Coming and age .. Elsie .. Konrad Lorenz

26 Aug

Interesting Graun piece yesterday. Woman in her fifties tells of dynamite sex with young men, having divorced the once-a-fortnight duty shag hubbie. She began with a thirty-four year old – ‘he took me places I didn’t think possible; I passed out during a particularly intense orgasm’ – but soon progressed to fellers in their twenties.

Her joy made me smile. In my twenties I had a couple of flings with women her age, and a jolly good time we had of it. I only wish I’d been bolder. What marred these trysts was my shame at desiring older women, a feeling heightened by my mother having died when I was ten. I mean, it had to be oedipal, right? Well, maybe. I’ll come – tee hee – to another possibility in a mo, but one of many good things about being sixty-something not twenty-something is that such things matter less. Age can bring a healthy readjustment of what is, and what is not, important. I fret less over whether my sexual tastes are natural, whatever the fuck that is, more over the kind of world my children, and possibly theirs, can look forward to.

If you ask me, enjoying sex across the generations no more needs explanation than interracial or gay sex, preferring blondes to brunettes, or shaved to au naturel.  (And if you tell me young is beautiful, I agree: even the unbeautiful young are beautiful, though they seldom know it. But if you tell me beautiful equals sexy, well, you know nothing about desire.) That said, I was born to enquire and intellectualise. If Oedipus doesn’t float your boat, here’s theory two.

A while ago I was editing a gay friend’s memoirs. In an early chapter, its narrator but a lad, he tells of seeing for the first time a naked man, an uncle, as they changed at the beach. That rang a bell. My first erotic sighting of a woman – as in all of her – was at thirteen, she in her fifties. No, I’m not going into details. Suffice to say there was zero prospect of my quivering lust being sated – losing my virginity lay eighteen months ahead, with a lass two years younger. We were both under sixteen but our indulgence in ‘unlawful intercourse’ gave way on Michaelmas Day 1968 to mine in statutory rape. (We celebrated with a fuck followed by clumsy, first oral.) Fine times we had too, though she’d have been better served by my knowing what a clitoris does, and where you might find one.

But my desire for older women stayed with me. Ah, the things we got up to in my secret life: me and Pat Elsie Tanner Phoenix!  I’d be mid twenties before fantasy turned to reality but, here too, I ain’t spillin no beans. This is my point. If Theory One is oedipal, Theory Two’s a variant on what Konrad Lorenz called imprinting – see the clip, below. The developmental notion of a ‘critical period’ recurs in zoology, psychology and linguistics. John Bowlby’s work on attachment drew on that of Lorenz, while there’s strong evidence, including but not confined to studies of ‘wolf children’, that where language is not acquired before puberty it will never be fully mastered. Could it be that my literary friend fancies men, I older women, because of our own initial erotic exposures within a similarly critical period?

(I use the word exposures  advisedly. To locate my first erotic fantasies  I must go further back, and they too involved older women. Well they would, wouldn’t they? Me being five at the time.)

To be sure, me and one gay pal make for a sample of questionable statistical significance. (That applies even when I throw in the facts that I do prefer au naturel  and 1966 lady did sport a lush bush. Coincidence? Well, yeah, probably.) Given her extensive and varied amorous experiences, the anonymous author of that Graun piece might have – we are  going to be mature here, right? – fleshed out my sample. Alas, she doesn’t go into what might motivate her young gents of the night. Not that she’s obliged to – why look gift horses in the mouth? – but I’d be interested to know if theory two can fly. Who knows? Might lead to a paper or two, a Nobel for Science even.

Meanwhile, the piece’s very first BTL comment drew a massive 540 likes. Come again?



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