vendredi, octobre 20, 2006

Down with Love?

At the end of The Real Thing, the wonderful Tom Stoppard play, Henry, the playwright's playwriting hero/anti-hero, throws a single on his record player (the play was first produced in 1982). As the curtain comes down, the audience is treated to the strains, not of a Mozart concerto or Renaissance madrigal, but to the Neil Diamond/The Monkees tune, "I'm a Believer." An extended riff on the themes of marriage, the uses of language, and the persistence of love, the play examines the protagonists's evolution from emotional immaturity to tempestous infatuation with his lover and then spouse Anne, to extreme frustration as a writer and husband to acceptance and renewed passion...and the possibility of a love that is real (natch) and lasting. When I saw the play, some years after it was first produced in London, I walked out of the theater radiant with Stoppard's refracted love affair with the English language, and hopeful that if love was possible for Henry, this self-infatuated and passionately intelligent creation of a passionately intelligent playwright, then it might be possible for me. Many years and a marriage later, I am still trying to parse the mysteries of romance, love, love within marriage, and love outside of marriage. Having a deep mistrust of the sentimental, I tend to shy away from cliche and infatuation. Knowing how difficult it is to sustain the white hot heat of sensual and emotional intoxication in a relationship, I prefer to calibrate my words, to move incrementally, to watch, assess, weigh and commit one step at a time. On the other hand, I thrive on relationships that offer kindness and trust, passion and daring. So who knows? You'd think I'd have learned something since I encountered Henry and Anne all those years ago in a darkened theater...I have, you know. I've learned that however many times (to paraphrase Sting) I build fortresses, or stumble across somebody elses defenses, I am still amazed, exultant, and humbled when the bridges get built and the battlements set on fire.

jeudi, octobre 19, 2006

Hot mamas

Ever so often I venture from the merely ridiculous (the political scene) to the totally mysterious (male-female relationships) those of you who suffer from excess of sobriety will just have to bear with me ...or skip this post and do your taxes (only 6 more months until April). Earlier this fall, those who chronicle cultural trends were busy yakking it up about a snippet of information that has recently come to light: one third of single women aged 40-60 (or was it 45-65? some number in that general vicinity) are dating guys who are at least ten years younger than they are. On the surface, this seems like good news for women above 40 (which includes myself). Without being compulsive about it ( for instance-the idea of a diet is anathema in my house) many of us try to stay in good shape, both physically and mentally. We have a right to expect the same of the guys we date (of any age). All of the chat about "cougars" (predatory older women looking for sex) misses the point-that it's about time that women had the freedom to find happiness with the right man, whatever age he is. As I said in a post a couple of months ago, I have no problems with this trend, nor of being a part of it, if I meet the right man. At the same time, I'm beginning to feel a little less naive and a bit more skeptical. Who are these guys (ten years younger or more) who have a thing for older women? Are they just looking for a good bedside manner, or for something more substantial? How young is too young? In a relationship where the woman comes with more experience and perhaps more baggage, who sets the agenda? What if the younger guy has no kids? Is he going to "get" what it's like to be a mother, with all of the responsibilities, passion and crazy love that goes with parenthood? I have no answers. I wish I did. I have the feeling that a relationship with a younger guy is like any other one: when it's right, you can make even the most tricky adjustments. It doesn't really matter whether he is young or older-its more crucial that you share similar values, eccentricities, passions, and a sense of humor. Hot mama? Sure hope I am. But, like most other women running a three ring circus called a family, working and volunteering, I'm also a babe with a lot on her mind. I'm a woman who definitely knows what she wants, and wishes to meet a guy to whom that is attractive...particularly if it happens to include a guy like him. H.M.

lundi, octobre 16, 2006

Where's the bowl?

Driving home after a nice, quiet run, I noticed that the driveway was littered with athletic equipment. Various kinds of sports were represented among the clutter: a badminton racquet, pads for hockey, a tennis racquet, balls, a bicycle, scooters, several skateboards and...could those be ice skates? I was, frankly, baffled by the presence of a box of Cheerios in the garage. I picked it up and took it inside. As a mom, one must harness one's energy for larger questions like: will that wet towel ever make it back into the room where it belongs ? The first thing on my mind was making sure that the neighborhoood children playing some rather esoteric game moved the other sports apparatus they were using off the lawn and back...onto the driveway. It was only later that I remembered to ask Colin and Sian why they had brought a box of cereal out to the garage. To be honest, I don't remember the answer-it may have had something to do with feeding a "rescued" caterpillar. The only thing missing from the driveway was the caterpillar, which had moved into the house and was now living in a recycled box replete with leaves, sticks, and airholes. It is possible, however, that the Cheerios were really taken outside for conventional purposes-after all, I also found a cereal bowl outside on the driveway. But somehow I doubt that in this case, the simple explanation is the best-after all, the milk still was in the refrigerator.