1. Job change This is a terrifying early warning sign that meltdown is imminent. When he comes home and announces he is leaving his 30-year career in insurance to open a home-brew supply business, you know you’re in for a bumpy ride.
2. Death-defying behaviour Also terrifying and potentially widow-making. This is when he comes home and announces he is going to take up rally driving/BASE-jumping/big-wave surfing/crocodile hunting. “Life is short,” he philosophises. “I don’t want to die without ever having thrown myself off a cliff.”
3. Grooming When one day he looks in the mirror and sees some old guy looking back at him. Eeeek! He panics and buys nose-hair trimmers, ditches his trusty barber for a stylist who does highlights, books in for a back wax and buys a wardrobe of smart casual wear and some musky man scent.
4. Reverting to twenties behaviour This classic attempt at recapturing lost youth usually involves the sudden desire to go to three-day music festivals, drink excessively, leave old magazines and drinks cans in the car and live on nothing but kebabs and two-minute noodles. This will ultimately undo or lead to point 5.
5. Exercise frenzy À la Lester Burnham in American Beauty. If he can just strengthen his abs enough to suck his belly in as he’s jogging past the backpackers on the beach… He’s at the gym three mornings a week and watches his reflection in the window as he lifts the new flat-screen out of the car. One of the few MLC symptoms to be encouraged.
6. Outrageous purchases You come home from work to find a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy/cabin cruiser/Hummer parked in the driveway and a 65in flat-screen TV installed in the shed. That money was supposed to last until you were 90, but it’s nice to see him smiling – for a change.
7. Flirting The old “have I still got it?” trap. It’s a nagging question that leads many a man of a certain age to drop his voice an octave, lean casually on reception desks while flicking back his newly highlighted hair and say things like, “Let’s hook up for a Cosmopolitan,” to girls younger than his own daughter. Mostly harmless but can lead to over-inflated egos and/or arrest.
8. Seeking out old loves This is either in the obvious form of finding his Year 11 girlfriend on Facebook, rediscovering the rush of skateboarding or digging out his old amp and bass and getting the guys in his old punkabilly band over for a jam. This is a desperate attempt at reminding himself of who he used to be and why people liked him. Can lead to bouts of self-absorbed nostalgia and using words like “cool” a lot.
9. Irresponsibility He gets the words “free spirit” tattooed across his shoulders, starts paying for everything on credit and stays up until 2am watching the soccer.
10. Excessive reminiscing “Remember that time when the band played at that music festival and we all stayed up all night drinking longnecks of beer and talking about how one day we’d…” blah blah blah. This is perhaps not a good time to join in and fondly remember old boyfriends (except perhaps the one sitting opposite).