Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A partial response to thoughts on middle aged sex appeal by Lance Mannion

I read this blog the other day and I laughed as the humour speaks to me and probably many other men, thank you Mr. Mannion for an enjoyable read on a gray cloudy day. You can find the blog at this Lance Mannion

But for now there’s also the problem of that hormone drop which has the effect of making women of a certain age less interested in sex (at least for a certain key number of years) and one of the things that makes a person interested in having sex with another person is that person’s interest in having sex.

But the same thing does happen to men. That certain age does arrive, and sooner than the men themselves know.

I agree, as a boomer, I am sure that I did not start to understand myself until I was well passed my prime and I also don't think men are ready to admit to this at any age. I think the Mac Davis song Hard to be Humble says a lot about where some men think they want to rate.

Sooner than they are ready to admit, at any rate.

Actually, I think a lot of women admit to it too soon, that they underestimate the allure of a good figure, a youthful attitude, and a sparkling personality, but that’s another post, and probably one I don’t have the courage to write, but back to men.
Lance, you are, I think partially right, in that both men and women, do underestimate the allures you mention, but as a boomer, I think our definitions of what makes a good figure has changed as has my definitions of youthful attitude and sparkling personality. My "maturity" may come into play, or maybe just my failing eyesight.

A trouble people have adjusting to getting older is that bodies don’t age all of a piece. The parts of us that make us desirable age faster than the parts of us that make us desire.  Our spirits and personalities do age and they age in response to the aging of our bodies, and you would think that a man who knows he can’t vault parking meters anymore would know he can’t do other things either. But as other parts of our psyches decline, one thing seems to grow stronger. Our vanity.

Many of us have heard the quote "Vanity, thy name is woman" and attribute it to William Shakespeare. What he actually wrote was: “Frailty, thy name is woman”, which Hamlet said about the marriage of his mother, Queen Gertrude, to her husband’s brother Claudius only a month after the King had passed away. Over the years the quote changed to the quote we hear today. Maybe it was probably created by some editor trying to think of a good title, a pun really, for his piece on why women are obsessed with looking young.

That certain age arrives. The hormone levels drop. The bald spot expands, the wrinkles deepen, the jeans start hanging slack in the rear. And Vanity says, Nah!

Vanity says, It’s not happening or if it is it doesn’t matter or if it does matter, it matters generally, but not to a stud like you.

Vanity says, And anyway, you deserve one last chance.

And vanity isn’t always talking about sex.

I agree that this isn’t just an issue women face. Men are equally as temperamental about their body image and will seek unusual and even extreme methods. Today men are just as likely to get plastic surgery as women. The field of employable men grows as new members are entering the job market at younger ages and the older members are staying on the market longer. It isn’t unusual for men to get liposuction, eye and chin lifts, and hair implants. All this for the appearance of youth. All this for the ability to say, “I have the experience and I look fit enough to use it.” Beyond the superficial though, men are also want to be perceived as sexually whole and functional.

It’s just that in this case that’s what I’m talking about.

Vanity conquers some men right way and with obvious sad results. They buy the convertible. They do the comb-over or the equivalent, applying Rograine, shaving the whole head, buying the rug, or going in for plugs. They start thinking that biochemically induced four hour erections are what nature intended.

They might as well wear signs. “I Am One of Those Middle-Aged Men.”
In my 40's and 50's I watched as many of my friends went through this stage, I was amazed at the number of ways that my colleagues could make fools of themselves, what surprised me is that the women in their lives never told them.

But for other men, Vanity lies in wait. It sits back, reading a newspaper or surfing the web, patiently, knowing that the moment of weakness will come when the man in question, whom Vanity has been indulging with the foolish idea that he will never be one of those middle-aged men is suddenly shaken by the realization that he misses going to the beach with Cameron Diaz lookalikes and that an older, dumpier, grayer, dweebier man like Mark Souder has been enjoying the company of a cute Hoosier hausfrau who looks good in, and probably out of, her Christmas sweaters. And when that moment arrives Vanity puts aside its paper, sets down its iPad, steps up and throws a friendly arm around the poor, disappointed, and self-loathing man’s slumping shoulders and says, Why not you too?

The issue here, then, Nance, and now I’m addressing you as a pal and not just as a rhetorical device, isn’t whether or not I’d give in to temptation and why I’d be such an old fool.

I don’t know.
The issue is that I want to know.

One way or the other.

I want the temptation.

More humiliating to admit. I still expect the temptation.
The disappointing point is that I failed in my resolve.
I am one of those middle-aged men.

But the good news is that you will outgrow this wish and realize that there is a  rich tapestry of life that surrounds you and keeps you young without being foolish. Maintain your sense of humour, laugh, and enjoy the freedom that being young means and you will never one of those middle aged men, you will be one of those middle aged boomers who is well on the way to becoming a boomer not a senior.

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