Bryan Jones' Diary - the ramblings of a menopausal man
Is there a male menopause? As a man in his mid-50s, I have recently become aware of getting older. Increasing age has had a curious effect on my psyche. I am noticing, on an almost daily basis, that I am thinking, feeling and behaving in ways that are starkly different from my youth and earlier adulthood. I will share these experiences on this blog and hope others will join me in describing their own age-related quirks and oddities. I can't be the only one at this "funny age", can I??
I’m good at some things. My Sunday roast propels fellow
diners into orgasmic rapture, I’m a more-than-decent public speaker, and the
speed of my mental arithmetic makes Sheldon appear mathematically challenged.
Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of one’s weaknesses – in the words of
Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, ‘A man’s got to know his limitations’.
So here is a list of my limitations. And I’m not referring
to the ‘I’m-not-quite-as-strong-at’ sort of deficiencies – no sirree – these
are activities where I demonstrate such stunning incompetence that onlookers
assume parts of my brain have gone walkabouts.
Opening cereal boxes
Mrs Jones begs me to ask for her
help when opening breakfast cereals. By the time I’ve prised off the cellophane
wrap from my Kellogg’s cornflakes, I’m in no mood to explore the subtleties of
the cardboard re-fastening device on the top of the box. Instead, I assault it
from the flank, penetrating it with a forefinger and tearing it open. For its
remaining shelf life, it sits bloated with its inners exposed, as if opened by a
stick of dynamite.
I love listening to popular
music, but when it comes to singing I’m tone deaf. When I let fly in the shower
with my rendition of the Eagles’s Lying
Eyes, Mrs Jones cringes, the local authority sees a sharp rise in reported
incidents of noise pollution, and the nightingales self-destruct. My attempts
at the high notes have even been known to interfere with my neighbours’ Wi-Fi
Men are expected to shine in the
Do-it-yourself department, delighting their ladies with displays of competence
around the home and garden. Not this bloke; I’m utterly useless. I’ve no idea
how to rewire a plug (all those colours are so confusing), the prospect of
putting up a curtain rail causes me sleepless nights, and my sole contribution
to assembling a flat-pack wardrobe from Ikea is checking we’ve received the
correct number of nuts and bolts (as I’ve said, I’m great at counting).
My level of ineptitude reached a
humiliating high last week. Armed with my brand new hedge trimmer, I strutted
into the front garden to prune the bushes. Within ten seconds, I was left
holding an impotent machine with a limp six-inches of wire dangling; yep, I’d
inadvertently cut through the electric cord and short-circuited the house.
For 30 years, the task of wrapping
Christmas and birthday gifts has usually defaulted to Mrs Jones. She excels at
it. Her dressed parcels always display crisp, symmetrical edges, with a
skin-tight paper covering, minimal sticky tape, and a decorative bow.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t seem
right to ask Mrs Jones to wrap my gifts to her (although I have considered this
option) and I’ve no choice but to do it myself. On these rare occasions, the
end product looks as if it presented a moving target, one I didn’t quite catch
up with. Excess wrapping paper loiters at each end of the parcel, forming
unsightly bulges, and the (half-a-roll of) sticky tape appears to have been
applied via a scatter gun with each piece creased and misshapen.
Drawing and artwork
I can recall sitting in an art
lesson as a child and the teacher leaning over my shoulder and whispering, ‘You’re
bloody useless, Jones’. That man was a shrewd judge. If I’m denied the use of
words, I’m void of all creativity. My attempts at drawing resemble the
scribblings of a three-year-old and, if it’s not painting by numbers, the colouring
stuff remains in the box.
When God was giving out internal
radars, he must have skipped my name. Either that or he had a sense of humour,
and relished the prospect of me groping around the earth in a permanent state
of spatial confusion. My sense of direction is dreadful. In a strange town I
can enter a building and, when I exit, I often fail to recall which direction I
approached from. Many hours have been wasted trying to find my parked the car.
And when driving to a specified destination I’ve sometimes, after hours of
futile circling, given up and headed for home - that is, of course, if I can find it.
Thank goodness for the greatest
invention of our time: satellite navigation.
Does anyone else care to disclose
My haemorrhoids are misbehaving again. After completing my
morning evacuation, the bathroom porcelain resembles the aftermath of the siege
of Leningrad, with sufficient of the red stuff to supply the national blood
bank for the next decade. So, reluctantly, I decided to see my doctor.
As per the formal procedure, I rang the health centre at
8.00 am to request an appointment. After noting my name and date of birth, the
receptionist found me a slot later that morning. But the conversation was not
‘I’m now obliged to ask this,’ she said, followed by a short
pause. ‘What is the problem that you want to see the doctor about?’
