SIX WEEKS OF 16 HOUR DAYS (AND COUNTING). I REALLY DIDN’T EXPECT OLD AGE TO BE QUITE LIKE THIS. AND I’M ENJOYING IT (OR HAVE FLIPPED).
When I think of old age, I rarely think of myself having achieved that august status—unless I’m looking in the mirror (and I avoid mirrors as much as possible—you never quite know who will walk through them).
My mental model of what old age looks like was formed when I was about five (and clearly needs modifying). I tend to think of my grandmother and various minder aunts who looked after me when I was very young—and my mother wanted space (which was for most of the time). I can’t entirely blame her. Mother liked men and they took up a lot of time. Well, there were a lot of men. Numerous lovers, three husbands and eleven more children resulted. She died a countess since the third was a Polish count. I was the eldest of twelve. Sadly, more than a few of my siblings have have died before their time.
All of these wonderful minder women (much loved by me) would have been in their late forties and early fifties at the time—and they certainly put in long days (though not by my standards)—but the more relevant point is that they thought of themselves as old—and dressed, carried themselves, and generally acted accordingly. Being old had physical and mental characteristics, of course—but, above all, it was very much a mindset—and a pattern of behavior.
Sex was never discussed. Sex appeal was never mentioned. They talked a great deal about gardening, cooking, and horse racing—in reverse order. I had both aunts and great aunts who were fanatical about horses, could judge form with frightening accuracy—and made bookies quake. All made money consistently from such gambling. They would chuckle as they won. Betting on the horses was their thing, and they were damn good at it. In fact, my Aunt Fanny’s husband, Uncle Cecil, had been a horse trainer of note.
My grandmother ‘s posture was not helped by her suffering from crippling arthritis and one of the two aunts in question was plump (to put it mildly—though cuddly) and constrained by various aches and pains. Their peers seemed to be no different. They wore hats, dead foxes (I kid you not) around their necks, tweeds, and sensible stockings together with practical shoes.
Their male equivalents were not radically different—except that they wore ties instead of dead foxes—and had leather patches on their jackets.
Both sexes largely smoked—and quite heavily at that—though the men seemed to prefer pipes. I love the smell of pipe tobacco to this day. The women drank sherry and the men whisky. One way or another, they all looked pretty lived-in by their fifties and were visibly old by the decade after that. They had cause, of course. They had all been through two World Wars, and the Troubles in Ireland (the 1916 uprising, the guerilla way that followed—and then the Irish civil war that followed that). And my grandmother’s relationship with my mother was, arguably, worse than all three.
About the only thing my grandmother and mother had in common was that they were both 78 when they died.
I guess—insofar as I thought about it, which wasn’t much—I expected to follow a broadly similar pattern. True, I did expect to write on after reaching retirement age—but not for more than a few hours a day. After that, I figured that lifting a few glasses of wine would keep me adequately occupied—and exercised.
The reality has turned out to be entirely different. Having decided to make some fairly drastic changes in my life back in mid 2010, I now find I have turned my life upside down—and despite my April accident—am feeling dynamic, entrepreneurial, energetic, creative—and decidedly interested in the opposite sex. It seems to be mutual and is not confined to women of a similar age. Who knew?
I think I’ll keep the rest for my memoirs (which I am starting shortly). I’ll merely observe that there are a truly remarkable number of attractive women in and around Seattle, and that women’s sex drive (virtually regardless of age) is way underestimated by we males. Way, way, underestimated. Damned if I know why we studied the classics, but were deprived of such vital knowledge.
I was expensively—but inadequately—educated. Still, perhaps those who ran my boarding school had some excuse for skating over the finer details of the desires of the fair sex. They were Benedictine monks—bound by their vows of celibacy.
Someone should write about this stuff.
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