J and I had a rather enlightening conversation yesterday. She's a widow and I've been post-divorce single far longer than I was married. Since we're of a certain age, we spend a lot of time discussing the strange and odd things our bodies are doing as they deteriorate without our mind's consent. Our conversation this time wound round to the fact that neither of us would be able to enter into an intimate fling at this stage in the game, not because our once taut skin is now wrinkled like an elephant's knees or our once healthy hair shows signs of being chewed by mice in the night or because we might cause permanent physical damage with the swinging bat wings on our upper arms. No, the demise of our night life hinges on the fact that our night life has taken on rituals sure to stymie even the most determined man.
It used to be that we splashed some water on our faces, slipped into something more comfortable, and jumped into bed. Those days are gone forever. As gradually as the wrinkles appeared on our cheeks, so the little bedtime routines grew from slapdash to must do. Now, just getting up out of the chair and into the bathroom takes planning and ablutions include special non-drying, colloidal soaps and emollient rich lotions. There's the anti-aging night cream, the delicate skin eye treatment cream, the spot eradicating hand cream. There's flossing and brushing and rinsing, eye drops, ear drops, anti-ache foot potions that smell like an herb garden run amok and capsaicin cream for aching joints.
Then there's the whole climb-into-bed routine that includes finding just the right sleepwear - old people nightclothes that won't bind or pinch or cling or wedge. Looking sexy has taken a waaaay back seat to being able to turn over under the covers without exposing too much flesh or being tangled, strapped, caught or strangled. The very act of turning over requires strategy because now one's knee pillow must follow along, the head pillow arrangement for the left shoulder does not match the pillow arrangement for the right shoulder, and the whole bed becomes a war zone of arms and elbows and knees as we struggle to alleviate aching hips. There'd be no room for even the most intrepid fellow even if he was willing to put up with the smelly lotions, the shifting pillows, and the fanatic need for absolute dark.
This must be why one's libido diminishes with age. Imagine having the energy for a spot of hot and bother after all that preparation. Imagine the light of day (or a bedside lamp) shining on what now looks best in pitch black (and the safety of one's imagination). I know, I know, I'm leaving out love and the comfortableness of a long-term relationship and J admits that if her husband was still alive, he'd be fine with all that. But someone new? A stranger, no matter how wrinkled and smelly himself? He'd have to be blind, deaf, and willing to sleep in his own house at night.