It’s taboo. It’s frowned upon, and more often than not over-romanticized. Younger women and older men go together like cashmere and lambskin leather. They just fit.
Younger men and older women on the other hand have a social fit a little more akin to vinyl pants clinging to sweaty thighs – not so comfortable.
But, my darlings, for the single woman, younger men have their place. I’m not talking a few years younger. No dears, that’s nothing. I’m talking a decade or more.
This weekend I did a little experiment. Something to push me out of my comfort zone, and away from the unrelenting pace of all-work-and-no-play. Yes, I succumbed to a much younger man’s invitation. I know, I know, what on earth was I possibly thinking? Stamina perhaps? A wild romp through the bed linens? Perhaps some nostalgia for the beautiful-taught young bodies that we all once had?
No, it was none of that really.
It was boredom. Sheer, I’ve-gotta-take-a-break-from-this-all-work-and-no-play year.
After having been romanced by lovely, cultured older men, I feet it is my humanitarian duty to ‘pay it forward’, and tutor the occasional enthusiastic young gentleman. There’s nothing sexier than learning something new from a lover, and most younger men don’t have much to offer in this department.
As a woman-of-a-certain-age, I finally understand why men have so long coveted younger women. Yes, it could be their hot bodies, but most likely, it’s the doe-eyed, breathless, the-world-is-my-oyster attitude. It’s charming to be around, and reminds us that the joyful essence of our youth has no expiration date.
What they do offer is a reminder that life is fun and fresh and new. They offer us a reminder about how far we’ve come, and how thankful we are not to have to do it all over again. A simple (pun intended) chat over a glass of wine can bring a smile, a little tweak to our self-image that serves as a reminder of how much fun we are.
What happens when you’ve lost your joy? Maybe your heart has been broken (again). Perhaps you’ve been managing your home life, and you’ve forgotten how to play? You may have cultivated a deep inner peace, a wonderful meditation/prayer practice, a balanced harmonious way of showing up in the world….but what is life without unbridled joy, deep belly laughs, and the occasional throwing it all to the wind and living, not just peacefully, but fully in the present moment?
Although my lovely little ‘French Enfant’ is not the love of my life, he reminded me that there is silliness, fun and humour out there still.
Your laugh may be buried, but it’s still there my sweet peach…somewhere.
I can hear all of the skeptics out there cynically muttering, “What about Men’s day?”
I’m sorry gentlemen, but my tissues are for the next generation of men who have to reconsider gender roles as women surpass them in education, professional accomplishment and financial independence.
Men’s day, at least from my North American, First world perspective, has been happening every day since the colonies were established. Alas, the pendulum is indeed swinging my darlings, in ways as interesting and multi-faceted as Cole Porter lyrics.
I could site facts and numbers about women still being under-paid, under-hired, and over worked. But I’m not going to do that. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone who still needs convincing.
Today I want to talk about the women in my life, of my generation who blossomed into full-blown ‘womanhood’ during a time when having it all was the ideal.
Not only were we pressured to pursue professional careers, we are still expected to maintain beautiful homes, cook nutritious meals, and mother in an overbearing and perfect way.
Oh, not to mention, in certain circles, we’re still expected to hunt down and trap that elusive breed of male who have educations and incomes better than our own. Are you serious???
My own neurosis of not being a stay at home mother and creating the illusion of the perfect Martha Stewart home versus my guilt over not contributing significantly in a financial way to the family, ruined my marriage. Well, that and a few other things.
I am one of very few women whom I know who are happily single and don’t feel pressure to bake cupcakes for the school/sports/band bake sale that look like something Marie Antoinette ordered.
My independence and devil-may-care attitude came at a high psychological price. For years I battled with guilt, and the seemingly two diabolically opposed personas fighting for air time.
Women often compare themselves to one another; their men, their children, their waistlines, and their mortgages. For many years in my twenties and very early thirties I felt like a failure.
Not only did I not have a husband, but I was divorced. Imagine that horror my little sweets! I rented instead of being mortgaged to the neck, and I barely made enough money to cover my bills.
