Phil Scott: Age of reason
What could older men possibly have in common with a guy 20 years his junior? Plenty, writes a forty-something Phil Scott.
Do my beady old eyes deceive me or is ageism creeping into the gay discourse? In last week's SX a guy wrote a letter about a 40-yr-old getting into a relationship with a 20-year-old. "What could they possibly have in common?" he asked. He also suggested it was OK for the 40-year-old to have great sex for a few months but the kid would get nothing out of it. (Except his meals paid for, I assume. And a fabulous trip to the Whitsundays on the 40-year-old's yacht.)
There was also an interview with comedian Tom Ballard, who stated that one of his stand-up topics is "old people are stupid".
As someone who is over 40 (in every way) I'd like to address these issues. Let's take them one at a time.
1. Old people are stupid. The problem here is defining old and stupid. My idea of old is 90. A lot of 90-year-olds are stupid (meaning "in a stupor") but it's not their fault. They have dementia, a pretty solid excuse for stupidity. What excuse does a stupid 20-year-old have? None. A 20-year-old can only be in a stupor from drugs and alcohol, willingly ingested. That's fine with me, because it's easier to lure a stupid 20-year-old into a relationship. Bahahaha!
2. What could they possibly have in common? This question suggests a kind of narrow view of people's interests. Believe it or not, there are young gays interested in gardening, and young lesbians who practise needlepoint. Not thousands, I grant you, but they are out there somewhere.
3. The twenty-year gap. OK, it's two decades so it's bound to cover generational change. Musical taste, for example. If you're 40, how are you expected to tolerate the shit 20-year-olds like? It used to be a deal-breaker. Now the problem has kind of disappeared thanks to the iPod, where you listen to music no one else can hear except on crowded public transport. You could be grooving away to Gregorian chants by the Abbess Hildegarde of Bingen. As long as your body is making the right moves who is going to know?
If it's still a worry, 40-year-olds take note: you can always source a 20-year-old boyfriend who is deaf. There are plenty of deaf guys around and they are invariably hot. (Zack Randall, anyone?)
A similar solution could be found in the fitness area. As toned and gym-conscious as you may be in your 40s, a 20-year-old will be fitter. That's just a natural part of growing up, though for some reason they think of it as a personal achievement. Rather than subject yourself to childish comparisons, you have an alternative: the unfit 20-year-old. You might have to drive out of town for this one, but there are couch potatoes of every age... and weight. Scrawny and angular, or morbidly obese: young guys have incredible body issues. When you're in sight of 50 you expect your body to start going downhill but remember: some people never made it uphill in the first place!
4. Great sex. Now, which sounds better? "I just ate a tiny slice of the most perfect cheesecake ever!" or, "I just ate six whole cheesecakes of varying quality"? Obviously the first, because the second makes you want to puke. It's the same with sex. More doesn't equal better.
Our correspondent's view was that the 40-year-old would have great sex because he was with a boy half his age. I think the exact opposite is true: it's the 20-year-old who gets to experience the great sex. Once you're in your 40s you've been done every which-way and you know what works, not only for yourself but also for your partner. Plus, you've spent decades fantasising so you're adept at role-play, sex talk, the uses of fresh vegetables and all those little extras that turn a common or garden root into a memorable experience. Once your 20-year-old gets a whiff of all that (pardon the expression) he'll want more. You think middle-aged guys are needy? Nah. Young guys are needier, once they find out.
5. Love is in the air. Sorry, but there is a soppy romcom ending to this column. Older and younger men fall in love with each other. Possibly the youngster finds maturity (sophistication, reliability, life-experience) attractive, and the older guy finds freshness (naïvety, enthusiasm, stamina) a turn on. To my mind, these relationships are more acceptable in the gay world than the straight one, where children cement people's ideas of who you should be at a certain age.
My partner is 11 years younger than me, and we're going strong. Shit, did I write that? Excuse me while I cross myself, turn around three times, spit and swear.