The Not Entirely Complete Works of Peter Schulman

©2004 Peter Schulman

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Midlife Crisis

Warning: potentially squeamish material

Just four days until Saturday. I’ll concede there is some possibility I’m having a mid-life crisis. I don’t think that’s the case, but it is possible. Saturday morning my wife is taking the kids to see her parents for spring break. Saturday afternoon I’m finally getting together with Krystal.

We’ve been building up to this for months and I’ve been building up to this for years. Jenna was terrific when we met and married but we’ve been drifting apart for quite some time now. What used to be an exciting and fulfilling sex life has dwindled to the point where I don’t look forward to it the way I used to. It used to be a focal point for our time together. Now it’s something I know I want to do, but I don’t quite remember why.

There is no question in my mind why I wanted to do it with Krystal. Just thinking about being with her gives me an instant erection, something I have to work hard to avoid when I see her at work. We’ve been flirting for quite a few months now. I think I finally developed the courage to approach her when I bought my new Porsche. I saw her admiring it and offered her a ride. She is very attractive and has the wonderful body you might expect from a twenty-five-year old. Not that Jenna has let herself go, but Krystal has that young body that she loves to show off with tight, scant clothes that just barely qualify as business attire.

When I hit forty, I realized this was the only body I would ever have and started to work out regularly, so I’m in pretty good shape myself. At forty-two, I realized there was no reason to wait any longer for that car I had always been longing for so I bought it. Sure, I can’t take more than one passenger, but I feel so good driving it that there has never been any doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do.

Krystal has that exciting singles’ life and this weekend I’ll get to share some of it with her. Hopefully I’ll get to share a week of it. We have plans for dinner and a club Saturday night and I hope we’ll get to do in the afternoon what I know for sure we’ll get to do later that night. What a difference that will be from the home life I seem to have drifted into.

Soccer, drama club, the mall and I don’t even want to think of all the other places I have to drive the girls. Jenna drives too, but it is all so time consuming. Bills to pay, repairs to make, clothes to pick up, seeing her parents was not what I thought I signed up for when I said, "I do." At least this time I won’t have to visit her parents. That would almost have made my week even without the plans I have with Krystal. They never thought I was good enough for their daughter and in the 18 years I’ve known them I have never gotten any sense of real affection from them. They ought to give you a manual to read before you get married. You get a manual before you take the driver’s test and driving is a lot easier.

When we got married Jenna was twenty five and had that body that Krystal has now and I was always looking to get her clothes off of it. Now it’s sweatpants, white athletic socks and a frumpy old shirt she uses for cleaning or just sitting around and relaxing. You’ve heard of fuck-me pumps. This is her leave-me-alone outfit. Even if that was not the case, any passion we might want to express has to be done with the obstacle of two teenage girls in the house.

I still love Jenna and I’m sure she still loves me but there is just something missing. Since I only get one chance in this life, I think I deserve it all and I think Krystal can supply a lot of what I’ve been missing.

I don’t know what to attribute this queasy feeling I have in my stomach to. I’m sure this is what I want to do and I don’t think I’m having second thoughts.


Wednesday morning, I think I slept through the alarm. That wasn’t a queasy feeling, I have serious stomach cramps. I’ve got to get to the bathroom before there is a real mess. It’s so painful, I’m bent over on the way to the bathroom. Excuse me for the indelicacy, but I just realized what must have been the origin for the phrase, "Blow it out your ass." I’m nauseous, but at least I’m not barfing. I’ve got to get back to bed, I can barely stand up.

It’s so hard to get to sleep. I have to keep visiting the bathroom.

The clock says 1:30 and it’s light out so I guess it’s afternoon. Even with all these covers I’m freezing. I duck my head under the covers to trap my warm breath in hopes of defeating this brutal chill. It works and I’m able to get my head back out so it doesn’t smell so gross. I should get something to drink so I don’t get dehydrated, but I don’t have the energy to make it downstairs and back up again.