Somewhat taken aback by the intrusiveness of the question, a
range of retorts pushed into my mind:
I’ve ruptured my
foreskin while engaged in athletic love-making;
I’m farting so much
I’m a fire risk when near a naked flame;
I tried on my wife’s
bra and the metal wire from the left cup has punctured my lung;
are hanging so low, when I sit on the toilet they plunge into the water like
But I resisted the temptation and, instead, told the truth.
‘I’m bleeding from the arse-hole.’
‘Oh … right … sorry,’ she mumbled. ‘I’m told that I must
ask, but it seems … it feels a bit…’
‘It’s OK, no worries,’ I said, starting to feel sorry for the
As I sat in the doctor’s waiting room two hours later,
listening for my name to be called, I sensed eyes on me. When I glanced up,
there were three female receptionists behind the glass talking and giggling to
one another. I wondered which of the trio I’d spoken to earlier on the phone.
Was it the young blonde lass, barely out of her teens; her inexperience might
have been responsible for the awkwardness? Or was it the older, worldly-wise woman in the
middle of the threesome, who seemed to be in charge? Maybe it was the smirking
receptionist on the end, whose gaze was fixed in my direction?
And what were they discussing? The weather? What each was
planning to eat for lunch? Or whether I was the bloke with rivulets of blood
trickling down the crack of his arse? When I arose to see the doctor, I
imagined them checking my waiting-room seat for stains.
But I subsequently realised that all my speculations were
likely to be groundless. As I was leaving the doctor’s surgery, I overheard
another patient - an old lady - standing at the reception window.
‘I need a follow-up appointment with the doctor,’ she
announced. ‘I have to let him know whether I’m still leaking yellow goo out of
Clearly, the receptionists hear more spectacular stories
Photo courtesy of pixtawan
‘On your way home, will you stop off at the supermarket for
some salad stuff?’ asked Mrs Jones.
My car was in for its annual service so I took the call on
my mobile while sitting in the garage waiting area. ‘Yes, sure. What items do
‘Oh, the usual: lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and red onions.’
Two hours later I returned home and deposited the contents
of my supermarket bag onto the kitchen worktop. Mrs Jones exhaled – audibly –
and I detected a roll of the eyes followed by an implosion of her cheeks which,
after 36 years together, I knew could mean only one thing: I’d cocked up, big
Failure to live up to a wife’s expectation typically means
that a man is subjected to a circuitous form of interrogation that is intended
to shame and humiliate.
‘Where’s the cucumber?’ she asked, while her foot tapped on
the tiled floor, as if delivering a countdown to the moment of my execution.
‘There,’ I said, pointing to the large, cylindrical item in
front of us.
‘What makes you think that’s a cucumber?’
‘Well, it looks like a cucumber; it’s dark green, shiny and …
‘It’s much bigger than any phallus I recognise,’ she said,
now relishing the role of the strident prosecutor. ‘That is not a cucumber.’
‘What is it then?’
‘It’s a courgette.’
‘A courgette. A marrow-like vegetable, sometimes referred to
as a zucchini.’
‘It looks like a cucumber, so how was I supposed to know?’
‘Maybe the sign over the box in the supermarket that read,
COURGETTES, might have given you a clue.’
Mrs Jones, savouring the taste of blood, broadened her
onslaught. The tomatoes were insufficiently ripe, the onions partly rotten, and
the lettuce much too big and shabby. (I must admit the lettuce resembled the
severed, semi-decomposed head of an obese gladiator. Although it could have
been worse; I almost brought home a cabbage).
And to add to my pain, I now recall that I don’t like the
taste of courgettes. Something tells me they will be served up with every meal
for a week.
Life can be difficult for older people. In particular, advancing
years and technology can be a discomforting mix, as I recently discovered when
trying to teach my 85-year-old father how to use a cash dispenser.
Throughout his life, my lovely dad has always drawn his
money from the local post office and, if paying his bills by cash is not an
option, he has always chosen to write a cheque. Credit and debit cards are alien to him. Alas, all the post offices in
his locality have shut down so he is now compelled to rely on the ‘hole-in-the-wall’
cash machine to get his hands on his money. He asked if I would show him how to use it and I agreed to
The first time, he watched as I carried out the procedure step
by step, while providing a running commentary. On the second occasion – in an attempt
to consolidate his learning – I suggested that he perform the whole operation
himself, while I observed. We chose a quiet moment at the cashpoint located 200
metres from his home.
The process went something like this:
DAD: Am I holding my
card the right way up?
ME: Yes, it’s the
right way up.
DAD: Then why won’t it
fit in the hole?
ME: Because you’re
trying to shove it into the slot where the notes come out; you need to put it
here, where it says ‘INSERT CARD HERE’.
Card inserted, the menu of options appears on the screen.
