A guy dropped in. With his round face and long overcoat, he gave the impression of two children, one standing on the other’s shoulders, who have teamed up so as to gain admission to an age-restricted movie. In his conversation, he always seemed to be skating over an abyss; he once told me “As our bodies get older, did you know they are actually cooking?”
He started to talk about his romantic plans. Divorced with two kids, he hadn’t been in a relationship for a year or more and was missing it. He encouraged me, too. “You’ve had a long relationship. Now you could explore some short-run ones.” Cross them off the bucket list, so to speak.
There are a lot of Peter Pans about, of either sex. Some are sad: older single women still playing an exhausting game which they have to pretend to enjoy; the junkies running round the streets of my town, trapped in a permanent truancy, every institution becoming another version of reform school. Some are ridiculous, like the bestubbled local dads in baggy shorts who aspire to be their child’s best mate. Some, like my acquaintance, are both.
And in some sense, of course it’s good to be young and good that society is more youthful. Young means curious and openminded, and funnier, and always learning. I should know! An academic is someone who decided to stay in school for ever. Who wouldn’t want to remain young?