I hear a car door close outside and the voices of a man and a woman. Then I hear fumbling at the lock of the front door and the voices come inside. My God, Jenna has brought a man back to the house with her when she doesn’t expect me to be here. She’s having an affair. No wonder we don’t seem to be getting along, she’s having a damn affair and I’m about to catch them; so much for feeling any guilt.

"Oh thank God, there you are. When I called you at work, they didn’t know where you were and why you hadn’t come in. I can’t tell you all the horrible things I imagined had happened to you."

She is accompanied by Ed Wilson. He lives three doors down. If she was so worried, why didn’t she send him? Maybe because he doesn’t have a key. "Well Jen, I can see that there are no burglars or anything so I’m going to head back home." Quick thinking Ed.

She makes a phone call. "Roger is here. He’s sick. He probably felt too bad to call and tell you he wouldn’t be in.

"Yeah, I’ll call when I have a better idea of how long he’ll be out. Bye."

I guess if she knows I missed work and didn’t call in, she wouldn’t be stupid enough to bring a lover home. She walks over and runs her hand through my hair. "Poor baby."

"Aaaa. Stop. It hurts."

"What can I get you?"

"Something to drink."

"Have you had anything? Can you keep it down?"

"I’m nauseous but I haven’t barfed yet."

"I’ll get you some ginger ale. If we don’t have any I’ll run to the store to get it."

My skin hurts from the pressure of the sheet. The skin on my face hurts from the pressure of the ambient air passing over it. All my muscles ache.

She returns with a glass of ginger ale. I can’t take more than a couple sips. My stomach is starting to hurt again. Then the need hits me and I rush to the bathroom.

Back in bed I mercifully fall asleep. That is always my preference - to sleep through an illness and wake when I’m better. When I wake, she’s there in her leave-me-alone outfit. She has a dish of lime Jell-o and a spoon for me. It smells good, but I have an urgent need to return to the bathroom.

This time it’s really bad. By the time it’s done pouring out my ass and I get in a quick wipe, I have to turn around and vomit on top of it. It’s a long one and I can barely catch a breath but it keeps coming. It was so fast I didn’t get it all in the bowl. Some is on the seat and some is on the floor. Shit, I have to go again and I don’t have time to clean up. I’ve got barf on me, but at least I manage to get everything into the bowl. I wipe my ass and there is Jenna on her knees with a warm wash cloth cleaning me up. She dries me off with a towel and helps me back to the bed. My head is killing me. Everything is killing me.

"I’ll be back. I need to go into the bathroom to clean up the rug."

I don’t have the energy to stay awake.

It’s getting dark. It’s still light enough for me to see a glass of ginger ale on the night table. Just a couple sips. I feel it going down. It’s so cold. It quickly reaches my stomach and my stomach isn’t happy. It’s starting to hurt again. I don’t know which end will be up, but I know where I’m going.

Both ends. But at least this time I don’t mess the place up. The carpet is moist where I barfed on it before but it smells nice, certainly much better than I do. I get a brief respite before I hurl. I think that is the most appropriate description as it keeps coming out and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I feel a hand running down the back of my neck, soothing me. I don’t know if my skin hurts because I’m mostly wrapped up in the violent contractions of my abdomen, my chest, my shoulders, my back. Mercifully, it ends and she hands me some toilet paper to wipe up with. I flush and she hands me a paper cup with mouthwash. I gargle and at least that incredibly nasty taste is gone. My throat is raw, but at least it tastes minty.

Jenna helps me back to bed and before we can even talk, I’m asleep.

The TV is on and I notice it’s "Law and Order". It must be after 10.

Jenna notices that I’m awake, comes over and hands me the ginger ale. "Try it again. You want to try to avoid getting too dehydrated. That’s how people get seriously ill from something like this."

It feels like I’m seriously ill already but I know she means that dehydration can be life threatening. I can feel it going down again, but it’s not as painful as it hits my stomach.

