The age difference

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - February 5, 2016 - 9:00am

I had just been to Mercury Drug to buy all sorts of drugs. I had just come from a doctor who prescribed maintenance medicines for my very high blood pressure and incidentally my latest disease — pharyngitis — that had given me a very painful throat and almost erased my voice. I decided to sit down and order a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun to quell my hunger.

A short, youngish lady approached me and asked, “Excuse me, ma’am, are you Barbara Gonzalez?” She kind of surprised me into admitting yes, I was. “Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked.

“Well, may I join you?” So, I gestured yes and she sat down. First we got to talking about general things and then she said, “There is something I want to talk to you about. In fact, I think you’re the only person I can talk to about this. You know I’m a widow, in my 60s. I have been a widow for many years now. I still work at an office and I work with a young man who is in his middle 30s. Before we just used to be friends but lately I’ve noticed a change in the way we deal with each other. It’s like there’s something more. I think I may be falling in love with him.”

Huh? I told myself. What kind of a personality am I projecting that I attract this manner of confidence from a total stranger? Then I told myself, maybe I write like I don’t judge people, because I don’t judge them. I think everyone has a personal life and it can be as far out as one is inclined to take it.

“So what’s the problem?” I asked her.

“Isn’t it embarrassing that I am a woman in my 60s and I am falling in love with a young man in his 30s? And he’s married, you know. I mean, isn’t it improper that I am so many years older than he is?”

Oh, I said, I have been thinking about that. You know when a man is in his 60s and he falls in love with a girl in her 20s the arrangement seems to work. I think because for a man in his 60s, bedroom prowess is on the wane and he knows it. He can no longer do it the way he did when he was 23. A girl in her 20s, in my day anyway, still has enough innocence in her not to know as much as women in their 60s and 70s, who know so much so that the match works out well, objectively speaking. No morals included in the analysis.

When a woman is in her 60s, she has a lot more experience and a stronger sense of adventure. She naturally gets attracted to younger men because they have the curiosity and the energy and she doesn’t mind having to teach him. So you can be happy with him, if you dare. And the two of you can have fun, if you dare.

 Then I looked at her and said sincerely, I envy you. I am 70 and don’t know any young men who might be interested in me. You should be happy for yourself. At least you have a prospect. I don’t.

 She giggled and then she started to agonize over her problem. Was it right for her to do anything about it? What would she be doing to his wife? What would other people say? What if their friends in the office noticed that something about her had changed? Then back to — isn’t it embarrassing to be with a man 30 years younger than me?

 I asked her, “Why are you asking me those questions? I cannot answer you. Those are questions you must answer yourself. Can you take the big leap forward with a much younger man, knowing that underneath all the pleasure there is certainly going to be some pain. I’m sure he will not leave his wife because of you. You will just have occasional trysts here and there. This doesn’t have the prospect of a long-term relationship. But it can bring you joy while it lasts. You have to decide if you have the courage to do it. Not me, I cannot decide that for you. You will have to decide that for yourself.”

“But I’m a woman, isn’t it embarrassing to have an affair with someone 30 years my junior?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know how that feels but I’m telling you I envy your having such an opportunity. That’s not available to everyone. If I had to deal with a problem like that I would know the answer. But I don’t.”

In the end, I said, “It’s your life and you must live it according to your own desires and your own rules.” Then I smiled mysteriously and said, “Enjoy it.”


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