By Bunmi Sofola
Ubong, just turned 63 and a grandmother recalled a recent date she had with a man ‘her age’. A merry widow in the real sense of the word, she’s a fairly successful real estate agent and spent a fortune looking after herself – and the results are spectacular. Against her better judgement, she’d decided to go to the movies with him when he kept raving about a Nollywood film he was involved with. “Shuffling self-consciously in his seat beside me at the cinema, I sensed that this my date, was about to make his first move: said Ubong,”
“He went for the old’:fashioned romantic option and gently took my hand in his and gave me a squeeze. But rather than making my heart melt, the gesture made me cringe.
“Staring ahead at the scream, all I could think was: ‘How soon can I extract my hand from his without appearing rude? I waited a few seconds, subtly slipped my hand out of his grasp and edged myself away from him. At 66, Ovie was a few years older than me. We’d been introduced by a mutual friend who thought we would be a good match. Ovie was a wealthy, highly successful, intelligent, divorced chap who’s invested in several profitable ventures. He owned homes here and abroad and is supposed to tick every box going on a date with me. In the flesh, however, it was another story. He was
scruffy with a scratchy-looking grey beard that made him look horribly unkempt. He also suffered from a bad back, which gave him an old man’s gait. The thought of being intimate with him repulsed me. If he looked so unappealing in his clothes, what on earth would he look like naked?
“I tried to push aside mental images of grey chest hair, a sweaty bald patch and a flabby stomach. There was no way I could ever sleep with this man.
Not tonight. Not ever! In fact, if they were like this, I doubted whether I
could ever sleep with any man my own age. Experience had shown I was better off with toyboys, so why have a swing to the other end of the age scale?
A few months ago, before my 63rd birthday, my friends made it known they
were fed up with my escapades with toyboys. I was urged to try a man my age. One of the more unpleasant accusations was that my adventures with younger men had turned me into ‘shop soiled goods’, and that this would deter any ‘nice’ man. According to this friend, my actions meant I faced a sad and lonely old age. Try man my age.
“While I could easily disregard the vitriolic views of my friends, some of whom I suspected were merely jealous or prudish, I did feel it would be sensible to put my experience in perspective by dating some older men. Surely they
had charms and allure of their own? And so it was I decided to date this
ageing industrialist. We had dinner at his palatial residence, and yes, it was
easy to converse with a man who ‘had’ the same things as me. Yet, as the
conversation steered predictably down the safe avenues of favourite holiday spots and people he’d worked with, my mind wandered back to those playful exchanges I’d enjoyed with one of my favourite younger chaps, during our wonderful sexy afternoons.
“Aged 32, I teased him endlessly about political figures he had no clue about.
But he was confident about his toned body and what to do with it. Was I being too fussy? Had my flings with younger men led me to set the bar unrealistically high? Let’s face it, a paunchy man fast approaching his 70th birthday will not compare favourably with a 32-year-old stud. But let’s turn the table. If I was frumpy, over weight, with unkempt grey hair and dressed in sensible shoes and polyester slacks, would Evie have asked me out in the first place? No! So why on earth should I settle for an out-of-condition old
codger like him just because society deems it appropriate for me? Especially
not when I still feel vibrant and youthful enough to attract the hot young thirty-somethings of this world?
“Since Evie, I’ve crossed paths with other older men and I’ve discovered how world-weary and bitter they can be, desperate to off-load their emotional baggage on any female who would listen. One top civil servant in his 50s stifled me with his tales of woe. “I divorced my wife after only four years of marriage and haven’t found a replacement since then. And that was 18 years ago,” he whined. Yawn. “My longest relationship was barely two years.
Why is that? Why am I so hopeless when it comes to women? What is it about me? Am I not attractive?” No, you’re not, I wanted to bark. Because you whinge and whine the whole time.
“Another date launched into a tirade against his former wife, claiming she was a terrible woman who’d had affairs and abandoned their children. Then he started on his subsequent partner – she was a selfish gold-digging alcoholic apparently. I’ve got my own gripes about exes, but I wouldn’t dream of bad- mouthing them to a virtual stranger.
“Let’s face it, to days middle-aged men are clueless about most things. They’re not great on grooming, mistakenly taking their lead from the young. I mean, designer stubble can look sexy on a cute 30-year-old, but it makes a 62-year- old look like a dishevelled pensioner. On the other hand, mature women these days are all too aware of the importance of taking care of the face, hair and body, and of dressing well in order to hold the interest of the opposite sex. Why don’t older men think the same rules also apply to them?
“And it isn’t just about appearance. Older men don’t seem to know how to conduct themselves around women. They hail from the era when ‘men were men.’ They were the provider, the defender. They made the moves, they called the shots. But that doesn’t wash in a modem society filled with strong, independent women. The balance of power has shifted and this seems to confuse a lot of 55-plus men, even the successful ones. They don’t know whether they should pay for dinner, or whether it’s OK to compliment you on your legs.
“Men in their 30s neither know nor care about ‘rules’. Used to the notion of equality between the sexes, they are more spontaneous and natural. If they think you look sexy, they tell you. If they disagree with you, they tell you.
And a lot of them are financially independent not the gold-diggers they’re often painted to be. A few months back, I entered an enjoyable part-time relationship with a man who lives outside the state. Every few weeks, he comes to Lagos to see me his ‘naughty secret.’ At 37, he’s no youngster, but he’s still almost two decades younger than me. I see him as a sort of compromise. He is neither young enough to be my grandson nor old enough to look like my father. It will end at some point, probably when his wife finds out, but for now this arrangement will do me very nicely, thank you!”