"Are you hungry at all? Can I get you some Jell-o?"

"No thanks. Not hungry at all."

"Anything I can do?"

"No. What’s the plot?"

"Guy abused his wife, killed his young daughter but they couldn’t prove it so he only got 15 years. He was run down by a hit and run and they’ve focused on his social worker from prison. The guy left his halfway house early and is living with a girlfriend who has kids, which he’s forbidden to do."


By the end, all the DAs are sure the social worker did it. I think it could have been her husband. Gee, I’ve managed to stay awake for half an hour. Maybe I’m getting better. I don’t make it through the 11 o’clock news.

Over the next few hours I make four more less eventful trips to the bathroom. That seems to be all that prevents me from sleeping non-stop.


Well, I made it through ’till morning. I have managed to consume almost one full glass of ginger ale. At this rate I wonder how many days it will take until I’m completely desiccated. I’ve got the chills again. Maybe I’ll be freeze-dried.

I don’t know how she knows I’m awake but here is Jenna with a fresh glass of ginger ale and a dish of Jell-o. This time I think I’ll try to eat something. I take the dish and spoon and eat slowly. Jenna is at the closet and emerges with another blanket. I guess she can see me shivering.

Damn, that was good. I suspect the fact that I could keep anything down is most of why it was good. I can’t believe from a lousy little snack bowl I’m stuffed. I can only take a sip or two and nothing else will fit.

She gets on the other side of the bed, tucks in behind me and puts her arms around me to share her warmth. The shivering subsides. I can hear the girls down in the kitchen having breakfast, getting ready for school. All this sleep and still I’m getting drowsy again.

I awake some time later for yet another trip. It is so exhausting that I need to get back to bed to rest up for the trip downstairs. I want something to eat. As I’m resting, Jenna comes in the room.

"What time is it? Don’t you have to get to work?"

"I took the day off so I could take care of you. You were too sick for me to leave you alone. Can I get you anything? Would you like some chicken broth or some toast?"

"I think I’ll stick with the Jell-o for now." My voice croaks. I think if I had vomited one or two more times, I’d have no voice left at all.

While she’s gone, I assess. All my muscles ache, my skin is still tender, my throat burns and I have no energy. The chills are gone. All in all, I feel a little better.

I scarf the Jell-o, take a couple of sips and I don’t feel awful. I don’t feel good, but I don’t feel awful.

"Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No, I’m fine." Relatively speaking.

We watch a little of the "Tony Danza Show" but I’m not really paying attention. I’m starting to feel worse. This time I’m really hot. I throw off the extra blanket but I’m so hot I’m starting to drip.

I don’t know how she gets in and out of the room without me noticing but Jenna is back at my side placing a cool washcloth on my forehead.

"I wasn’t sure you could keep aspirin down so I figured this would help."

It does. She makes three more trips to refresh the washcloth before I cool down. Even so, all I want to do is sleep.


Even though I’ve slept most of the day, I have a vague sense that she’s been in here. I’ve made a few more trips, but it doesn’t seem like there is much more left to come out.

Jenna turns on Dr. Phil. "Do you think you are ready to try some soup? I got saltines while you were sleeping so you can have them with the soup. I think the girls would appreciate seeing you’re probably not going to die, if you’re up to it."

"I think I can handle that."

"I’ll be back for you when it’s ready."

It isn’t long and I am able to make it downstairs without assistance.

"Where are the girls?"

"I changed my mind. They argued but I don’t want to chance them catching this."

"Good point. What about you?"

"I did what I had to do. You needed me; I took the risk."

What can I say? I finish the soup and crackers and I’m full pretty quickly but I don’t feel terrible. I’m on the road to recovery. Jenna sits there and watches me. I head back upstairs while she cleans up.

As I get into bed, I notice that my legs feel like jelly, but they don’t hurt anymore. My skin is okay too. The remote is on the table by the chair under the window. I don’t feel up to struggling over there just now so I sit in the quiet.