Some time between then and now, I had a wonderful epiphany in my sweet-pink-girlie-soul. It may have been brought on by champagne bliss and the detailed attention of skilled lovers, but it was an epiphany nonetheless; I am educated. Well educated, with a professional designation, and I don’t have to check in with anyone before I travel, spend or save money. I’m not tied to a house with windows that need changing, a roof that’s leaking, or worse yet, a pot-bellied man sitting on my couch every night wearing sweatsocks ( I have a particular aversion to men who wear anything white below the belt) .
When I look at the women who are my contemporaries, for the most part, they are all juggling the ‘You Can Have It All and SHOULD Have It All” culture that our bra burning aunties worked so damned hard for.
The notion that, ” I must be married have a family, run a perfect household, be mortgaged to the hilt, and pay half the bills” really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be now that we’re pushing 40. Buh-arf.
So, this women’s day, I send out love and blessings to the women of my generation who are just now second guessing the insidious pressure our society has placed on us to ‘have it all’.
My best friends are women. If any of them came to me and said, “Duchess ( I like to be called that sometimes, especially when I’ve had a few drinky-poos), I need your help.” I would help.
Not only would I help, I’d recruit my bevy of strong, independent, beautiful friends, and they would help too.
We are lucky to be ‘First World Women’, and should never take for granted the basic human rights so many women around the world die for every day. We ought also to rejoice in our freedom and the opportunities we have.
So, on this International Womens’ Day, women of my generation, don’t forget you are loved, and we totally ‘get‘ you.
“Your mother took care of everything.” That’s what the girl in the sleek red spa t-shirt and black spandex capri pants said to me yesterday morning upon my arrival at the spa. She said it as if it were absolutely normal. Like it was a sentence a woman hears every day.
In my case, and in the case of many other women, having a ‘mother’ who took care of everything is but a fairytale idea, right up there with prince charming, and the tooth fairy.
For women who have been orphaned by their mother, either through death, separation or circumstance, the absence of a real mother figure can be a painful space that gets revisited time and again as we make our way through various rights of passage.
In my life I have been fortunate enough to find women who have been there for me. During childbirth, my mother-in-law and grandmother. Divorce – my aunt. Mothering my own child, I cherished and held tightly to the advice of my old-school family physician – trust your instinct, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
I parented fiercely, the only way I knew how. The only way that I knew how to show my child a mother’s love, and the lengths I would go to nurture and protect him. Something that I sadly lacked during my own youth and childhood, but had reinforced by the women that I have met and befriended.
So yesterday, as I turned my back to the woman at the counter, who was likely staring at my back, thinking, “Wow, that woman has a great mom.”, I thought to myself, “Yah. Yah, in fact I do have a great mom. The one that I was meant to find after so many years of feeling abandoned.”
If you were raised in an atmosphere that has made you turn inward, and lose trust in the women around you (I was raised to believe you didn’t get too close to other women because they’d steal your man), open yourself up to the possibility that older women are great teachers, and younger women are hungry for female mentors.
Our romantic relationships flounder, our bodies change, our desires and the things that make us happy morph with time. It has been the older, wiser women in my life who have helped me understand, not feel crazy, and enjoy this ride we call womanhood. The younger ones remind me of the spitfire I used to be, and make me wonder at the more subdued version of my younger self whom I have become.
Being a motherless daughter has its obvious drawbacks, but there are benefits too. You get to choose your mothers and form healthy bonds with strong, wise women who are more than willing to light the path.
Open yourself to the possibilities that are presented to you. I wish you all the joy of having incredible ‘mothers’!
Journal Entry April 16, 2012…in a sun stroked, Havana libre analgesia haze, I wrote my final thoughts.
Today, I serendipitously made the acquaintance of a much older Canadian gentleman. We met poolside as the sun began to climb in the Cuban sky, turning it a brilliant blend of amber, mauve and pink.
This gentleman had been out for his morning run, and I was getting ready for mine. In an effort not to go back and wake his wife too early, he engaged me in conversation.
Sizing him up quickly before our conversation started I assumed he was athletic, married, and well-employed. I was right on those three counts. I had not, however, pegged him as the stereotypical pig who travels to poor, foreign countries to take advantage of their women. As it turned out, he was married to a woman my age (he was old enough to be my grandfather).
As he spoke, I had a flashback. A few years ago I stood agog on a street in Camaguay, witnessing the scene of a newly married couple. It was a very young woman having been wed to another, much older Canadian gentleman. The bride was weeping, while her mother shoved her off to a classic Cuban car, and her new husband groped under her bright dress. Ugh.
