The Vending Machine of Middle Age

Welcome to the vending machine of middle age!  Get ready to enjoy a plethora of treats, whether you were in the mood for them or not!

With so many options, what will you try first? That’s for fate and genetics to decide!  Regardless, here’s the nutritional information on some of its top sellers.



Tired and overwhelmed after reading the news? No worries!  Make sure all your news is in a size 10 font or smaller and you’ll never have to read it again because you literally won’t be able to!  While your 20’s may have been filled with jovial discussions about music and philosophy, your life will now be filled with ongoing comparisons of whether it’s better to get reading glasses or “progressives,” which is a hip term meaning, “bifocals, but for young cool people,” because that’s still how you see yourself.

Bad eyesight is one of the early welcome gifts of middle age, so dig in to this bite-sized bag of vision-induced migraines and not being able to focus on small objects near your face. One serving probably has tons of sodium and no real nutritional value, but I have no actual idea because I can’t read the words on the packaging.



Caring for Aging Parents is one of the biggest sellers! This product has turned out innumerable spinoff flavors, including (but not limited to!)

Caring for a Sick Parent!

Caring for a Dying Parent!

Caring for a Living Parent Who Is Resentful That They Can’t Care for Themselves, but They Definitely Can’t, So You Had to Intervene!

Watching a Parent Die!

Managing the Affairs/Wishes of a Parent Who Has Died While Also Dealing with the Emotional Aspect of Having Lost That Parent!

Caring for a Parent Who is Physically Very Healthy but Keeps Doing Dumb Shit like Changing Lightbulbs in the Garage on Horrifically Rickety Stepstools Even Though You Have Begged Her 1000 Times to Please Stop Doing That!

And many more!

All these flavors are terrible! There is also a dipping sauce called, “Just sort of pretend it’s no big deal to do this physical and emotional labor and never mention out loud what percentage of your life is devoted to stressing about this.”  I hate everything this company makes and hope they go out of business!




I’ve been gently snacking on these throughout my 30’s, but they’re now a staple in my pantry.

Not that I’m admitting to looking old!  I’m definitely not doing that!  As long as I’m in the perfect type of soft lighting and I hold my face in exactly one certain way I can pass for a 36-year-old, but it’s hard to hold that exact position for more than a few seconds, and realistically how many Zoom meetings can I have in that one department store bathroom before people start to ask questions?*


*I assume the questions would be asked by both the people in the Zoom meeting AND the people working in the department store


Money issues? None over here! We’re to-ta-lly fine with money and it’s definitely not the topic of three fourths of the conversations I have with my spouse.

If you need a guide, here is how we spend our money as a family of four raising two growing children:


Food: maybe 200,000 dollars a month, this will jump to 400,000 or a million a month when the kids are teenagers

Extra Curricular Activities for the Kids: No idea, maybe 30,000 a month plus equipment?

Housing in a Metropolitan Area + Taxes: hahahahahaha, kill me

Replacing Random Appliances That Keep Breaking: 90,000 dollars a month

Utilities: Probably also 90,000 dollars a month, who knows, my spouse pays this one

Medical Bills So I Can Ask A Doctor if Whatever’s Currently Happening to Me is “Something I should be worried about?”: 25,000 a year because the other 2 billion is (thank freaking god) covered by insurance for now

Dental Bills + Orthodontia: (censored so that I myself do not have to look at this number)

Various Streaming Services: I think 90 million a month but they just updated their user agreement, so maybe it’s more now

Car Stuff: I just hand them 100 dollar bills until they tell me to stop

The Hole Where I Throw Money for Fun: Oh I’ve lost track, I just love throwing money into this bottomless, meaningless hole.

New Clothes for me so I don’t look like a character in a Charles Dickens novel: $0 because I can’t justify it after all the other purchases plus the money I threw into the hole, but also “Character from a Charles Dickens Novel” is sort of my trademark look, so that works out.




Always a fun choice because you have literally no idea what’s inside!

Will my kids do ok in school?

Will doing ok in school translate into anything?

By the time they’re old enough for college, will college cost more than a pint of farmer’s market strawberries? (approx. $800,000)

Will my older son ever stop listening to the song Monster Mash on repeat? (starting to think maybe not)

Should I randomly change careers to something steady and reliable because the world is insane and I want to make sure my kids can someday afford college and/or graduate school and/or strawberries? (Not farmer’s market ones, we’re not that ambitious, just the regular kind).

What will happen to us? To me, my kids, my spouse, my parent who insists on climbing poorly-designed stepladders to change their stupid smoke alarm battery?  We are all going to die someday, but when? And what should I do before it happens?

My youngest son doesn’t think or worry much about the future, but if you ask what he wants to be when he grows up, he will tell you he wants to be a masseuse/astronaut who is also a scientist who brings people back from the dead—professions whose salaries will hopefully cover the cost of the innumerable streaming services to which he is accustomed.  He frequently asks me if I want a massage (he is trying to practice) and I usually say yes, allowing him to karate chop my shoulderblades as I lovingly yell things like, “ok, maybe not so hard,” and “PLEASE NOT THE SPINE.” Weirdly, for a 7-year-old, he is pretty good.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that while The Future is hands down my least favorite item in this vending machine, it’s also my favorite because there’s always some hope.

And on days that there isn’t, and the future seems particularly horrific, I’ll just focus on the present, since at least in the present I’m getting a back massage.  It may not be a perfect back massage, but it’s good enough to distract me from the 11th consecutive playing of “Monster Mash,” which in turn is helpful in distracting me from the fact that another appliance just broke, which in turn distracts me from the news, most of which I can’t read anyway because the font is too small.  Distraction plus hope can be a dangerous combination, but it’s also a useful one.

The 7-year-old asks how the massage was and I tell him he’s getting better.  He tells me now that he’s better at massaging, he’s going to go work on bringing people back from the dead, and that’s my cue to make dinner.


4 CommentsComment