Not for long. Jenna sits in the chair and turns on the TV. I may not have much energy, but tonight I’m able to stay awake most of the time until the 11:00 news.

"I’m going to bed," Jenna says. "I’m going to work tomorrow. You seem well enough to take care of yourself." She gets up and hands me the remote and runs her hand over my hair.

"You’re sleeping in the guest room?"

"Have been. I’m willing to take the risk, but I don’t have to make it worse by sleeping next to you."


I feel much better. I have slept until 10:00 but I don’t feel drugged when I wake up. I could probably handle two, maybe three flights of stairs.

I call work just to make sure they know I’m not coming in. I can’t talk to Krystal without arousing suspicion - all calls go through a switchboard. She won’t call me either. They track outgoing phone calls as well as our internet usage. Isn’t it a wonderful world we live in?

I nap occasionally. But mostly I distract myself with daytime TV. If I had to watch this crap for any extended length of time I think I’d kill myself.

I know I’m home and I can get around, but I don’t have the energy to make dinner. The girls don’t come home right after school and I wonder what activities they have this time. They arrive with Jenna. I guess she’s picked them up from wherever.

They want to rush me but Jenna tells them not to get too close. No amount of protest from any of us convinces her to relent. "You can’t be too careful."

Yes, you can. But I’m not going to win this argument so I don’t bother.

After dinner I’m back in the bedroom watching TV again. I’d read a book but I think it would put me to sleep even easier than the television. Tonight I could retrieve the remote if I needed to. Hell, I could even walk all the way to the TV and manually change the channels if I wanted to, or could figure out how.

Jenna comes in and packs a sizeable suitcase. It will be a week. She tells me how much she is looking forward to visiting with her parents. Better her than me. I respond with insincere regrets that I can’t join them. She knows they are insincere. I know she knows.

She leaves the bedroom at 10:00. She wants to get an early start. I turn off the TV. My symptoms are gone leaving me only with fatigue. I’ll sleep it off.

Jenna wakes me to say goodbye and kisses me on the forehead. Then she goes into the bathroom to wash her hands and mouth. Go boldly, but always with caution.

It’s still a little early for me so I go back to sleep for a bit longer after saying goodbye to the girls.

I wake at 10:30 and I am fully refreshed. I can’t go out for a round of golf, but I can resume most normal activities. Krystal is expecting me around 1:00, if she still thinks I’m coming. No phone calls, no traceability.

My first shower since Tuesday feels delicious and I linger.

I dress and think about the last few days. They were brutal. I wouldn’t want to experience this again, the first two days especially. Thank God Jenna was there. I’d have gotten through it without her, but it wouldn’t have been pretty. Go figure.

I get a little bag and pack enough for the weekend. I don’t require as much as Jenna. She could stay a month on what she packed.

I close up the house and hop into the Porsche. I rev it a few times just to hear the power. Why own a car like this if you can’t enjoy listening to it? And then I’m off.

Sometimes I like to take it out just to drive around and enjoy the fact that I own it and can drive anyplace I want. I don’t take any shortcuts when I’m driving the Porsche. That would shorten the experience.

I’m on the road for a few hours. Sometimes I change gears just to listen to the sound.

Finally, I arrive at my destination. I walk up to the door and ring the bell.

The door opens. "Daddy," a voice shouts with glee.

All right, I’ve been having a mid-life crisis. The thought of all that wonderful sex with Krystal was enticing, and it would be wonderful. It would be new and dangerous and forbidden and wild. But when I compare it with what I might lose with Jenna, it’s a small thing to miss out on. Even if she would put up with me acting that way, she doesn’t deserve to have to. Anyway, I’ll sit down with her and we’ll talk and figure out how we can get back some of that zest we’ve let slide. Just because I’m a guy having a mid-life crisis around an available, desirable woman doesn’t mean I have to be stupid and just because I don’t talk about it doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything from the last few days.

I wonder what kind of trade in I can get on the Porsche.