Byline: Anne Gildea
I'm having a pint with a friend and her husband, and suddenly she's in matchmaker mode. 'You should think about older men,' she says. 'Actually, we know a nice guy.'
She describes the chap, tells me a bit about him, mentions his name. 'But he's dead,' her husband chips in. 'Oh yeah, sorry,' she says, 'I forgot, we were at his funeral a while back.'
Forgive me, I know that funerals are no laughing matter, but I'm still chuckling about that exchange. It was the notion that they were suggesting someone for me who was so old, he was dead already. The idea that they were trying to instigate that most life-enhancing of emotions -- love -- but they were thwarted by that most contrary of conditions -- death. The fact I'm of an age where dating 'an older man' evokes thoughts of strolling, hand on Zimmer frame, along a moonlit hospice balcony; slap-up romantic meals where I order lobster and he orders intravenous; conversations in which he says, 'You're like a light at the end of a tunnel,' and I don't know whether it's a compliment or, 'Goodbye, see you on the other side.'
It's the suggestion of dates involving ouija boards and conversations involving clairvoyants rather than telephones, and the fact that if there's going to be an 'our song', it would have to be that 1970s hit that goes: 'Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me'. Actually, there's a new title for a category of woman who dates outside her age group: 'coffin raider' -- as opposed to 'cradle robber'.
Seriously, if older women who tend to go for younger men are 'cougars', what's the equivalent term for the older ladies who opt for the even older chaps? Bats, perhaps? Speaking of 'cougars', I hate the term. It's fine for wild cats, horrible when applied to wild women. I had a run-in with it recently. I was doing an advertising voiceover. The script required a 'sexy' read. (It was for sandwiches -- Jesus, is there nothing that sex won't sell these days?) The studio technician, explaining what was required, said, 'Give it a cougar vibe.'
He could have just said 'seductive'.
Instead he used the term that also implies 'older woman'. He might just as well have said, 'Give it an older-lady-being-seductive vibe, seeing as you are, to my eyes, an Older Lady.'
Ah, he was only a twentysomething young buck; he knew no better. The eejit. Thing is (getting all sniffy about it), I'm not attracted to men according to their age. They might be younger, older or the same, but surely what's important is that soul connection; that indefinable je ne sais quoi; that elusive spark that generates the electricity of attraction between two human entities, that st r ikes of its own accord any time any place, transcending the mere details of age, experience and position in life -- elevating you, out of the blue, to the astonishing possibility of Love. …