My mother always told me (the first time I recall, I was eight years old!) that there are only three topics of interest in any kind of real conversation; “Sex, religion and politics!” Coming from my mom, I took that statement as a universal truth despite not really knowing anything about any of the three subjects. It was total gospel to me. I took it to heart.
I also grew up (my teenage formative years) with “Tell it like it is!” , “Be real!” and “Lay it on me, man!” as popular dictates of my culture. Despite my own tendency to embellish, exaggerate and occasionally mislead and manipulate, I came to admire the blunt, straight-forward approach in others. I even invested in it somewhat myself. I kept a side account of tact, diplomacy and well-crafted sentence structure but the truth ingredient was always the most important part said out loud…. (if anything had to be said at all).
I am sure you can imagine how many times that approach DID NOT SERVE ME WELL!
I am gonna tell you about one of them.
Sal and I were in our 50’s – already together over thirty years – and we were visiting Sal’s parents. Roz and Pete were well into their 70’s and had been together 50 plus years. They had, as they say, standing in the marriage longevity department. And there were things I wanted to know about getting old. And getting old together.
One night over gins and tonics (maybe the third round), I asked, “So, guys…..I am honestly NOT asking anything personal here. Seriously. Honest. I am just looking forward and want to know how my life will likely turn out……..”
Peter said instantly, “Your life will be fine. Don’t start….” (He had a sense of me….)
“Ha, ha. Seriously. Here’s the question…..do septuagenarians still have sex? I am not prying into your personal life, honest, I just wanna know about your cohort.”
“You know…the demographic group you belong to? You must know about how life is amongst your silver-haired peers, right? Seniors talk. You know…right?”
“We’re British. We do not talk about that sort of thing. Nor will we. Ever. Why do you want to know, anyway?”
“To see if there is a reason to live?”
Sal gasped. Her father looked stern. Her mother’s eyes bugged out. “Hey! I’m only kidding (I wasn’t). It is just a question. You guys are our role models in a few, very limited and rapidly diminishing ways. But I do not need personal stats here, Pete. I just wanna know if old people still couple.”
“Go ask some old people!”
Later that night when we were in bed, Sal asked, “How could you ask my parents that?”
“Well, I wanted to know. They are old. They must know. Sex is a normal, healthy aspect of life….so long as you are still living of course. I made it clear I was not prying into their personal lives but, rather, asking about their peers, their overall life experience. Can’t we even talk about sex, say, to parents? What about religion? Or even politics?”
“Oh, my God, no! We’re British. Mom and dad do not even know how each other votes! They do not believe in God. I think. I am not sure, actually. I don’t know. We can’t talk about that sort of thing. We talk about the weather, fer Gawd’s sake. Gardens. Maybe dogs. You know that!”
“Well, I did kinda notice that over the years and I have even cracked a few jokes about it but no one acknowledged the jokes. I kinda thought that they were still a bit leery of me.”
“Well, of course they are. That’s true. Who wouldn’t be? But I must admit, it has been thirty years. Mind you, I am still a bit leery of you myself. Look at tonight!”
“OK, fine. I’ll just talk dogs and weather while pouring G’s and T’s. But, between you and me, what’s your opinion on sex into your seventies?”
“Not a chance. You can kiss off your sixties, too, Bub. In fact, the jury is still out on the rest of your fifties!”
Merry Xmas, guys and gals. 2023 will be better. If we make it……