There’s nothing like a younger man to get your blood pumping again
There’s a tradition in my mother’s family, the Burrells, a large clan of boisterous West Coasters of Irish descent, of marrying younger men. Quite frankly, they need to be younger, have a bit of bounce to them, a bit of pep, because ones the same age wouldn’t last long. The women of my family are incredibly full on. We make great husbands, as in we craft them. Burrell women, of which I am one, are stubborn, demanding, hilarious and invariably the best thing that ever happened to the men they meet, who they then love to a frazzle. You can always tell a Burrell husband: he looks like he needs a transfusion of haemoglobin, stat. Worn down to the knuckles, but happy.
I’m dating a younger man myself. Sadly, by the time you read this, he’ll probably be dead. It won’t necessarily be my fault: his hobbies include downhill racing, back country snowboarding, alpine climbing and wakeboarding. He’s not long for this world, bless him, but I defy any woman to maintain a prophylactic disinterest in a man who comes down from a mountain and politely removes his crampons before scaling your own peaks.
In the meantime, there are some adjustments/allowances to be made on my part: the mountain man has a penchant for peaked caps and BMX bikes (no, he’s not
that young) and listens to psy-trance, which is a kind of headachy dirge enjoyed by bearded transcendental sex therapists in bead necklaces. Also, he’s a vegetarian (the biggest, most hairy-chested vegetarian in the world) and I know, no matter how hard I tried, I could never go meatless for long: bacon is my kryptonite. On the upside, he’s incredibly good-looking and I always have been a very shallow woman.
The ‘taking a younger man as a lover post-divorce’ cliché is a thing (and has been long before French author Colette wrote Chéri) because after a big, serious, emotionally expensive love, a woman needs a fun love, someone who makes you laugh, dares you to do things you normally wouldn’t. Get towed behind a jet boat on water-skis, for example. It isn’t serious – younger men live lives of churn and chaos, they own posters, not paintings, and dressing up is finding a clean T-shirt – but it’s not meant to be serious, just good for you, like time in sunshine. In return, the younger man gets the company of a woman who knows herself, a woman who stands in her own light, and that is incredibly attractive.
Reasons to jump in the kiddie pool include the fact a younger man still has a thirst for life, isn’t jaded. Sure, he doesn’t earn enough to take you out for dinner in a flash restaurant (you’d better want fun over food, or cheese and crackers on the beach at sunset), but he also doesn’t have teenage children or an ex-wife he calls ‘B*#@h Face’. In other words, he still likes women immensely, not being far from the days when just touching a live, naked one would have been the highlight of his year.
Even though our culture drives women to choose the wiser, older, powerful male, dating someone younger will make all the other men you know really, really nervous; suggesting, as it does, that they’re over-thehill and that women, god forbid, fantasise about firm flesh just as much as they do.
Younger men are much less chauvinistic: even seven years can make all the difference to the notions of gender roles and division of labour instilled by his mother, meaning someone younger doesn’t think twice about pitching in with the laundry or taking over the cooking so you can work, and, unlike older men, the word ‘menstruation’ doesn’t have them shrieking; they’ll happily pop out to the shops to buy you organic tampons.
And then there’s the sex. All I’m going to say is you’ll never see Viagra in their bathroom cupboard. There will be nothing useful in there at all, just an empty bottle of Paco Rabanne and a dreadlock they’re keeping for DNA purposes, in case they get lost up a mountain.
As far as I can tell, youth is not always wasted on the young. Does the age difference bother my younger man? “It just means we’ll die at the same time,” he says. That’s what thinks.
Then there’s the sex. You’ll never see Viagra in a younger man’s cupboard