I don’t know about you but it’s mid-May, and I’m still wearing sweaters and winter fleeces. It’s partly because of the weather, but also due to the fact that I suffer from malepause. According to a study by the Sheboygan School of Medicine, malepause starts hitting men in their mid-50s. It causes great discomfort and can lead to irrational behavior. If you check out scandals in the news, most of them involve men in their 50s going off the deep end, like Rod Blagojevich trying to sell a senate seat.
Besides suffering from malepause madness, sufferers are hit by cold flashes. They wear thermal underwear six months a year. Even when they brave the elements in shorts, malepausers wear heat-absorbing black socks to keep their legs warm.
When they’re not freezing, malepause sufferers are seething. They don’t have the monthly tantrums that tormented them in their 20s. They’re angry all the time. I recently spent a day driving around Chicago doing detective work. I was in a rage the entire time and my internal monologue was pure profanity.
However, unlike middle-aged women, our anger is always righteous. For example, let’s say a wife lowers the thermostat to 60 degrees, causing her poor husband to suffer a cold flash and pull on a fleece. The malepauser is quite justified to throw a fit and crank it back up to 65.
Besides severe mood swings, malepausers suffer a loss of muscle mass. So a man who was once a strapping 5-feet-7 and 130 pounds in his prime can now be beaten up by a 12-year-old girl. This muscle weakness can cause family friction.
Let’s say the malepauser is resting his depleted muscles on the sofa, when his wife asks him to carry in groceries. Now, the man is not only weak, he has two large sons who could probably carry him, along with the canned goods. If forced to help, medical experts say the malepauser is perfectly justified in banging the bags down on the counter.
Lack of energy is another symptom of malepause. Formerly active men are thrilled to spend six hours a night thumbing the channel changer. In one case study, the subject confessed that as long as he had sports and the American Heroes channel to watch, his life was complete.
The Sheboygan study doesn’t offer any hope for malepause sufferers. They will add increasing layers of clothing until, in their 70s, they’re bundling up for the fireworks on the 4th of July. They will snap at you for the slightest reason. And don’t expect any manual labor from them. They cannot lift anything heavier than a six-pack.
So if you see one of these overdressed men shuffling through Forest Park, muttering under his breath, don’t be afraid. Compliment him on the North Face knockoff. Soothe him with talk about the Sox, Blackhawks and Bears. And remind him that the American Heroes channel is once again going to show how we won World War II.
This new-and-improved column originally ran on June 3, 2009.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.