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??
During infancy, my central concerns focused on the risk of
humiliation at the hands of my school teachers, some of whom deployed
bare-bottom spanking in front of the whole class as a punishment; even at the
tender age of six, the prospect of botching the arithmetic test and my arse
being exposed to 30 of my peers was a disturbing prospect. By the time I
reached my teenage years my worries centred on whether I’d win the affections
of a pretty girl in my class (and perhaps glimpse her arse) rather than losing
out to one of my mates.
Early adulthood evoked anxieties about college examinations
and career prospects. Then parental responsibilities arrived, together with
ongoing fears about not having enough money to pay the bills at the end of each
month. As my affluence increased, the day-to-day worries of a responsible job,
alongside the toxic office politics, grabbed centre stage.
Now at 56, and having recently opted for early retirement
with a generous pension, what is there left for me to worry about? My
33-year-old relationship with Mrs Jones is stronger than ever. My two adult
children seem to be maturing into decent, independent human beings. There is
nothing around to disturb my mental tranquillity.
But the human psyche, in its wondrous complexity, seems to
find things to fret about even when life is good. Listed below are the top 10
worries that have pushed into my mind over the last month:
1. The inward journey
of my toe-nail
Despite regular attention from the clippers, the big-toe
nail on my left foot seems determined to get more acquainted with the
neighboring soft tissue, and is burrowing into the flesh like a scene from
Alien on reverse play.
2. My daughter
driving her Mini-Cooper
The occasional disturbing image of my precious princess travelling
at speed in such a frail shell alongside all the 4 x 4s and juggernauts, while
casually twiddling the dial on her car radio.
3. The kink in my
It might have been my overly tight classic briefs, but when
I was in the shower a fortnight ago I noticed that my most precious appendage
had an almost 45-degree kink in it half way along its length. For a few nervous
moments I feared that any future intimacy would require Mrs Jones to be out of
sight and in a separate room.
4. My football club
suffering a humiliating defeat
Following promotion to the Premier League of English
football (soccer), my small-town club, Burnley, are this season competing
against giants like Manchester United and Liverpool. More than once I’ve awoken
abruptly from a nightmare as a 10th goal sails into the Burnley net.
5. Dying slowly with a
degenerative brain disease
Sadly, my mother-in-law is afflicted with senile dementia;
her faculties and personality ebbed away some time ago. I fear such a gradual,
undignified demise. When it’s time to meet my maker, I hope for a sudden death;
a massive coronary during one of my early-morning jogs would be ideal.
6. Whether my knee
joints can hold firm
Speaking of jogging … throughout my menopause-fueled pursuit of fitness, my knee and ankle joints regularly creak and threaten to
give way altogether. As such, I’m prone to catastrophic images of being
wheel-chair bound before the age of 60.
from trimming my bush
I increasingly like to keep my intimate vegetable patch neat
and tidy, a practice encouraged by reading that shaving makes your manhood look
bigger. But the ever increasing depths of the folds in my dangly bits means that
completion of the procedure with my Remington 3-speed trimmer is fast developing
into a bloody business; I fear one day that the process will leave the shower resembling
the iconic scene from Psycho.
8. My son’s lungs
At the age of 22, for some inexplicable reason, my son Ryan
decided to start smoking. At times I’m disturbed by the image in my head of his
sooty lungs, spluttering to inflate.
9. The passage of
It is unsettling how quickly time passes: I’m not far off
60; my parents are in their mid 80s, and my “kids” are both 20-something. Bereavements
are imminent. But perhaps even more unsettling are the little losses and
endings: no more family holidays; no more teaching my children to drive;
selling our house so as to down-size; and no longer in the role of my
children’s taxi driver - all life chapters that will never be repeated.
10. My hemorrhoids
Despite previous assaults with ointments and the surgeon’s
knife, my resilient little buddies continue to strive for daylight. Although
painless, the blood-stained underwear can sometimes appear as if … … But I’ll
spare you any more detail; I wouldn’t wish to worry you!
And who said the life of a 56-year-old early retiree was an
Last Saturday afternoon, I attended a beer festival in a
neighbouring town and, as it was a pleasantly warm evening, decided to walk the
four miles home rather than order a taxi. As is often the case, my five
pints of fine cask ale had induced a mellow mood and I welcomed the opportunity
for reflection during the homeward hike.
When I reached the half-way point on my journey, around 7.30
pm, I passed an Indian restaurant. The sweet smell of chicken tikka masala
caressed my nostrils and triggered a hollow, burning sensation in the pit of my
stomach, so I decided I was in urgent need of a curry.
Despite the restaurant seeming less than half full, several
minutes elapsed before the manager greeted me.
“Good evening, sir”, he said, while glancing over my shoulder,
as if searching for my dining companion. “How can I help you?”
This struck me as a bizarre question; I resisted the urge to
say that I’d like to buy two litres of matt emulsion and hog-hair brush.
“A table for one, please.”
“Have you booked?”
“No, I’ve dropped in on the off-chance” I said, while
scanning the empty tables around us.
The manager seated me near to the exit, directly across from
the ladies’ restroom. A swift swoop of his hand cleared away one set of
utensils, leaving the undersized table set for one diner.
As I read the menu, I could not help but notice the
reactions of other customers to me, Billy-no-mates, sitting alone. Two young
women exiting the toilet seemed to stare at me as if I was a reincarnated
version of Ted Bundy. A couple entering the restaurant looked, and looked
again, as if they had observed something ghoulish. I reassured myself that I
must be succumbing to paranoia, and that it was all in my imagination.
Once the food arrived, the process of eating only amplified
my self-consciousness. The crunch as I bit into my poppadoms seemed to
reverberate around the restaurant. Despite my best efforts, my lamb bhuna
insistently dribbled out of the corner of my mouth. After all, eating out is a
social activity, where food intake should be punctuated by conversation and the
exchange of pleasantries; but without anyone opposite me, to distract and
shield, I felt exposed.
Towards the end of my meal, two children, a boy and a girl
both aged about 6, appeared in front of me. I nodded and smiled; thankfully
they smiled too. Suddenly, their mother appeared, glanced suspiciously in my
direction and, without any word or gesture of recognition to me, grasped their
hands and led them quickly away. I felt like the child-catcher from Chitty-Chitty
Bang Bang intent on snatching children off the streets of Vulgaria! I stifled
an impulse to scream, “Come along my little ones; come and get your lollipops.”
It is rare for me to eat out alone in a restaurant,
particularly in the evening. My impromptu stop at the Jewel of Bombay provided
me with empathy of how single people might feel when in the same position. I
wont be repeating the experience in a hurry; thank goodness for Mrs Jones!