Sunday, January 14, 2007
The little blue pill
In most of the books I've read over the past few weeks there is a recurring theme: older men falling for much younger women. Viagra has been just one of the reasons for this belief that an older man would be attractive to younger women, but it is Stephen King's reasoning in Bag of Bones that I find most interesting, especially contrasted with a recent article about men's preferences, and not just for younger women.
King, in the character of Mike Noonan, best selling author hiding a career ending case of writer's block, writes that younger women want older men because they are more stable and secure: financially and emotionally. Men of middle age have found themselves and are established in a profession. They have lived. Conversely, men are drawn to younger women not only because of the biological urge for procreation but also to women who are unstable because men see adventure and excitement, the very things they feel they have lost by becoming financially and emotionally stable and secure in their professions.
It reminds me of something I heard once. Men marry women expecting them not to change and women marry men expecting to be able to change them. It is the dichotomy of the species that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus attempted to explain.
It never occurs to men that the damsel in distress they find so appealing is probably going to spend the rest of her life running from one chaotic situation to another, upsetting his stable world and draining his finances if she sticks around for any length of time or that he is willingly taking on Sisyphus's task of eternally rolling the ball uphill only to have it crash to the bottom so that he must start all over. He doesn't see the jagged murderous rocks as he is lured to destruction by the siren's call.
Then I am reminded of Samantha Jones from Sex and the City who was successfully (for a time) lured to the stark reality of an 80-year-old billionaire's bed by the glittering promises of diamonds and Viagra only to run screaming from the sight of his wrinkled and sunken behind as he stopped in the midst of foreplay to relieve himself. Samantha got out of Dodge very quickly and the security and stability she saw in the aging Romeo with a pocket full of little blue pills.
Even Philip Roth in The Human Stain contrasts a writer who survived prostate cancer intact without his libido, something he felt he had easily and painlessly left behind, with a 71-year-old retired dean of a college having an illicit affair with an illiterate and battered woman whose Vietnam veteran husband stalks them and blames her for the deaths of their two children. The writer is drawn into Silk's life as a moth drawn to a flame just as surely as the stable and secure retired dean is drawn to Faunia, the beast of his youthful libido awakened by a pocket full of little blue pills.
I wonder if it is the chemical miracle of those little blue pills that has writers dwelling on the these May-December romances or the fact that the writers themselves are looking into the beast's sleeping face and daring to waken him while they stand looking after the damsels in distress with their tongues hanging out even when their mouths are closed. Or is this the libidinous version of King Midas's lust for gold that was nearly his undoing? Only time will tell as more and more authors look into their winter years and rage against the dying of that lustful light, reaching into their pockets and their dreams for one of those little blue pills.