DAD: Do I put my
4-digit number in now?
ME: No, not yet. You
first need to read the options and decide which one you want.
DAD: But I can’t read
them – I need my specs. (Starts rummaging in his pockets in search of his
reading glasses). OK – I can see it now.
So do I want ‘CASH ONLY’ or ‘CASH WITH RECEIPT’?
ME: Well, do you want
DAD: Oh yes – I always
get a receipt. You can’t trust anybody these days; they’re all trying to rip
you off. I need a receipt to …
ME: So press the ‘CASH
WITH RECEIPT’ button then.
DAD: Where is it now …
let’s see … (Finger hovering over the screen, as if carrying out a subtle
piece of black magic)? Oh, what’s
ME: It’s timed you
out. Take your card out and we’ll try again.
DAD: Just my luck to
get an iffy machine!
Dad inserts card again.
DAD: Do I put my
4-digit number in now? It’s 672 …
ME: No, not yet. Push
this button here to say you want cash with a receipt.
Dad pushes said button.
DAD: Can I put my 4-digit
number in now?
ME: Wait a moment.
What does it say on the screen?
DAD: It says … (moves
his face closer to the screen) … ‘DO …YOU…WANT…TO…CHECK…YOUR…BALANCE…BEFORE…WITHDRAWING
ME: Well, do you?
DAD: Why would I want
to do that? I wouldn’t be withdrawing money if I didn’t have it in my bank
account. Me and your mother don’t spend money we haven’t got – unlike this
younger generation who … …
ME: Then press this ‘NO’
DAD: Oh, the damn
thing’s timed me out again
By this point, a queue had formed behind us. Their facial
expressions suggested that, after witnessing this odd couple hovering over the
cash dispenser, many of them suspected I was guilty of elderly abuse, trying to
rip off the old fella.
We let those waiting go before us and, about 20 minutes (and
three further attempts) later, my old dad was able to withdraw his £250. He
then proceeded to count it out – note by note – in the midst of passing
shoppers. I think I will need to accompany him a few more times before he gets
the hang of it.
As we enter into a new year, I thought I’d share with you my
personal highlights of the festive season, the most memorable moments of the
last three weeks. In no particular order, they are:
1. Singing with my mother-in-law
Sadly, my 81-year-old
mother-in-law is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease; her memory span is no more
than a few seconds, she’s lost her sparky temperament, and - even when
surrounded by her family – she sits in silence with a blank expression. Well
she does until she hears Dusty Springfield.
Late on Christmas Day, when all
the feasting had ended, we played some songs from the 1960s on You-Tube.
Watching mother-in-law belt out her rendition of Dusty’s ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ (word perfect, face glowing with
delight) will be an image that will remain with me for ever.
2. Greeting cards from my elderly parents
Both my parents are in their
mid-80s and, while yet immune from the ravages of dementia, they do tend to be
a tad confused and forgetful. Sending greeting cards is a case in point.
We received a delightful
Christmas card, wishing us wonderful cheer, but there was nothing written in it
– completely blank. A process of elimination, and detective work of a quality
Sherlock Holmes would relish, was required to identify the source.
For Mrs Jones’ birthday (2nd
January) their greetings card arrived two days late due to their decision to
use a 2nd-class stamp – my lovely mother is as tight as a her
compression stocking – the post code was wrong, and their birthday wishes were
to their ‘daughter’ rather than ‘daughter-in-law’. Ah well, it’s the thought
3. Disturbing images of offspring
My two babies are now aged 26 and
22, both away from home and enjoying their lives to the full. Over the
holiday period, each sent me an image that unsettled me.
Ryan opted to attend his
football’s team’s annual fancy-dress pub crawl in the role of Alex, the
star from the cult film, A Clockwork
Orange. Never one for half measures, the
resemblance with the Malcolm
McDowell character was chilling, not least because he had informed me that he’d
recently rerun the film six times to get into role. I was left to hope that,
during his tour of all the local drinking holes, he refrained from beating an
old lady to death
with a giant phallus.
Becca is gallivanting around the
world and sent me a video of her sliding, head first at high velocity, on a
flimsy piece of matting down an improvised mud slide in Brisbane, Australia.
When she hit the pond at the bottom, she skimmed across the water and almost
hit the banking on the other side. She afterwards tried to reassure me that the
only injuries she’d sustained were 'a few friction burns'.
4. Arse grabbing
Shortly after midnight, in the
midst of new-year revelry, the wife of my best friend grabbed
my right buttock.
She can be forgiven for I was wearing my favourite slacks, the cut of which
my arse into an irresistible pout. The butt-clutching incident was made all the
remarkable as the lady in question is typically reserved and
self-conscious. Luckily, she was
so pissed at the time I’m sure she’ll retain
no memory of her cheeky squeeze; I’ll choose the
right moment in 2017 to remind
her of it!
