Is the mid life crisis affair a concept unique only to the baby boomer generation?
I ask the question because, as I approach my own...midlife, - albeit from a very fucking great distance (I'm still on the good side of 35!) I find myself wondering what it is that motivates people of the boomer generation to indulge in illicit affairs.
David Williamson a noted Australian playwright and his wife Kristin Williamson, both of whom can be classed as baby boomers, featured in an article in the "Weekend Australian" magazine where they talked openly about this affair David had been having. Kristin Williams observed of her husband in her book that he spent much of his career satirizing this sort of rubbish. Now, it would appear that he, himself was up to his short and curlies in it. The feature mainly served to plug a book she had written about the affair and the impact it had on their marriage. That in itself, I found a little distasteful but I guess one should expect no less from these self obsessed arty-farty types. But it was illuminating, in that I started thinking about the mid life crisis and just how common it seems to be that people - couples - of my parents generation indulge in it more than any other.
I can point to numerous examples in my parents circle of friends alone where an illicit affair has visited a seemingly harmonious marriage. It sheeted home to me just how dysfunctional some these people were - people whom I looked up to. Shit, when I was 20, I found myself in a situation whereby I received some "attention" from one of these bored house wives (who I might add was way hot) but I didn't go there. It woulda been too weird.
Is there some switch in these people that flips at around 40 whereby they suddenly get horny as fuck and just have to go out and screw anyone but their spouse in order to satisfy themselves that they've still got it? I'm sure there is statistical evidence out there, somewhere that reveals that swingers parties and brothels boast patronage in the 40-55 year old age bracket moreso than any other demographic.
Is it that the mundanity of the suburban existence has become so spiritually barren that boomers crave some illicit adventure to reinvigorate themselves? I look across the rooftops of some suburban enclaves that I drive past and I shudder. They are so bloody soulless.
The fallout(s) from these affairs have varied. The affairs have been revealed, the couples have stayed together 'for the sake of the children' and hated each from then on. Or they have split 'for the sake if the children', hated each other from then on and gone on to fuck like alley cats...not each other - separately of course. Or they have somehow laid bare the truth of their situation, acknowledged fault on both sides, resolve stay together 'for the sake of the children', hate each other - for a little while - then end up fucking each other like alley cats, thus subjecting their children to a Steve & Elise Keaton/Family Ties midlife love affair that grosses everyone out. And they make it through.
Did you get all of that?
Mine was the generation X who grew up in a weird time. It began, I think, when Kurt Cobain topped himself and and ended probably around September 11 2001. My generation matured in a fairly dour time of political and economic reform, of recession and rationalization and of world events that were invariably regarded as abject failures - The Rwandan Genocide, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Asian Economic Crisis, Jennifer Aniston. The familiar catch phrase from that time 'reality bites' still lingers. This has evolved into the Y-generation which, with the exception of a handful of people I know, has to be the most comatose generation in history! "Do you want fries with that" Society has been homogenized and pasteurized down into a consumerist amalgam where everything from music to fashion to religion to sex has to have a profit potential attached to it or it has to be something you have to vote for via a fucking 1900 number from your cell.
Whereas my parents generation grew up in the generation of free love, Woodstock, social upheaval and Timothy Leary, I and my contemporaries grew up in a time of free fuck all, oppressive consumerist instrumentalities (constructed, ironically, by the very baby boomers that shunned it), an almost extreme social conservatism and...I dunno...Bono?!
The X generation are weary while the Y generation are so heavily narcotized neither group can be bothered with having an affair.
Dean Carlson, co-host of the popular internet talk radio show Red Bar Radio .com, recently observed that internet porn has ruined the sexual drives of a lot of our generation. Because it is so readily available and often for free, one can obtain instant, masturbatorial gratification without the need for expending effort on illicit dalliances which, quite frankly, just take too much effort.
I mean lets face it - all sex really is, is a moment of ejaculation - a bodily function that, since god knows when, human beings have coveted as though their lives depended on it. Don't get me wrong I enjoy sex - a lot! But the world, my world is complicated enough. I just could not be fagged expending time and energy on an affair for all the bullshit it would cause.
This is the "gift" I guess you could argue, that the boomer generation have bestowed on us. An oft-quoted "whinge" of the boomers is that my generation, in general, are lazy, lack motivation and "just can't be fucked". Well I guess when you have an entire magazine feature in a nations major daily broadsheet devoted entirely to a self obsessed boomer couple's mid life crisis and its fallout then our generations predisposition towards "not being fucked" can actually be considered admirable...