On Friday I met up with an old friend and her new bloke. Well, he’s new to me.
He’s been around for six months now, but since we live in different countries I hadn’t yet had the pleasure.
My friend has recently endured a rather ugly divorce, which is what happens when your husband’s favourite website is illicitencounters.com, and he’s not just window-shopping.
I’m thrilled she’s moved on.
“He’s very bald,” she warned me in advance of this meeting, making me laugh.
After all, we’re in our forties now, when everything starts to migrate: chins, jowls, arches, bellies, sphincters, hair … The men we date are more likely to have hair on their backs than on their heads; we’re doing well if it hasn’t colonised their bums.
Anyway, there she was with the new bloke, who was neat, bald – but so what? – and wearing, importantly, a big, sweet, slightly terrified smile.
He ordered decent wine – not the cheapest, but nothing ostentatious either – and we had a lovely meal, followed by a good-natured argument about who was footing the bill, and while we were at it my friend nipped to the loo and paid it herself, which was pretty funny.
We laughed a lot that night.
However, when he went to the bathroom I took the gap to whisper to her that he seemed lovely.
“Yes,” said she, “he is lovely.” And she added that he’s immensely kind, and a considerate lover too, and yet, and yet … “He doesn’t light my fire,” she said.
The girl wants fireworks, flames; she wants a raging inferno of passion. The “girl” is 47 … She’s not alone among my friends in this either: we’re middle-aged, menopausal, yet still chasing the fantasy.
Perhaps we’re living in bubbles of illusion and delusion. We see folk we haven’t seen for years and tell ourselves there’s no way we look as old as that, right?
My God, we think as we trawl Facebook, our peers look like parents, like grandparents even – which they increasingly are. We’re grownups now, and there’s a lot to be said for a warm glow, for steady embers. And for kindness. Because when you’re sagging and wrinkling and knocked about a bit by life, I reckon kind is the new hot.
Or maybe I’m just having another hot flush …