5. A vivid dream
Over recent weeks, our house has
undergone a few renovations and, as such, many workmen
have visited. One night
over the Christmas period I experienced the most vivid of dreams. I
will not go
into detail. Suffice it to say that it involved me, Mrs Jones, two burly
a hosepipe. Watering the garden will never feel quite the same.
6. Prettiest lady in the pub
A couple of minutes before the
end of 2016 I recall glancing across the table at the woman
thinking that she was, undoubtedly, the most attractive individual in the whole
pub. My second thought was that I’m so very fortunate, as the lady I was eyeing
other than Mrs Jones. And in addition to her beauty - inside and out -
there is an additional
bonus: she can’t half hold her ale.
I’ve been thinking a lot about
sex and lust. (What man doesn’t; even the 58-year-old variety). And over the
last few years I’ve realised that my inclinations towards the female form are
changing. I find I’m less and less activated by the exposed flesh of young
women, while my proclivity towards the older form seems to grow stronger with
each passing year.
Of course, this transition may be
an adaptive one, a part of man’s evolution. It would be crushing for a bloke to
yearn after something he can no longer attain – someone like me, on the cusp of
drawing his state pension and lacking both millionaire status and an enormous
phallus, is never going to attract beautiful ladies who are half his age.
I should emphasise at this point
that I never have, and never will, seek sexual liaisons with anyone other than
Mrs Jones. But, to repeat an old adage, there’s no harm in looking. And now,
when I look – in the street, pub, or on Naughty America TV – my taste is
evolving in the direction of a mature spruce with more concentric rings around
A real woman should not own a
sculpted, porcelain-like, body. And boob jobs are a definite no-no; when on the
move, and unsupported, breasts should not remain firm and static in their
silicon straitjacket but should swing, independently of each other, like two
pendulous orbs frantically striving to get as far away from each other as
possible. A lipid cushion around the girth and buttocks never fails to please a
heterosexual, middle-aged male, being more rewarding to touch and warmer to
snuggle against in the cold of night.
Is there a finer sight than a
mature, voluptuous lady – naked as the day she was born – wobbling in your
direction? (Sweet baby Jesus, I’m going all unnecessary at the thought).
So if you are an 80 year-old
mother of a daughter, and see me approaching, I suggest you lock her away for
her own safety. Indeed, you might wish to take cover yourself as, when I think
about it, isn’t there something weirdly alluring about dentures, wrinkles and arthritic
** Alas, Mrs Jones refused to pose for the photograph - women, eh; I'll never understand them - so I had to import one courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. **
It is often said that when you live with the same person
over many years you grow more and more alike. In our house this phenomenon is
most apparent in regards to our newly-fitted shower cubicle.
Mrs Jones is rather obsessive when it comes to cleaning our
house. Following the recent fitting of our spanking new bathroom, it was no
surprise to find her devoting three hours each week to scrubbing the glass and
tiles so as to maintain their sparkle. Her urge to cleanse was, she told me,
mainly activated by her noticing water stains on the sides of the shower unit.
To counter these triggers, she bought a squeegee – those plastic-handled
implements with the rubber edge, commonly used by window cleaners. She told me
that she uses this squeegee to remove the drips from all four sides of the
cubicle (two tiled, two glass) immediately after each shower. Strategically, she
left the device hanging from one of the bathroom fittings.
Immediately following my daily rinse, I now feel compelled
to replicate my wife’s cleaning behaviour. If anyone was unfortunate enough to
spy on my after-shower routine in the cubicle, this is what they would witness:
STEP 1 – Turn off the sprinkler and pick up the squeegee.
STEP 2 – Standing on tiptoes, dripping wet, stretch and
place the squeegee at the top of one glass wall, and slide it downwards to the
floor in one smooth, squeaky stroke, while being mesmerised by the strangely
addictive droplets of water toing and froing in all directions as if to evade
STEP 3 – Upon reaching the crouch position at the bottom of
the stroke, I contemplate how my scrotum swings dangerously close to the shower
floor; another few years and I fear my balls will slap against the plastic base
like two sloppy dollops of Play-doh.
STEP 4: Repeat the above, stretching up and down as if in an
exercise class, until all of the glass wall is completely free of rogue
STEP 5: Turn 90 degrees and follow the same procedure with
tiled wall only to find that, as I bend, my arse cheeks leave a soggy, two-crescent
imprint on the previously cleansed glass which then requires more strokes of my
STEPS 6 to 12: Repeat all the above, involving a psychedelic
kaleidoscope of gangly bits and hairy rump.
So each morning I spend a half-hour in the bathroom: five
minutes to shower and 25 minutes to clean the damn thing. But it does continue