Alan recently turned forty. Although happy with his partner and content with his career, he ruminates about becoming middle-aged. His two daughters, ages eight and ten, talk in code around him, roll their eyes when he says something uncool, and seem to prefer their friends' company to his. Strangers call him “Mister.” When Alan considers attending Arrowsmith and Fleetwood Mac concerts, he wonders how he would feel if he ran into teenage neighbors – “or would they not be caught dead there?” Inspecting himself in the mirror, he feels mediocre: double chin, protruding stomach, the V of his torso replaced with a U, plenty of gray infiltrating his brown hair. His days as a swimmer seem long gone. Alan decides to improve how he looks and feels by using Grecian Formula to restore his hair to its original color and starting an exercise regimen of running and weight training.
Having just finished college and taking time off before her first real job, Barbara is concerned about her physical appearance. She has dated little and is exasperated when male friends tell her that she is “a great conversationalist” and has a “terrific personality.” Believing that her romantic prospects will brighten if she looks more alluring, Barbara joins a gym and decides to take a major step she has considered off and on since high school: breast enlargement with saline implants.
By nearly everyone's estimation, Carl is doing well as he approaches age thirty.
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