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??
Tuesday, 22 October 2013
A miserable bastard
I sit at a table in the corner of the room, striving to
appear as if I’m having an enjoyable evening. It is a 50th birthday
party in the function room of a local sports’ club. At 55, I’m one of the older
‘revellers’. Mrs Jones is standing on the dance-floor, engaged in animated
conversation with the work colleague who is celebrating her half century. There
is only a trickle of patrons at the bar; people of our age can no longer imbibe
alcohol in the quantities of old.
I gaze into the flimsy froth of the pint of beer in front
of me and ponder on the past parties I’ve attended. The house party at 15 years
old, brimming with cheap cider and vomit; sexual experimentation and tears;
fights and consequent police involvement; and culminating in the wrath of the
host’s parents who return to find unconscious teenagers scattered amongst the debris
and (on one memorable occasion) muddy foot-prints on the Artexed living-room
A smirk encroaches onto my face as my mind drifts to the
late 1970s and those 21st -birthday celebrations. Key of the door?
At the time it seemed like I had the key to everything: an exciting career; the
meaning of life; and, most importantly, the one that unlocked the sexual vaults
of the stunning young ladies who always seemed to be in the vicinity –
although, on reflection, the last one might have been more aspiration than
I dredge my mind for a 30th party recollection,
but fail to find one; my contemporaries and I were all too occupied raising
toddlers and trying to earn sufficient cash to feed our families and pay the
I remember my 40th birthday party though, on the
dance-floor with a few of my old school mates, jumping around to the thump of
the Rolling Stones, trying in vain to recapture that spark from 20 years
before; a gaggle of sad, middle-aged men.
And now I’m an older participant at a 50th. I
raise my head from the beer froth and scan my fellow party-goers: men with
grey, receding hair and beer-bellies, one of the more inebriated jiving with
his wife on the dance-floor; heavy-busted women, trussed into under-sized
dresses, with a swathe of overhanging flesh pushing against the zip at the back,
seeking liberation; and a sprinkling of the younger generation, who have
appeased their parents by making an appearance at the birthday celebration before
moving on for some serious partying in the night clubs.
But not to worry, it is 11.00 pm and the convoy of taxis
will be arriving in 30 minutes to return us all home before we fall asleep and
risk dribbling over the furnishings.
My head droops again, and I mutter
Leonard Cohen lyrics for consolation.
falls down on last year's man,
an hour has gone by
and he has not moved his hand.
But the skylight is like skin for a drum I'll never mend
and all the rain falls down amen
on the works of last year's man.
At this point Mrs Jones returns,
sits next to me, squeezes my hand and smiles. Instantly, I recognise that I’m
being a miserable bastard, and lousy company. What justification do I have for
being morose? I’ve recently taken early retirement, leaving with a generous
pension that means I will never again have any financial worries. I’ll no more
have to endure restless nights worrying about work, nor the frustrations of the
morning rush-hour. Mrs Jones and I are both in good health and will, from now
on, be going on vacation three times each year; when not on foreign turf we
will frequently be found hiking in the stunning Lancashire countryside.
And do I really want to be young
again? On the basis of a 32 year partnership with Mrs Jones, I’m confident I
will never again suffer the humiliation of being abandoned and betrayed by
girlfriends. No more acne agonies. Nor will I worry about my sexual
performance, for if the dough fails to rise on the next occasion it is not
disastrous – we are involved in a marathon not a sprint.
Life is good.
I kiss my beautiful wife and,
hand-in-hand, we head to the dance floor for a smooch (before the taxi