Signs a man's biological clock is ticking
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Tick Tock1 of 9
By Michael Mullen
Back in August, The New York Times wrote about a study that bolsters the idea of a male biological clock. Turns out, mutations in older men's sperm may lead to a higher risk of autism and schizophrenia in offspring. The results of the study weren't definitive, but they are confirmation that all this talk about 40 being the new 30 is a bunch of hooey. The clock is ticking and plenty of men, just like women, worry about putting off parenthood. If you're, say, 35, and you choose to ignore science, I offer more subjective proof that manopause approaches.
Bagels vs. Sex2 of 9
This process starts around the time you're 30, but a decade later, the lure of the bagel has grown considerably in power. You wake up in the morning and, given the choice of a toasty bagel or hot sex, the bagel offers serious competition. I'm not talking about a little fluffy loaf of bread with a hole punched out. I'm talking about the good ones, made by a 96-year-old bagel master who has been rising at 4 a.m to craft doughy rings of deliciousness for the last 75 years. Add lox and freshly brewed coffee and you've got a complete cycle of testosterone-replacement therapy.
It's All Relative3 of 9
When I was a kid, my parents paid for everything: food, shelter, a car, and a dog. They also provided a moral framework so I wouldn't spend my life in prison, but I generally resented them and thought they were out to thwart my ambitions. Now that I've been out in the world for a couple decades, there are lots of things we disagree on, but they're certainly starting to make sense. Maybe because almost nobody else on the planet is. They couldn't care less about Katy Perry or Lady Gaga—I truly respect that. Also, now that I'm 40, they're the only ones who would still consider me a wunderkind.
Bumming Around4 of 9
A few months back a friend of mine lost his job, broke up with his girlfriend and moved out of their apartment. He crammed all his earthly possessions into his Saturn SUV and spent the next couple months crashing with friends. He's 25, so it's called couch surfing. But if you do that at 40, it's called homelessness. At 40, you need a firm bed to keep from throwing out your back. And it's also helpful to have a steady relationship with someone who can remind you to keep the nose hair in check and get bagels with you in the morning.
Memoir-abilia5 of 9
I have friends who have written memoirs, something I once considered a self-indulgent pursuit—I'm not Andre Agassi or Bill Clinton. What could I possibly have to add to the record of humanity's travails? But now that I'm staring the last half of my life in the face, I have realized that I do have one or two things to say. My memoir will be a rebuttal to Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go! Mine will be called Oh, the Places You've Never Gone and Never Will Because of Your Crushing Debt.
Now, It's Permanent6 of 9
Wobbly knees, cranky vertebrae, popping shoulders—nothing catastrophic in my case, but the gauges are beginning to stick. Comedian Louis C.K. (who sums up 40 as being "half dead") describes going to the doctor after developing a mysterious limp. The doctor's response when asked if it was a serious injury? "No, your ankle's just sh----ty now." No, you can't walk it off, because it's forever. Skip straight to the last stage of grieving—acceptance.
Age & Treachery7 of 9
What to do when the luster of youth fades? There's an old saying: "Age and treachery beats youth and skill every time." I'm resigned to the fact that my good looks and karate prowess are unlikely to carry me far in my waning days. I have begun to relate to figures like Richard III and Tony Soprano. I'm not saying that crime bosses and vengeful hunchback kings are role models, just that at this age, one has to be a little more creative when it comes to getting ahead.
Puppy Love8 of 9
I know this contradicts "Age & Treachery" but what can I do? This is a difficult age. These days my heart melts at the sight of adorable baby animals—piglets, puppies, that kind of thing. When I was 25, I could have looked at a bulldog puppy, leaping and snuffling, with ironic detachment, but no more. But so what if I like to cuddle with puppies? I'm sure this is an evolutionary trigger designed to keep us from eating our young when we're feeling grumpy.
No Kidding9 of 9
My wife and I both love kids, but we don't have any of our own yet. She's younger than me and considering starting a new business, so having a baby isn't at the top of her list. Photos on Instagram tell me that everyone we know has a precocious child—between 2 and 4—who wears goofy hats and plays in pumpkin patches with other photogenic children. I show these pictures to my wife. "Look at Ryan and Nancy's son! He's adorable!" Then I check her response, to see if the puppy-and-kitten effect is kicking in. I know it will work eventually. It has to—my biological clock is ticking.