This dream was wrecked on the Dallas North Tollway. (Photo courtesy Exotic Skittles/D.P. Photography)

Ask John Neely Bryan: How to Have a Midlife Crisis, Dallas-Style

Three case studies of how it's properly done.

John Neely Bryan, Our Founder
John Neely Bryan, Our Founder

Question: When I turned 40 about a year ago, I just thought it was another day. But lately I’ve been asking myself a lot more of those introspective questions you normally wouldn’t ask unless you are really drunk or going through a midlife crisis. But can you still be going through a midlife crisis if you’re still in love with your wife, feel fulfilled in your career, have a full head of hair and don’t have any impulses to make expensive material purchases? Why can’t I just be happy that I actually made it to 40? Thanks in advance — Looking for the Beer Tap of Youth in Lake Highlands

You’re going about this all wrong, Mr. Beer Tap. That is the crux of your problem. You are most assuredly undergoing a midlife “crisis,” or as I more correctly refer to it, a “rebirth.” You appear tragically unschooled in the means of how this is properly done in Dallas, the greatest city in the world and a place utterly unique amongst the vast regions of the cosmos.

In this, our mutual homeland, the period of narcissistic self-discernment you describe cannot be overcome merely by such measures as “expensive material purchases,” and in most cases it has nothing whatsoever to do with dissatisfaction with one’s career or chosen life partner.

No, life in Dallas is so magnificent that the nagging necessity of rebirth instead grows out of the realization that one is unworthy of such blessings. Striving to match the city’s unattainable level of greatness is a Sisyphean task, and most are crushed by the pressure of their fruitless attempts. Thus one can’t improve one’s condition to combat such ennui. One must destroy.

Witness the guy who rented a Lamborghini, wrecked the car on the Tollway, and abandoned it. Can you imagine how powerful he must have felt in that moment? How alive he must have been to the adrenaline pumping through his body, his heart thump-thump-thumping so loudly in his own ears that he couldn’t help but let loose a barbaric “Yawp” whilst beating his chest in a gesture that declared himself a man fully aware of his unworthiness? Then the giddiness that must have overcome him to realize how screwed his future insurance rates were going to be? He had been a man flying far too high on this city’s wings, and with the sun threatening to scorch him, he jumped to the ground below. There he felt safe and comfortable at last, even if it meant breaking his own legs on the way down.

A sadder example is set by that woman in Lakewood who decided she didn’t deserve a house. She chucked it all in favor of a 120-square-foot shack complete with a bucket for pooping in. Subjecting herself to such humiliation really should have done the trick, but the fact that she’s tooling around the country instead of settling in Dallas causes me to suspect that she’s not found the peace she sought.

Folks like her are better off thinking bigger. I mean, look at Mike Rawlings. The mayor has really found himself a genius path of self-destruction: Championing the Trinity Toll Road.

Either way this thing shakes out he won’t have to go on living with the sense that he’s not up to Dallas’ standards. (And a midlife rebirth is the only reasonable explanation I can surmise for his actions.) By going bigger, stronger, and harder in favor of cramming a useless highway between the levees — all common sense and facts be damned — he’s trying to make the upcoming May election a referendum on the matter.

If he wins and the toll road carves an irreparable scar alongside the city’s greatest natural asset, then he’ll get to experience the same pulse-pounding sensation of rebirth the Lamborghini fellow did, only more so. He’ll not only have debased himself in the face of the people of Dallas, he’ll also have managed to pull the city down a level or two in the process.

On the other hand, if he’s somehow defeated for re-election, or if a staunchly anti-Toll Road council is seated and blocks the construction of this monstrosity, he’ll be spared having to continue playacting the burdensome role of a worthy city leader. It’s a win for him, regardless.

Whichever of these models you pursue, Mr. Beer Tap, I leave you with a bit of advice I once heard from an old Austrian nun: Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, until you acknowledge that this city is way too good for you.

 

Bringing in ‘da noise and ‘da funk,

John-Neely-Bryan-signature
John Neely Bryan is the founder of the city of Dallas and an expert on all matters. Email him for advice, to have a dispute adjudicated, or to seek his wisdom on any of a myriad of topics, at [email protected].

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