It was the middle of the day and I was still in my pajamas. I was lying on the couch watching a reality show about “real housewives” and I was covered in the pets I’ve been collecting for the past decade. We were semi-catatonic and drooling. Then the phone rang.
“You’re still in your pajamas, aren’t you?” the voice accused. It was Addison, my best gay boyfriend.
“What makes you think that?” I asked, wiping the drool from my mouth, the most effort I was willing to make to rouse myself out of my stupor.
“What’s become of you?” he moaned. What he really meant, though, was “what’s become of US.” And he wasn’t really looking for a response, because we both knew the answer.
Our 40s. That’s what happened.
Addison and I met when we were in our late 20’s. He was a handsome, charming, control freak in search of a blank slate to mess up with outlandish color. And I was that blank slate. Until he met me, he kept his distance from lesbians, whom he collectively referred to as “The Sisters Grimm.” “But you!” he said, staring me up and down as if I was a bolt of tired fabric that could easily be livened up with some rhinestones and appliqué. “You’ve got a spark.”
And so began the decade of my 30s—a riotous, joyful experiment in bad choices. Every night, with Addison’s eager endorsement, I made at least one new mistake. And each morning, with Addison serving as an attentive and encouraging audience, I had a new, humiliating story to tell over breakfast. We’d sip our coffee and merrily shake our heads over our outrageous behavior the night before….and then vow to do it all over again the coming evening.
It was fun! It was sloppy! And, ultimately, it was exhausting! At a certain point, late in the decade, our suburban middle-class sensibilities kicked in and we both settled down. We found “partners.” We bought “condos.” We took “family portraits in matching outfits.” As the years passed, cocktail hour creeped closer to noon. It was our last vestige of naughtiness and we embraced it at the expense of our complexions and waistlines. Instead of commiserating about our nights of debauchery, we exchanged tales of Bloody Mary-fueled brunches that ended in nothing more than a hopeful exchange of glances with far too young wait staff.
“What we need is a ‘Comeback!’” Addison said. “Just like Judy Garland did each time she overdosed or got fat!”
I immediately warmed to the idea. I liked the notion of waltzing onto the stage at The Palace, as Judy did in 1951, to a raucous reception from the sold-out crowd. But, then, I remember that no one in the world is anxiously waiting for me to take stage, let alone belt out a tune.
“But what are we making a comeback from?” I asked. Even during the years that marked the height of our wantonness, we always ably managed good jobs and kept up with our gardening. It’s not as if we disappeared into an opium den for a lost decade.
“Middle-aged malaise!” he announced grandly.
“How do we ‘comeback’ from that?” I asked with mild curiosity. One of the symptoms of “middle-aged malaise” is that you see little value in getting overly enthusiastic about anything. You know too well where getting excited leads you—usually into a troubled relationship with a woman who has byzantine food restrictions.
“Well, you can start by getting out of your #%$^&@ pajamas before noon. And then we’ll go from there!”
(Readers: I’ve decided to focus my next several columns on my Comeback Tour! Next time, we’ll find out what happens when I take my first yoga class. Yes, I know! It will be almost too exciting.)