[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]
A charming Hungarian once told me that men and women grow more alike as they get old. I was in therapy with him at the time and the transference was positive, so I never thought to question him. It didn’t seem relevant anyway, as he was forty-six when he said it and I was thirty-five.
In any event, he was never able personally to verify his observation. He died of a massive stroke at the age of 71 while walking vigorously along the shore at Clearwater Beach, Florida, to which he had retired about eighteen months before. When I met with his small wren of a widow fifteen years later, she declared him a fine figure of a man to the end, still virile and erect as he strode over the sand, nodding at attractive passing ladies.
Bill and I now both qualify as “old.” Have we grown more alike since the salad days before we met? Well, yes. I tell him all the time we would have been entirely incompatible had we come across each other thirty, forty, or fifty years earlier – when he was always thinking nooky, wherever he might find it, whereas I was always thinking nest-building and settling on the nest. I would have called him a swine; he would (eventually) have called me a bore.
On the other hand, the hunky Hungarian was perhaps not quite right. The body’s fires, whether wandering or domestic, may indeed be banking after eighty — bringing both sexes to the living-room couch after dinner, two versions of the same generic old person, slightly different in appearance thanks to bone structure and haircut, but who both hold hands (or not) while surfing channels till it’s okay to go to sleep.
However, our minds remain differently hard-wired. No matter how impossible a favorable outcome, even philosophical old men still covertly eye hot young things who flaunt their this and that, the urge to propagate their genes undying. Even bookish old women still secretly covet well-muscled bodies of shirtless young men seen ripping up streets with the brute physical strength required to protect a nest against marauders.
I bet you think I’m making all this up. Give it some time. Getting old doesn’t happen overnight. Sooner or later, you’ll see.