vendredi, juin 28, 2013

Two decades and counting down: the older woman-younger guy revolution and why I'm not signing on

I'm currently engaged in a dialogue with a younger male acquaintance about why some guys prefer older women.

As in, significantly older women -- we're talking about a two-decade or more gap.  Ten years? That's different music, World Series winners, and more grey hairs.

Two decades, however? That's a generation.

Understand, I'm not judging.  Some of my friends date men or women where there is a big age difference, and they seem to be very happy.

But that doesn't mean I understand it --or perhaps it's fairer to say that ignorance makes me apprehensive.

When men in their fifties date women in their thirties it can appear to be fueled by a power imbalance redressed by a body imbalance.

One effect of the change in the role of women in American culture is that we tend to look at such alliances with a more skeptical eye.  A higher standard isn't a bad standard.

I'm approached, fairly regularly, by men in their twenties. When I get to pondering why they are even bothering to check me out, I wonder what else, besides the usual, could be going on.

Do they want a mother figure?

Do they experience women their own age as less mature?

Are they looking for someone to take the reins and lead them?

By the time you get into your forties, and then into your fifties,  we all have scars, unresolved conflicts, fears and doubts. 

Developmentally, we are in a different place than our unmarried  younger friends, even those who have had what are now hideously called "starter marriages."

I'm not even sure if I have a common vocabulary with a thirty-year-old guy.

Besides, I don't want to be in a situation where someone looks at me and speculates as to what HE is doing with me.

Particularly not if that's exactly what I am asking myself.

My friend is handsome, has a good job, is well-educated, and on his way to an interesting life.  He's a great catch.  For someone his own age.

jeudi, juin 27, 2013

Stilettos, Porn, and your iPhone 5: how does what we consume define us?

Let me get this on the screen right up front.

I can't wear your shoes, ladies. I can't adorn my tootsies with 95 percent of the strappy, open-toed, glittering numbers stores put in their front windows.

Ever since I was a kid, I've been ordering my shoes from the "Tall Girl" (should be called "Tall Girl with Big Feet") catalogue.

Until Zappos and other online retailers came along, I had to sneak to the back of the store and scan their remnant rack to see if someone had decided there were enough of my kind to produce a shoe I could wear.

Do  I have shoe envy? Of course.

And I'm aware that lots of women with their demure size sixes, find it comforting to pick up an inexpensive (or perhaps a more expensive) pair on the way home from work, or a tough talk with the spouse, or just because they go with that outfit you just bought.

My retail therapy expresses itself differently, as I "find' myself at Macys on a Friday night, or my fingers wander every few months over to Bidz, the online jewelry site where you can find something funky and bid just enough to make it yours.

I'm not an addict. But I am inclined to use material goods as a substitute for loneliness, or discontent, or a spur to the fantasy that it's THIS sweater or those lacy leggings that will catch his eye.

Do you have an alchemical cure? Or perhaps a couple of (temporary) moodraisers?

I sometimes wonder if they free us -- or cage us in. Retail therapy wouldn't be so popular if it didn't give a rush, if only until the next mood swing or "gotta have it" moment.

Does your thirst for books or jewelry or charming chemises form a boundary beyond which you dare not dream?

Then there are all the online sex shoppes.

There's a reason so many magazines keep talkin'  porn. Its availability to everyone, pretty much, is a sign of  our times.

  When we took apart my father's house my sister and her boyfriend found a Confederate bayonet. but no skanky magazines. Of course, dad was in his late eighties -- but I never had the sense that publicly consumed erotica was a part of our domestic life.

Not so anymore.  Older male mentors have warned my son that pornography is everywhere, and coping with it a lifetime temptation.

After a  date with a prospective beau, I idly wonder, more  curious than anything else, as to whether he is a fan of online porn.  When it is available at the tap of a few fingers, it is hard to assume that most guys aren't partaking -- whether guiltily or not is another topic.

 My most extended encounter with on screen erotica was an "art" movie screened at my college.So yeah, not exactly an expert.  I believe I saw it with this incredible nerd, but that's another story...

Oh, and then there was the artist who kept showing me Gustav Klimt pictures and wanting to take my picture. I hid in my rented room at the back of the house when he would show up, totally clueless.

But when it comes to dating,  I am a little concerned about my competition, with her sultry eyes and facile hands. My most unexceptional form is no match, at any given time with what he sees flickering across his monitor or cell phone.

For a man (or men) who have lived in the desert for long time, even a pixelated siren seems like a long, cool drink of water.

And I don't think I am alone.  Many women are concerned that they are being defined, both anatomically and amorously, by the soulless antics of paid and often exploited actors and actresses.

It's not easy to talk about these topics -- certainly not with your spouse or your kids. But as long as we can't talk about what virtual sex does for and to us (and women also consume it), it will continue to call out to us, offering substitute for the messy realities of male and female intimacy.

Ask yourself -- do your secrets define you?

I recently read an article about how the ubiquity of cell phones was one factor in decreasing parent-infant communication.

Of course, we don't need articles to tell us this. We see it all over, as the mother chats on the cell phone in the Acme while the children run up the aisles, or dad keeps his phone glued to his ear while maneuvering his huge SUV through the parking lot at the Little League fields. Or casting furtive glances at it while his son runs the bases.

Access to email. Access to Facebook. All of these incredible apps...that newest iPhone or tablet is just too fabulous to walk by. Unputdownabble, in fact.

Meanwhile, life flows and ebbs around you, and me.

If we don't lift up our eyes from the screen, we might not even know what we are missing.

I'm not against fantasy -- whether it be in a good book or a Star Wars app.   But if I had to choose, I'd take messy life, with all of its inconsistencies and challenges, over the gauzy goods marketed to fulfill our dreams.

After all, they are just substitutes.

I want the real thing.  And I bet you do, too.

mardi, juin 25, 2013

Dance like everybody's watching

I turned around, half-furtively, to see  if there was a car coming up the hill.

Or, heaven forbid, another exerciser, breathing deeply as he or she ascended  the steep grade and neared the turn where the road climbed towards the left-handed turn onto the grassy lawn of the elementary school.

Nobody in sight, I lifted my arms above my head, and, experimentally, did a few twirls.

I could say that dancing up the lane made the road ascent easier: any runner or walker knows the trick of moving diagonally to break up the tedium.

But that wasn't really the reason.

I was just tired of being so a model of sobriety.

Being so serious for so long is exhausting.  No one wants to be around someone (often, anyway), who doesn't add a dose of mischief to their daily vitamins.

I once had a teacher who, as far as I could tell, had no sense of humor.

Oh, she was worthy. Worth indeed. Actually, truthfully, she is a wonderful person.

But to see her aspire to crack wise is a painful thing.

And what about fun?

What about racing through the sand, dashing into the water together, silly puns and laughter that does nothing to enrich the future, but much to lighten the moment?

What about the joy that children seem to channel so easily, but that appears to elude adults?

I am a performance artist -- I think that many writers are.  There are lots of us who want to be seen and heard, even if it's in character. Sometimes that urge to be meaningful can get in the way of being relaxed, open, able to throw caution to the winds.

So what if someone thinks you are being an idiot as you throw yourself on the grass or burst out singing?

It's your life.

Do you want to say, near the end, that glee eluded you?

I don't happen to believe that healthy spontaneity is only for the chronologically youthful.

We just mistake it for the disinhibition that comes with booze, or drugs, a steady diet of porn, or some other form of escapism.

Watch out for me as you drive up that hill. I might be twiling.

But shedding the skin of the sober adult doesn't have to be done solo.

Joy for two.

Now THERE's a thought.