The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 November 2005

Fatuous Flashback 6

What did I know? I was just turning forty-eight:

The half-a-century mark obviously means different things to different people, but it always seems to be some kind of threshold, something that must be traversed in order to get to whatever is on the other side. According to the standard stereotype, women are supposed to take fifty badly, what with the threat of menopause and the presumed deterioration of one's appearance, as though some cosmic force notes the time and date, throws a hidden switch, and suddenly they go from looking like Mariah Carey to looking like Marvin Kalb. This is, of course, palpably untrue. (Two words: Sophia Loren.) More to the point, women I've talked to — contrary to popular belief, I have actually talked to women at some point in my life — are just as likely to be relieved when all that tedious menstrual business is over and done with, and I don't know anyone who's had a hysterectomy and says she regrets it.

Men, of course, don't get old and crone-like; we become, um, "distinguished-looking". Well, maybe. I figure seven times out of ten I can be distinguished from an abandoned Taliban tent, but that would hardly seem to qualify. And the stereotype that plays here is that at fifty, we suddenly become irresistible to women of twenty-five who find men of their age shallow and callow and blah. This also is a crock, and not just because women have found me highly resistible at any age; one of the essential male drives, it is said, is to preserve adolescence past all understanding, and not everyone who has turned 50 has quite given up on this quest. (Two words: Corvette Z06.) Women (as distinguished from girls) are likely to find sixteen-year-olds of any age dislikable. And personally, I found my adolescence so generally excruciating, a few notable exceptions notwithstanding, that I didn't want it to last as long as it did.

(From Vent #268, 9 November 2001.)

Posted at 5:34 AM to Greatest Hits