Friday, July 13, 2007

Dignity in Aging

I have a friend who is just like a character in a Milan Kundera novel: a married man in his middle years and always looking for attention from women; younger women. He has good qualities such as being a good father and being very generous. Yet this other aspect of his personality really bothers me and is uncomfortable even to discuss.

He chooses restaurants based on the attractiveness of the female servers. To him, it’s not a “great” meal unless the servers are pretty and friendly. He gets frustrated with me because I refuse to go to clubs with him. I never go to clubs and I don't drink either because I don't really like the taste of alcohol. Besides, after years of playing in clubs, for me it would be just like hanging out at work. I’m not a musician anymore and I can think of a hundred better places I would rather be: museums, movie theaters, Thai boxing, Japan, cooking classes, the zoo, playing X-box, etc.

Nevertheless, he makes inappropriate comments about girls and, whether the girls can hear him or not, it makes me uncomfortable. For some reason it really bothers me that he can’t consider the intellectual aspects of women or their emotional boundaries. Don't misunderstand me, I have monkey neurons too. I am not a stranger to sex and seduction. But I also have the ability to interact with other human beings and their intellectual identities independently of their sexual or ethnic properties. He’s always looking at girls and making crude comments but I know he is not actually scoring with any girls. Does he really want to impress them or just get a favorable response from them? I can’t tell but I do chastise him from time to time. In other places, with female friends, he’ll jokingly invite them to sit on his lap. I know that I could never ask a female acquaintance to sit on my lap. It seems absolutely absurd and inappropriate but perhaps some women like this. Who am I to say really? However, I remember one time he invited a young woman, someone we knew, to sit on his lap but she declined. And then, she made a comment about him to me, very sarcastically and very quietly, so that he could not hear: “Yeah, after $20 and five drinks.”

It seems to me that many middle-aged men still see themselves as they were when they were in their twenties. But those youthful aesthetics don’t last forever. Is my friend just oblivious to this fact? Twelve years in the music industry showed me that we are always being judged by our appearance – rightly or wrongly – whether we like it or not. Everywhere I go, every minute of the day, I’m aware of this. I know that I’m being judged. So what would it be for me - $100 and eight drinks? I'd rather not think about it.

I’m a fairly happy person by nature but his crude comments and views about women always bring me down. His views are inherently disrespectful of other human beings. Most importantly though, his desperate behavior constantly reminds me of youth lost and beauty faded – and of my own candle that has to go out eventually. So even if he doesn’t care about his behavior or all the subtle rejections, could he at least shut his mouth and leave me with my dignity? It’s all I’ve got left.

- Just a peasant

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