An article in the NYT caught my interest the other day. No, to be honest, it irked me like hell. As so often in the world of critics—hence not very original—the author Robert Gottlieb, had nothing better to do than comment in over 3000 words on the naivety or dare I say stupidity of romance readers (RR) and writers (RW) alike, even though we might be “squirming with desire”. Continue reading “The Romance Revolution”
The other day I heard a story of an elderly couple in their mid-eighties who is having an affair. In their retirement home! The reaction of the surrounding audience was “How cute, how endearing.” As if they were little infants who lie on a lambskin, lifting their heads for the photographer or a couple of pre-schoolers playing Mums ‘n Dads.
It’s never cute to start a new relationship, no matter what age we are. More so as an older person than in younger years. As we enter the sunset years of our lives, finding a new partner and starting a new relationship requires courage and a giant leap of faith. It’s not easy to put one’s history aside and start anew. It’s also an incredibly hopeful act because One is a lonely number and living as One is a hard road to travel.
When people heard the story of the couple from the retirement home, I imagine their mental picture was that of a brittle couple walking the garden paths holding their emaciated hands, planting little kisses on each other’s lips or wrinkly cheeks, and whispering terms of endearment before they forgot what they were talking about.
But NO. Three times NO. It’s not cute. It is not like admiring a couple of rare Panda bears in the zoo or on TV. It simply is the human condition. Throughout our lives, we always need another person to help us regulate our internal state, our level of arousal. A baby couldn’t be calm or go to sleep without the closeness of a calm and soothing mother. It would suffer greatly and might even die without the love and physical comfort of another person, even when fed regularly. Being close to a (caring) person is not just a good idea, it’s a biological necessity for our survival. As we grow older, our dependence on another person decreases, but it will never ever go away completely. We always function better when we are close to another person. (For more in-depth information about this read A General Theory of Love).
Back to my story. When it transpired that Eva (let’s call my fellow oldies Eva and Adam) talked about yummy sex, people’s eyes clouded over. The Icky-effect kicked in. The idea that Adam would have his eighty-year-old hand sliding up Eva’s trembling thighs and suckle with increasing enjoyment on her nipples, quickly threw the couple out of the ‘cute-corner.’ Because, let’s be serious, Old Folks over the age of 50, are put out to pasture and best used as babysitters, for house sitting, and looking after the animals when the kids are on holiday.
It may be hard to picture our parents as sexually active—I found it hard to picture my own parents as sexually active… until I crossed over to the Old Folks’ side.
Let me tell you, as someone who is closer to my eighties than my fifties, that’s not how it works for those of us on the other side of this magical divide. The skin may wrinkle and the bones may creak, but the (metaphorical) heart and soul are ageless. Besides having accumulated more knowledge over the years and learned from experiences, my thinking has not changed much. Only when I’m invited to join in some physical activities, I have to pass. That’s the only time I ‘feel’ my age.
The need for emotional and physical intimacy, however, doesn’t stop. Erogenous zones don’t disappear with the plumpness of youthful skin. It is still arousing to be touched in those areas. There is no use-by-date of the need for love, after which life becomes a waiting game for the undertaker.
Baby boomers have heralded the sexual revolution together with many changes we take for granted nowadays. Watch this space—they/we will not sit by and allow people to cutesify (don’t adjust your spell check, I just invented the word) our lives. I say that even though knowing the obstacles we face are extraordinary.
I started writing romance novels a few years ago and my heroines are in their late fifties and older… after all, they say write about what you know. Since then I have talked with many women my age and older, and through this scientifically conducted research, I came to the conclusion that we love being held, being kissed, being stroked, being made love to, no matter our age and the number of wrinkles we have.
I have submitted my ideas and manuscripts to several well-known publishers and agents and received the feedback that there is no readership for old heroines like that. Old Heroes, maybe, but certainly not dried up old Heroines. Maybe they are right? I for one am sick and tired reading about twenty and thirty-year-old people, whether they are normal couples or shifting into some other kind of beings. Yes, I too love Sleepless in Seattle and adore Dirty Dancing, but surely there must be more stories out there like Something’s Gotta Give? Yes, yes, I hear you mention the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. A great start, but only one of very few bucking the trend and depicting positive images of older age. There are interesting lives being lived from the age of fifty onwards and they are worth talking about. Recognizing oneself in stories being told might help our generation to feel less isolated and resigned.
What are we doing to ourselves if a quarter of our life is ignored in so many areas of life, including art? I say our on purpose because if you are lucky, you’ll get there as well. Sometimes it feels like we are a burden to society—except for those who own and run retirement homes. They can’t wait for us to flock to their establishments in droves and guarantee them lucrative profits.
