Monday, December 7, 2009

In Praise of Older Women (In Contempt of Younger Men) [January 31, 2007]

31 January 2007 |

Beauty changes as you get older. A lot of the little blonde hotties I know would have got my private parts all engorged with blood (yet another self-reference, you see — my 2002 song Love Lumbered In begins, “You get my private parts all engorged with blood,” which I prefer to imagine to be that rarest thing in Western popular music, a unique expression of lust) do nothing at all for me. I can see the small imperfections in their momentarily taut, unlined faces, and anticipate how the years will amplify them. I can’t recall the last time the cover of any of the so-called bloke’s magazines inspired me to do anything other than snort with derision. And I will admit that seeing GQ cover stories on the likes of Lindsay fucking Lohan takes just a wee bit of the sting out of the fact that their media darling editor, could never be troubled to respond to any of the many query letters I sent him, even when they contained mentions of mutual acquaintances who’d encouraged me to invoke them. Would I want to write for a men’s magazine that would put a 20-year-old dimwit with implants on its cover? (Yes, you’re quite right: of course I would.)

Truth be told, I’ve come to feel more and more lately that you can’t accurately judge the beauty of a woman much younger than 40, before which nature grants a whole raft of concessions. The beauty of a beautiful woman over 40 seems more deserved somehow, more genuine.

I’ve come to understand further that it isn’t necessarily self-neglect that ruins the physiques of men in late middle age. Take me (please!). The mind is willing, to the tune of my going to the gym six days a week, but the body resists. After a year on the Nautilus machines, I recently began to work with free weights, and oh, what a price I paid, feeling as though a spike were being driven into my right shoulder, the one so precociously arthritic as to have to be surgically replaced in 1995. So it’s back to the machines, though everyone’s agreed that they make for a much less gorgeous physique. Ditto with running. God, how I used to love it when I lived in West Hollywood and Santa Monica; there’s absolutely no antidote to depression to match it. But for me to run at my present advanced age would be to ask to feel as though the nail were being driven into my left knee or ankle, both operated on so fruitlessly a couple of years after my stainless steel shoulder was installed.

During my short flirtation with free weights, don’t imagine I failed to notice how the lips of the gym’s 24-year-old regulars curled with disdain at the sight of how little I was lifting. They clearly feel, as I used to, that becoming middleaged or older is what happens to the unforgivably uncool. I get some small satisfaction from the realisation that the sexpots at my junior high school who didn’t know I was alive are all close to 60 themselves now, but none from the realisation that that the sneering 24-year-olds at the gym will one day have arthritis, male pattern baldness, and receding gums of their own. I won’t be around to see it, you see, and doesn’t the world begin and end with Johnny?

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