ago and forget they’re super lame. Yes, the sibling bonding time is the best. I do want to see my nephew, though.

Further Reading:

Being An Uncle

Dating Advice From The Family

Family Advice: A Reversal (Sort Of)

Will Your Siblings Use Up The Good Names?

Men Without Cats

Couples vs Singles: Socialization

Changing Your Relationship Status On A Social-Networking Site

Esperanto Rhymes With Tonto

Bachelors in History

Valentine’s Day Shame

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