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??
Thursday, 16 April 2015
I'm a weight Nazi!
Courtesy of Raktim Chatterjee at
'Wow, he's a big lad,' I said to Mrs Jones as we sat together on the settee watching our twice-weekly dollop of Judge Judy. 'Look at that gut; when was the last time he saw his knees, not to mention his bits and pieces!'
The victim of my verbal assault
was a young man in his early 20s, standing before the solemn queen of
arbitration in an attempt to sue his ex-girlfriend for the cost of an
engagement ring. Clad in a grey suit and black tie, he clearly had made an
effort to dress appropriately for Court. Articulate and respectful, he outlined
the rationale for his claim. Thinking back, his demeanour suggested a pleasant,
intelligent human being. But at the time I ignored those qualities, my
attention focused only on the straining lower buttons of his white cotton shirt
as they struggled to contain a wodge of overhanging flab demanding its
I used to be a nice man. Size didn’t
matter – except, of course, when creasing the sheets in the midst of lust – it
was only behaviour and personality that counted when evaluating another human
being. But that all changed in 2013 when a self-imposed exercise programme
resulted in me shedding my beer-belly and 30 pounds.
Since my conversion from a chubby
slob to thoroughbred athlete (don’t puncture my delusional bubble – it’s hard
enough to maintain a positive self-image at 56), I’ve developed an obsession
with people’s shapes and, like reformed smokers, I am now the harshest critic
of those who are yet to change their ways. When meeting males for the first
time, I zoom in on their contours and mass. Does he carry more than one chin?
Are there any man-boobs lurking under his outer garments? Is that a poorly
inflated rubber ring clinging to his waste or a swathe of whale blubber?
I know my reactions are
distasteful, ignorant and sometimes repulsive. My rational self often
immediately challenges my prejudicial thoughts:
‘Don’t be a fatist; you’re no
better than a racist, sexist or any other “ist”’
‘If you must form opinions of
others, look further than their physical appearance’
‘Never judge a book by its cover’
‘Some people are born to be
bigger than others; it’s in their genes’
‘There are unfortunate folk with
medical conditions that render weight loss difficult, even impossible’.
I’m familiar with all these
retorts and believe them to be morally and factually sound. But there is an
emotional, almost instinctive part of me that is impossible to restrain. Feel
free to unfriend me now; I’ll understand.
Nor is my discriminatory gaze
exclusive to males. When I’m introduced to a woman one of my first thoughts is,
‘How firm is her butt?’ A close second is, ‘What proportion of her breasts are
pure mammary rather than excess poundage?’ And so my internal conflict is
triggered again, my emotive prejudice challenged by my rational and moral
I often feel compelled to explain
my turmoil to Mrs Jones. When she catches me staring at women’s arses and boobs
I’m at pains to point out that I’m not yearning for soft, silky, tender, warm,
succulent female flesh … …[* breath quickens*] … … but struggling to resolve my
internal conflict. She is not yet convinced!