As it turns out, the gentleman I was speaking to was in the December of his life and had married his May bride three years earlier. He had not since managed to import his souvenir/care-giver/housekeeper into Canada and as a result travelled to visit every six months.
I let him ramble on and on about the reasons why he chose to marry a Cuban woman. He said that she understood him because of the politics of their native countries (originally he was from a communist country). As a result, she had been well-educated in a communist system and was a wonderful and intelligent companion. “And,” I wanted to say, ” a much better fuck than an eighty year old“.
Later on today, as I painted my toes, taking shelter in the shade of my porch, I caught sight of their backs, walking up the hill from my gazebo. From that vantage point, they were fairly unremarkable. Benign. But later tonight, the truth was told from a different doorway.
As I munched away on fresh-from-the-sea lobster , in walked a very overdressed woman in a form-fitting black satin cocktail dress. The dress had rosettes along the entire length of each wide, shoulder strap and had been paired with stiletto heels. “Satin,” I thought to myself, “in this heat? Is she loco?”.
She was looking down one side of the restaurant as if she were lost. It wasn’t just that she was over-dressed that made me take a second look, it was because, although she wasn’t thin by any stretch of the imagination, the dress fit perfectly and flattered every curve. It was not a cheap item of clothing that she was wearing, nor were her shoes.
This woman’s hair was twisted in a small knot on the top of her head, and she had applied enough make-up to make my pores weep just thinking about it. She was Cuban, and likely looking for the wedding party that had come through and was settled in the courtyard, I thought to myself as I nodded to the waiter who was pouring more wine into our glasses.
Wrong again. On queue, in walks Mr. Canadian Pervert. He was wearing a white and black short-sleeved shirt with a yoked collar. His shoes were actually short boots with a heel. You know, the kind that went the way of Saturday Night Fever and unprotected sex. His pants were black and tight enough that I had an unwelcome image in my mind of how thick his 80-year-old trouser snake might be. I drank deeply from my wine glass hoping the booze would soothe my traumatized imagination.
The old pervert placed his gnarled, arthritic hand on the black-dressed-beauty’s back, looked around to see who was watching him claim his property, caught my eye, winked, and then guided his wife (hand still on her back) to their table. I squirmed thinking of how uncomfortable the weight of that hand must have felt against the sweaty satin. I took another drink and motioned the waiter back for a top-up.
Flashback to earlier this morning; Mr.Canadian Pervert had really worked at convincing me of his status as a respectable gentleman. Was it his fault that I had made assumptions about his personal integrity? Should I have been alerted to his perversion by the trifecta mention of how exercise increases testosterone levels and how important testosterone is to maintain as a man ages?
Perhaps I should adjust my judgement of the matrimonial transaction that has taken place between these two consenting adults.
Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe they are really in love, or maybe they’re just both realistic about the benefits and drawbacks of the currency they offer one another.
Perhaps this marriage left me feeling like it was a lop-sided bargain in favour of the man. Or maybe, in my heart of hearts I really wish that I could meet an intelligent, fit, man who could protect me as I made my way to a table in a restaurant, wearing fine clothing that he had chosen and paid for?
Nope. Not my style. But I felt terrible judging this other woman who I didn’t even know. Hell, maybe she could tolerate his sweaty old body pumping away on hers for a few nights a year in exchange for regular injections of money into her Cuban purse. I hope for her sake that she has a real lover somewhere out there in this humid and sensual country, keeping romancesex love alive for her.
As I sat at my table, enjoying the company of my age-appropriate and companion, eating the food that I paid for and ordered for myself , I knew, from the inside out, from the root of who I am, that I will never be anything but the gale, nor do I want to be any other way.
Journal Entry April 21, 2012; As I portered my own bags at the airport, I watched Mr. Canadian Pervert usher his bride of three years into a cab, with bag upon bag of clothing and shoes and other ‘stuff’ he had purchased for her.
At the airport, I sidled up to Mr. Canadian Pervert, slid my hand way up his saggy thigh, brushed my soft lips across the wrinkled skin behind his ear and cooed about a Michael Kors dress that had my name all over it. Not.