Every 25 years or so, I experience an overwhelming urge to change careers. When I wrote this column in 2002, I was considering two very different professions.

© August 2002 Mark W. Mayfield

Every man will eventually reach the “over-the-hill” phase of his life, which begins on the fateful day when his teenage son fairly beats him in three consecutive games of basketball (despite the fact that I violently tackled him every time he dribbled the ball and screamed, “MISS!!” whenever he took a shot), wins four consecutive footraces to the end of the driveway and back (despite the fact that he ran backwards after giving me a huge head start), and easily prevails in a grueling sit-up contest (despite the fact that I “accidentally” placed two10-pound weights on his chest).

Like many men who have reached this dreaded phase of their lives, I’m occasionally struck by the urge to do something completely different with the rest of my rapidly passing time on earth, to change course in the middle of life’s journey, to boldly embark on a new, noble occupation, one that offers true spiritual fulfillment.

I really want to be a brain surgeon, an astronaut, Bill Gates or an incredibly wealthy NBA star, but since the sight of internal organs, especially brains, makes me queasy, and since I have a terrible fear of flying, especially at 25,000 mph, and since I look terrible in nerdy glasses, and since my ability to make a three-point basket ranks somewhere between “Almost Never” and “Never,” I had to ponder other options. After much consideration, I narrowed my choices to two professions, which are listed below with their pros and cons.

1. Movie star
I don’t mean one of those old-fashioned movie stars who had actual talent. I mean a modern movie star, whose fame is based solely on his smile, pectoral arrangement and/or abdominal definition.


–My blockbuster movies would earn millions of dollars, which is even better than “true spiritual fulfillment.”

–I would have legions of fans who worship and adore me.

–Star-struck restaurant owners would give me free meals.

–Other movie stars would call me at home to invite me to hang out with them. (“Hi, Mark, this is your best friend, Denzel. Several other movie stars and I are going to a fancy restaurant to get free food. Wanna go with us?”)


–My greedy agent would insist that I secretly undergo painful “pectoral enhancement” surgery to replace my “over-the-hill” chest muscles with perky new “top-of-the-hill” silicon chest muscles, which are essential for modern male movie stars who remove their shirts during love scenes with beautiful starlets.

–After beholding my impressive chest muscles in my latest blockbuster movie, obsessed female fans would follow me wherever I go, begging me to remove my shirt and flex my pecs.

–My wife would embarrass me in front of those obsessed female fans by saying, “Believe me, ladies, his real chest muscles are nothing special. In fact, I’ve seen better pecs on a jellyfish!”

2. Mideast Peace Negotiator
I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than single-handedly bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East.


–This profession doesn’t require painful “pectoral enhancement” surgery.

–I would travel to faraway places and experience different cultures.

–I would frequently appear on Sunday morning news shows, where I could impress the host with my diplomatic lingo. (Example: “My timely intervention has undoubtedly averted a crisis, and now we must move forward, seize the moment, and bring both sides to the table for meaningful dialogue, which can foster mutual trust and eventually lead to an equitable solution.”)


–I would have to actually study the region’s politics, history and culture so I can understand what all the fuss is about.

–I would have to look up “envoy” in the dictionary.

–Stray bullets and flying shrapnel make me very nervous.

So if you’re a greedy agent or an influential person in the White House, please contact me immediately. I want to begin my new profession asap.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Eb (ebenezer) on May 16, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I fear that I am not an influential person in the White House, but I nevertheless must hope that His Wordsmithness, the Amazing Markimus, will soon be instated as the official Suit Wearer in the USDMEWMDS (U.S. Department of Middle Eastern Well-Meaning Diplomatic Stammering). It is significant that in the photo shown above, yours is the only face exhibiting evidence of either extremely sharp, alert, and poised consciousness or just cognitive activity in general (yours exhibits both). The other two participants in the Mideast negotiation pictured appear to be extremely sleepy, if not actually deceased. Do not worry yourself, your Wordsmithness, about the region’s politics (they generally operate under the slogan We Want To Kill Pretty Much Everybody), history (they have been at that for over 60 years, and the only changes that time has made is the introduction of more powerful agents of Pretty Much Everybody Killing), or culture (they eat a lot of hummus and spend their time in sweating profusely). Also, do not neglect to provide us with more demonstrations of your Wordsmithness’s brilliance when you have time to get around to it.


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