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Bastian Dash

Three Mustered Fears

For all the I say about us chaps being given a break as we head into those years post the supposed toyboy age bracket most of you gals stipulate we should occupy, there are indeed some that do no favours to the cause.

I recently met three at a party …

Let me first however allude once more to my own whispered warnings as I lazed some years ago beneath a Canaries sun; where I envisioned what my future might be like and the perceptions held about men as they age without settling the way convention says they should. Naturally I was troubled; but then you know me, I think way, way too much, even on holiday. However, having since progressed a few more years, I continue to fight the good fight in keeping hold of that youthful outlook I feel I still have. Recent ‘jaded’ accusations aside, I maintain that if older women can indeed now be ‘younger’, so can us older ‘younger’ men.
However, back to recent said party held in West London by my friend Joe and his treasured Beatrice at a swanky high street bar; a gathering of the familiar and unfamiliar, and not so much a particular occasion as instead just a Facebook inspired ‘Hey guys, anyone fancy a get together?’ type thing.

Of these three ‘mustered fears’ as I’ve now termed them, the first was known to me very well. Tony Hutchins, mine and Joe’s coarsely tongued, mockney compadre, the man who indirectly introduced me to a poledancer one raucous night many moons ago which would inadvertently change my life. To be honest, with Tony nothing’s changed since his divorce, so what I witnessed was hardly anything new. I mean there he was, chasing tail the whole evening with his bagful of bad opening lines and sleazy double entendres we’ve all come to know and love over the years; and hell I’ve always admired his front if nothing else (plus that aside he is, at heart, a good bloke). It struck me though that here’s what gives older men like him such a bad name, where what can work for the sparkling, cheeky younger chappie with the ladies now flounders miserably on the great barrier reef of tawdry cliche; I mean only Sid James in the Carry On movies or Quagmire in Family Guy ever got away with that sort of thing. And even if Tony still maintains it’s just a numbers game and has no qualms about playing these odds probably til he drops, for me I’m watching those numbers slowly running out for him. Not that I could ever see myself travelling down his path, but nonetheless he isn’t an advert for the second opinion I argue for.

Of the remaining two personified forebodings I came across, the next I encountered is perhaps a less obvious no go avenue. Early in the evening I bumped into friend of a friend who on the face of it appeared to be something of a chisel chinned, rugby Adonis and who certainly didn’t look his forty years given both the accent and charming demeanor which you’d guess could be quite a hit with the opposite sex. We got talking about the usual, but when a passing ‘headturner’ took his fancy, this conveniently encouraged a bit of ‘boy talk’ and led to a “So… are you seeing anyone yourself?” line of inquiry. Turns out here was someone who’d just finished his latest not so long term relationship and was casting the nets out for the next catch.  Well nothing wrong with that. Until he then started talking about what exactly it was he wanted having now reached a certain age where his gallivanting days were ending (I mean here was in effect another BD without the surreptitious pretense I use).

Intrigued I listened to his checklist, i.e. if he was going to be with someone she had to be this, and this, and this, and this, and that, and this, and hopefully this, and that, and this, oh and this… and definitely this too. Blimey! Talk about picky; this blueprint for his ideal woman had more clauses in it than a UN resolution. Which made me think; I mean, sure we all have criteria regarding our perfect partner, but after you’ve left it so long, does it really get to the point that you can only have someone in your life if she really does tick every single box? Are we aging guys really as set in our ways as the stereotyping about us always suggests. Yeah I know I’ve struggled of late with what I want (and true,  I’ve also told you about my loo test), but is this what’s ahead for me once I finally give up those mere dalliances which I find I’m better at obtaining,  i.e. my own 100 page questionnaire? I used to accuse some women of always brandishing their soul mate job descriptions when out on a date but here was a chap who was effectively doing the same. And he seemed pretty adamant about sticking to it too, meaning as Adonis-like as he was, I daresay he was getting more consistent admiration from the mirror than anywhere else.

Rather like what befell Mr. Scrooge however, the most troubling ‘spirit’ I was to chance upon came at the end, well, much later at least anyway.  I’m not sure who he was, just someone Beatrice knew and who possibly out of pity had asked along. Also residing somewhere in his very early forties, he was pleasant enough though, and we got chatting while I was taking respite from some boozy schmoozing on a free seat.  At first I thought he was just shy (and I think he was a little) but as we too got onto the subject of relationships (you see us chaps do talk about these things among ourselves as well you know), I encountered a streak of cynicism that I hadn’t quite expected. Obviously he hadn’t had much luck on that front so it was obvious this smidgen of bitterness had set in due to that. What troubled me the most though was that as a result he had pretty much completely written off settling down at all because, he reasoned, he’d almost got to an age etc. where hardly anyone would be interested (in his opinion) except out of mutual necessity. It was as if he was saying if you don’t get things sorted out by a certain point, whatever comes next is only going to be a hollow compromise which won’t make you truly happy.

Oh to be twenty-six rather than thirty-six and not having to worry about such things. Mind you at twenty-six I had written myself off romantically; indeed I was nearly thirty before I saw the light (and what light it was!). Okay this guy was at least being true to himself, but he looked all screwed up, literally given the way he was sitting too with his shoulders hunched in. In retrospect he wasn’t so much bitter as simply resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, and that was that. And of course with such a mood you exude an aura that encourages the ‘wide berth’ approach from otherwise potential suitors; far worse than the toxic bachelor, more the tossed away one.

Well as you can imagine after such a succession of revelations I seriously needed a diversion. But I was on my best behaviour because this was Joe and Beatrice’s night so I wasn’t about to misbehave here; besides I compartmentalize such activity as you know. Luckily I got a text message from a certain recent party so at some point I slipped away and found my own escape from the night’s disillusionment with a very, very bad person who has incredible taste in underwear  and less of a problem about her age than those three ‘perhaps too wise for their own good’  men did.

And as far as getting what we both wanted from this little episode, well we ticked more than just each other’s boxes I can tell you…

By Bastian Dash, TBW’s Toyman around town…

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