The Mysterious Effects of Ageing
Why have my tastes changed as I’ve grown older?
I’m confronted with my teenage daughter’s I don’t get it face so often that I’ve started to think about the choices I make as a middle-aged woman and how they differ from those I made when I was younger, and why.
Some I can explain easily, others, not so much.
A case in point was the fifteen-year-old’s confusion when I wanted to go to The Ideal Home Show Christmas event instead of battling with the Christmas shoppers on Oxford Street. Myself and my oldest friend were delighted to shop in the warm, confined space of Olympia, touring the carefully set-out stalls. It was vast, but finite.
There were plenty of clean toilets, food and drink available and opportunities for a nice sit down. We even had a ten-minute neck and shoulder massage mid-shop. What’s not to like?
Do you really fancy my dad?
‘Do you really fancy my dad?’ was another question from the teen, in the same tone she uses when she asks if we genuinely want to go to sleep at ten pm.
The answer (to both) is yes.
But why do I fancy a fifty-three-year-old bloke? The younger me would have been as confuddled as my daughter. I remember when a university friend had an affair with a forty-year-old. All we wanted to know was whether ‘it’ was wrinkly. Now, here I am, perfectly happy to snog a man more than half a century old. What’s that all about?
The fancying my husband is not exactly a choice, but it’s convenient in many ways. One, because divorce looks like hard work, and two, if I was still attracted to boys the same age as I was at fifteen, I’d have to hand myself in to the police.
I asked the internet why our attractions age with us and was astonished by the lack of information. If I wanted to know why young women fancy older men (shag or dad) there’s plenty to read. If I was examining why older men go for younger women, or, indeed, why they shouldn’t, I could read articles all day (or write my own…)
It seems the question of why a woman should be attracted to a man of a similar age is not a matter for today’s internet. It’s busy with other, less salubrious things.
It’s probably because the world wide web doesn’t care why I used to fancy John Taylor from Duran Duran, but if I met the ‘80’s version of him now, I’d want to offer him a chocolate digestive and ask him if all that leather chaffed, rather than unbuttoning his frilly shirt and running a finger across his clavicle.
If I met him at the age he is now though, I imagine my hot flush would have nothing to do with the menopause. The reflex (flet-flet-flet-flex) would be automatic, but I don’t know why.
The changes to activity-preferences are easier to explain.
Where I would once stand in a noisy pub all evening, I now want a chair with a back and an atmosphere quiet enough to hear what my companions are saying. Would it be smug or delusional to suggest that what we have to say now is more worthy of listening to than the drunken babbling of our twenty-something selves? Probably a little bit of both.
Shopping in a place with loos and back-rubs, where the stalls are mapped out and the roof keeps the drizzle off, is even better than the sparkling lights of Carnaby street. I’ll still go and see the pretty central London decorations, but when my gifts are all wrapped and under the tree, so I’m not trying to take in the beauty whilst my fingers are severed from my hands by the weight of too many bags.
And when I go on this trip, or offer John Taylor the confectionary of his choice, it will be with bright eyes following a good night’s sleep.
I will continue to go to bed at ten because I like it, and maybe that’s the answers to all of the questions I’m asking here.
I’m turning fifty, so I’m old enough to know what I like, and I like what I know. And if that happens to be old men, so be it.
Feature Photo by Buzz Anderson on Unsplash