Imagine my excitement when two large publishers (in the romance field) put a call out for manuscripts with what they coined ‘Silver Fox Heroes and Heroines’. They defined ‘Silver Foxes’ as people between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five. It took a while for me to stop rolling my eyes. Did they mean those young people who dye their hair gray now because it’s a new fashion trend? The mind boggles. If you are middle-aged and love romantic novels, you might have to search amongst indie publishers for books with real silver foxes and vixens.
Ah well, the fight goes on. Ageism and discrimination of older people aren’t something new and it’ll take much more awareness and talk about these issues for things to change. At least, we have Grace and Frankie on Netflix, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. When they talk about life and sex I can see the silver lining. Like the Golden Girls of the eighties, they push the boundaries of contemporary thinking about us oldies. YEAH! Go, Girls!
Waking up was a slow climb from the darkness of deep sleep into wakefulness and the light of day. Sounds of the early morning wrestled their way into consciousness as they chased the remains of nocturnal dreams. The chorus of tweeting birds punctuated by a passing car or the occasional clatter from a nearby busy yard came more and more into focus while fragments of her last dream still hung at the edges of consciousness like spiderwebs. Not quite gone but also no longer in charge.
Fragments of the dream flickered up, being lost and not finding the way home. Despair, while helpful, kind people gave directions that lead deeper into obscure landscapes looking like a Dalian painting. Time dripping slowly creating a suffocating heaviness on her chest.
Continue reading “Waking Up”
by Donovan Leitch
In the chilly hours and minutes
I want to be
In the warm hold of your lovin’ mind.
To feel you all around me
And to take your hand
Along the sand,
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.
Continue reading “Catch the Wind”
(By William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18)
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
This short story by Ken Staley is from his collection “The Art of Ageing” and published here with his permission.
I sit in this chair, day after day. Time passes, I’m convinced it must, but I take no note. The sky is always blue, the grass always new spring green and butterflies dance and chase each other from blossom to blossom. And that pond, always there, waiting. There is music here, always. Not their music, but our music. Songs, my Carol, songs you so deeply etched on my heart that those notes echo as long as I breathe, as long as my eyes can still see – you.
Oh, others stop now and then, and speak about me as though I do not exist and cannot hear them. I feel their pity and sense their shame. Words they have for each other – adult words – to salve their guilt. “Poor man – does no one come to visit?” “What does he find so interesting out that window?” “How can he sit here day after day after day?”
So, this will be the first of many pieces about sex. It is utterly boggling what kind of stereotypes are being ‘cultivated’ about ‘mature’ people and sex. Nobody seems to have trouble to envisage grandma baking in the kitchen, looking after the little grandchildren, reading stories, attending to the little vege-garden in the backyard. But think about her in the throes of passion, legs entangled with ‘her man’, sighing and moaning, that’s an image that does not sit easy with a lot of people. (By all means, correct me if I am wrong) So here a 4 minute video clip a friend sent me earlier today. GO GRANNY!
There are a number of myths surrounding the older generation and their sexual practices. I remember when I was in my late teens my friends and I discussed whether our parents would still have sex. The unanimous response was “NO WAY”. Our parents would have been in their late 40s at that time. Not much has changed over the last 40 or 50 years. There still seems to be a ban on talking about senior citizens and their sexual experiences. What did you think when you looked at the above picture? Be honest! Continue reading “Does going into retirement mean to live without sex?”
people are of the opinion that if a woman rarely wants sex there is something physically wrong with her. Maybe her sexual desire, her libido, would improve with the help of medical treatment? What pill can be prescribed that would get her back on the right track?
Like in many other areas, some health professionals (and certainly pharmaceutical companies) quickly reduce interpersonal, social, and cultural problems to a hormonal imbalance, that can be – and should be remedied with something we can buy in the pharmacy.
The biggest misconception of our present time is that problems like low sexual desire or depression are all due to hormonal or chemical imbalance. A misconception that is widely fed and supported research financed by pharmaceutical companies whose huge profits rely on people reaching for 'the pill'.
There are a lot of myths, facts, semi-facts, and wild stories that circulate around homosexuality. The following video is a 5 minute Tiki-Tour of education about some of the facts regard ‘gay-ness’ that have such a hard time to combat old theories of:
- The absent or domineering parent
- It’s un-natural
- It’s a choice
and new theories of:
- It’s in the genes
- It may be about having older brothers ! <:0