herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

In which I investigate youth culture...

I'm still poolside in Marrakech, where forensic character analyses of our fellow guests has become a daily pastime.

A new couple arrived a couple of days ago and they've given the sewing circle of 50- and 60-year-old women around the pool plenty to talk about.

Our new arrivals are a talking point because there's a significant age gap between them. She looks to be in her mid to late 40s while he looks to be in his early to mid 20s.

"Well, we know who's picking up the bill," remarked one of the older women that we've befriended. "It must be hard for her children," said another woman, with that syrupy mock-concern that people use to conceal their bigotry.

This is where I chimed in. "How do you even know she has children?" I asked. "In fact, how do you know that isn't her adopted son?" (He's black and possibly Brazilian while she's white and seemingly British.)

Later that day I saw them lazily spooning in a hammock. One of her arms was stretched backwards in order to grab hold of his buttocks from beneath his swimming shorts. That was my theory put to bed.

There was a time when I would have had plenty to say about age-gap relationships. I would have quoted studies that show that the wider the age gap, the greater the chance of them ending in divorce.

I would have noted that men are evolutionarily primed to favour younger women. I would have pointed out that a woman's fertility has a deadline while a man's does not.

Now I'm in a relationship with a man four years my junior and my opinions have of course changed. I haven't been educated or enlightened, however.

Oh no. Objectively speaking, my opinions still hold. Subjectively speaking, what's the problemo?

Besides, self-deception is the cornerstone of a happy and harmonious relationship.

My mother calls him The Child. When I told her we were going to Paris she asked me if I'd be taking him to Euro Disney.

I dug my own grave when I told her that he used to be a skateboarder. "When was that?" she asked. "Last month?"

It may as well be a 10 year age-gap.

There's an entire chapter between 27 and 31. Recklessness and foolishness are celebrated in your 20s. In your 30s, recklessness is foolish.

I'm now at the age where I pack Barrys Tea and a pharmacopeia of just-in-case over-the-counter medications when I go on holiday. He still packs everything into his gym bag.

There are jibes too. "What was it like during the war?" he asks me.

"Sure you need it at your age," he laughs when I drift off to sleep before him.

There have also been some rude awakenings. He recently told me that he used to collect Pogs. My younger brother collected Pogs, and it doesn't feel like it was all that long ago.

I demanded to see his passport at that point - just to err on the side of caution.

Likewise, I'm sure he wanted me to produce my passport the day I threw my back out. My dodgy knee was also giving me trouble.

You can use all the Botox and fillers in the world, but you can't avoid that 'Oooof!' sound that involuntarily hurtles from your mouth when you try to ease a stiff back out of a chair.

People say that age is nothing but a number and even the most atheistic types would have to concede that there are young souls and old souls roaming this earth.

energy

However, they forget that younger people simply have more energy and one party will always have more lust for life.

It works for me, though. While I'm loath to spout the 'he keeps me young' cliche, I have to admit that vibrancy and vitality is pretty intoxicating.

Age makes us stolid and set in our ways so it's invigorating to be with someone who reminds you that it's not the end of the world if you forget your European Health Insurance Card when you go on holiday .... and that lazily spooning in a hammock can be quite a lot of fun too.

The sewing circle disagree.

'Sure you need it at your age, he laughs when I drift off to sleep before him'

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